JESUS GURIDI (1886 - 1961)
Guridi was born into a musical family and from an early age was a well-known and talented figure in Bilbao’s musical circles, astounding his audiences with his piano performances and the charm and dexterity of his own compositions. On the advice of Francis Plant, he moved to Paris at the age of fourteen to enter the Schola Cantorum. There he studied piano with Grovlez, harmony with De la Tombelle and composition with D’Indy, graduating with a brilliant first prize before his twentieth birthday.
Having returned to Bilbao, he was appointed organist at a number of churches and devoted himself to teaching the organ and conducting various musical ensembles in the city. He was renowned for his improvisational skills on the organ and also wrote a number of highly distinguished works for the instrument. In 1911 he became conductor of the Sociedad Coral de Bilbao, for whom he wrote several works, most notably the collections of Basque folk songs and one of his masterpieces, As cantan los chicos (1915) for orchestra and chorus. The next year or two saw the first performances in Madrid of the opera Mirentxu (1915) and the symphonic poem Una aventura de Don Quijote (Naxos 8.557110) in 1916. He worked on his epic Basque opera Amaya (Marco Polo 8.225084–85) between 1910 and 1920, and another stage work, the zarzuela El Casero (1926) proved to be one of his greatest triumphs. This was followed by other works in the same genre, including La meiga and La cautiva.
Guridi achieved particular international renown with the Diez melodas vascas (Naxos 8.557110) in 1941, a fine example of a nationalist orchestral work; the Sinfona pirenica (Naxos 8.557631) in 1946; the Homenaje a Walt Disney (1956) for piano and orchestra; the String Quartet in A (1950) and the Seis canciones castellanas (1943), among others. As well as composing many highly acclaimed pieces for organ, including the Trptico del Buen Pastor, he also wrote both film scores and incidental music for the theatre. Organ professor at the Madrid Conservatory for some years, Guridi was appointed its director in 1956, remaining in the post until his death five years later.