Universal Classical Basque Music

Euskara. Kultura. Mundura.


There’s a saying in Basque that goes: “Euskaldun bat: txapela; bi euskaldun: pilota-partida; hiru euskaldun: orfeoia”, which loosely translates to “One Basque, one beret; two Basques, a game of pelota; three, a choir”. Popular sayings of this type reflect the power and passion of Basque music. Karlos Sánchez Ekiza, professor of music at the University of the Basque Country, has written a comprehensive overview of classical Basque music as part of the ´Basque Culture Collection´. Promoted by the Etxepare Basque Institute, the collection was first published eight years ago. The entire series, including Sánchez Ekiza’s contribution, ‘Classical Music’, has now been republished in an updated edition.

Basque choirs have now garnered international acclaim, but in the past, we also had illustrious performers, such as the violinist and composer Pablo Sarasate and the tenor Julián Gayarre. He also points out that one of the greatest composers of all time, Maurice Ravel was Basque, as were Luis de Pablo, Agustín González Azilu and Félix Ibarrondo. “Clearly, music is one field in which one can best apply the label of ‘universal Basque’, and the case of Ravel is enough to demonstrate that," says Sánchez.

In his book, Sánchez discusses performers, composers and creators, and examines musical culture from the Enlightenment to the present day, shedding light on the most brilliant musical highlights in the Basque Country: the national opera project in Euskara, the importance of religious music in the Basque Country, the Pamplona-based group Iruñeko Taldea, and the international fame of some of today´s composers, to name a few. The author goes on to analyse vocal and instrumental music, choirs and choral societies, soloists, orchestras and conductors.

Sánchez also discusses Basque music academics and the extensive network of municipal music schools, higher education centres, music conservatories, festivals, concert series and competitions.

About Basque Culture

The re-publication of these twelve books or monographs on Basque cultural expressions originated in 2012. It was then that the ´Basque Culture Collection´ was published in Basque, Spanish and English. The books focused on Basque language, literature, classical music, composition, dance, cuisine, visual arts, traditions and cinema.

The origin of this book dates to 2012, when the Etxepare Euskal Institute published the collection of twelve monographic books on Basque culture for the purpose of offering up-to-date, engaging and authoritative information on Basque creation, presented in an accessible format for anyone wishing to delve deeper into the subject.

The titles and authors of the books were as follows: ‘A Brief History of the Basque Language’ by Ivan Igartua and Xabier Zabaltza; ‘Basque Literature in the Twentieth Century’ by Estibalitz Ezkerra; ‘Basque Classical Music’ by Karlos Sánchez Ekiza; ‘Basque Song: Pop, Rock, Folk’ by Jon Eskisabel; ‘A Collection of Prints’, dedicated to visual arts, written by Miren Jaio; ‘Basque Cinema’ by Joxean Fernandez; ‘Architecture and Design’ by Peio Aguirre; ‘Basque Dance’ by Oier Araolaza; ‘Bertsolarismo’ by Joxerra Garzia; ‘Traditions’ by Joseba Zulaika; and ‘On Basque Cuisine’ by Hasier Etxeberria.

Throughout 2021, most of the books in the collection were republished in three bilingual formats: Basque and Spanish, Basque and English, and Basque and French. All of them are available free of charge in digital format.

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