JESUS ARAMBARRI (1902 - 1960)
Jess Armbarri is a significant figure in the history of twentieth-century Basque music. A romantic, scholarly and sensitive musician of extraordinary insight and finesse, he drew not only on the tradition established by Felipe Pedrell, Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albniz, but also on the work of his fellow Basque composers Jos Mara Usandizaga, Jess Guridi and Father Jos Antonio de Donostia. Although his fame rests primarily on his work as a conductor, he also composed a series of stylish and expressive pieces, earning him a rightful place of honour within the ranks of Basque composers. Armbarri was born in Bilbao in 1902 and began his musical education there before travelling to Paris, where he stayed until 1932, to study composition with Dukas and conducting with Golschmann. He then went on to further conducting studies with Felix Weingartner in Basle.
On his return to Bilbao Armbarri worked almost exclusively as a conductor and only wrote a few more works, most of which were conceived as tributes to those who had most influenced his career: Ofrenda (1946) for Manuel de Falla, In memoriam (1939) for Juan Carlos de Gortzar, and Dedicatoria (1949) for Javier Arisqueta. As well as taking charge of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, he also appeared as guest conductor with all the major Spanish orchestras, introducing audiences to a large number of new works. He was appointed permanent conductor of Madrids Banda Sinfnica in 1953 and died in 1960 while conducting the ensemble at the Parque del Retiro. Armbarris sound academic background, his ability to give form and colour to any kind of musical image, enabled him to create music characterized by its elegance and restrained Romanticism, with celebratory as well as dramatic and sombre resonances in his tribute pieces. He excelled above all in orchestral writing and had a sharp sense of the practicalities of performance, acquired through his long experience of conducting other peoples works and composing his own from the perspective of the performer-composer relationship.