Pablo de Sarasate

(1844 - 1908)

Pablo de Sarasate
Version franšaise


If you should happen to visit the city of Pamplona in northern Spain during the month of July, you would likely find the activities there quite chaotic. You may see the people lining the boulevards or perched on balconies while below young men run wildly through the streets being chased by angry bulls. But this is not chaos — not by Pamplona's standards. This is the annual Fiesta de San Fermín, during which amateur bullfighters run ahead of the charging bulls through the streets of Pamplona all the way to the bullring.

But if you move about the city, perhaps in the vacinity of the music conservatory, you might also discover that on this day another sort of fiesta is celebrated — a fiesta in honor of one of Pamplona's most famous sons, Pable de Sarasate, violinist and composer.

Born Pablo Martín Melitón de Sarasate y Navascuéz in Pamplona, in the Spanish province of Navarre, on 10 March 1844, Pablo began studying violin at the age of five with his father, an artillery bandmaster. Later he took lessons from a local teacher. He gave his first concert at La Caruña when he was only eight years old.

Having been received with enthusiasm by his early audiences, Pablo was provided funding by a wealthy patron so that his parents could take him to Madrid to study with Manuel Rodríguez Saez. It was not long after his arrival that the young violinist became a favorite performer at the court of Queen Isabel II.

When Pablo was twelve, his mother decided to take him to Paris to study with the famous teacher Jean Alard at the Paris Conservatoire. The lad and his mother boarded a train for Paris, but tragedy befell them soon after they had crossed the French border. Pablo's mother was seized by a heart attack and died; and when taken by the Spanish authorities in Bayonne, Pablo was found to be suffering from cholera.

Fortunately, the Spanish consul at Bayonne took Pablo into his own home until he recovered, and he then financed the lad's trip on to Paris. Once in Paris, Pablo auditioned for Monsieur Alard, who immediately saw in the young Spaniard a gift of true musicianship.

Although the youthful violinist could easily have won all the honors of the Conversatoire shortly after he arrived, his prudent teacher held him back. But when Pablo was seventeen, Alard agreed to let him enter the competitions for the coveted Premiere Prix. Sarasate easily won. With the Conservatoire's highest honor, he was virtually guaranteed a career as a performer.

At the beginning of his career, Sarasate performed opera fantasies (most notably the Carmen fantasy) and other pieces that he himself had composed. Most of his compositions ring with a Spanish flavor, and it was largely because of Sarasate that Spanish music gained great favor among the notable European composers of that day. One need only listen to such famous works as Lalo's Symphonie espagnole (dedicated to Sarasate), Bizet's Carmen, and Saint-Saëns' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (also dedicated) to hear the clear influence of Spanish music and these distinguished composers.

George Bernard Shaw once said that though there were many composers of music for the violin, there were but few composers of violin music. But of Sarasate's talents, both as performer and composer, he said that he "left criticism gasping miles behind him." Indeed, Sarasate's four volumes of Spanish dances for violin and piano have been favorites for generations, and his Zigeunerweisen for violin and orchestra is even today a concert standard.

Sarasate was a true Spanish gentleman and was always impeccably dressed. Although he received literally thousands of love letters in his lifetime, he ignored them all and remained a bachelor. He was, however, most courtly in manners toward the fairer sex and conducted himself as a traditional Spanish caballero. It is said that he always kept a supply of Spanish fans to present to his lady admirers after concerts.

Though Sarasate became quite wealthy, he was also quite generous. He did purchase a villa in Biarritz, but every year he would return to his hometown to celebrate the Fiesta. While he would watch from a balcony as the bulls charged through the streets beneath him, the citizens would cheer their native son. And when Sarasate died of chronic bronchitis at his Biarritz home in 1908, he left most of his earthly goods to the city of Pamplona, where there now stands a special Sarasate museum in the conservatory. But his memory and his music he left to the world.

Sarasate autograph

Catalogue of Works

Opus Composition Instrumentation
Fantaisie Caprice Violin & piano
Souvenir de Faust Violin & piano
Mazurka Mi Violin & piano
No. 1 Fantasy on La forza del destino Violin & piano
No. 2 Homenaje a Rossini Violin & piano
No. 3 La dame blanche de Boildieu Violin & orchestra
No. 4 Réverie Violin & piano
No. 5 Fantasy on Romeo and Juliette Violin & piano
No. 6 Caprice on Mireille Violin & piano
No. 7 Confidences Violin & piano
No. 8 Souvenir de Domont Violin & piano
No. 9 Les Adieux Violin & piano
No. 10 Sérénade Andalouse Violin & piano
No. 11 Le sommeil Violin & piano
No. 12 Moscoviènne Violin & piano
No. 13 New Fantasy on Faust Violin & orchestra
No. 14 Fantasy on Der Freischütz Violin & orchestra
No. 15 Mosaíque de Zampa Violin & piano
No. 16 Gavota on Mignon Violin & piano
No. 17 Priére at Berceuse Violin & piano
No. 18 Airs espagnols Violin & piano
No. 19 Fantasy on Martha Violin & piano
No. 20 Zigeunerweisen Violin & orchestra
No. 21 Malagueña y Habanera Violin & piano
No. 22 Romanza andaluza y jota navarra Violin & piano
No. 23 Playera y zapateado Violin & piano
No. 24 Capricho vasco Violin & piano
No. 25 Fantasy on Carmen Violin & orchestra
No. 26 Vito y habanera Violin & piano
No. 27 Jota aragonesa Violin & piano
No. 28 Serenata andaluza Violin & piano
No. 29 El canto del ruiseñor Violin & orchestra
No. 30 Bolero Violin & piano
No. 31 Balada Violin & piano
No. 32 Muñeira Violin & orchestra
No. 33 Navarra Violin & orchestra
No. 34 Airs Écossais Violin & orchestra
No. 35 Peteneras, caprice espagnol Violin & piano
No. 36 Jota de San Fermín Violin & piano
No. 37 Zortzico Adiós montañas mías Violin & piano
No. 38 Viva Sevilla! Violin & orchestra
No. 39 Zortzico de Iparraguirre Violin & piano
No. 40 Introduction et fandango varié Violin & piano
No. 41 Introduction et caprice-jota Violin & orchestra
No. 42 Zortzico Miramar Violin & orchestra
No. 43 Introduction et tarantelle Violin & orchestra
No. 44 La chase Violin & orchestra
No. 45 Nocturno — Serenata Violin & orchestra
No. 46 Gondoliéra Veneziana Violin & piano
No. 47 Melodía rumana Violin & piano
No. 48 K'Esprit Follet Violin & orchestra
No. 49 Canciones rusas Violin & orchestra
No. 50 Jota de Pamplona Violin & orchestra
No. 51 Fantasy on Don Giovanni Violin & piano
No. 52 Jota de Pablo Violin & orchestra
No. 53 La Rève Violin & piano
No. 54 Fantasy on Die Zauberflöte Violin & orchestra

Find sheet music of Sarasate's works at:

Romanza Andaluza, Op. 22, No. 1

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