In Regards To Spanish Concert Music for Brass Ensemble

ISSN: 2254-8521


In Regards To Spanish Concert Music for Brass Ensemble


In February 2017, the Spanish trombonist Celestino Luna-Manso defended his doctoral thesis, 'Concert Music for Brass Ensemble in Spain: a study and analysis of repertory for Spanish Radio and Television Brass Ensemble (1972-1981)', which was guided by professors Gemma Pérez Zalduono (University of Granada) and Germán Gan Quesada (Barcelona Autonomous University), and published by the editorial visages of the University of Granada. With this thesis, he began an investigation into the Spanish concert repertoire for brass ensembles. In this article, Celestino will share a general format of structure of these works and his conclusions, which will include a catalogue of the works he investigated.

Celestino Luna-Manso

(Guillena, Sevilla, Spain, 1975). He teaches trombone at the “Victoria Eugenia” Higher Royal Conservatory of Music in Granada. He studied at the Sevilla Conservatory of Music, Andalucía Youth Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Spain, University of Granada, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in England. He has collaborated with orchestras such as the Spanish National Symphony, Spanish Radio and Television, City of Granada Orchestra, Valencian Community Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic, among others. As an invited professor, he has offered classes and recitals in the conservatories and universities of Salerno (Italy), Graz (Austria), Glasgow (England), Chicago (USA), and Oporto (Portugal).


At the beginning of the seventies, of the last century, there was an increase in concert music in Spain for trumpet, horn, trombone and tuba groups, an event that coincided with its constitution in 1972, the first formation of this type in Spain: the Spanish Radio and Television Brass Ensemble (abbreviated in Spanish as GMRTVE). This ensemble was active until 2004 and denominated Spanish Brass Ensemble, causing us to fix the chronological structure in 1981, as we explained in our investigation.

Therefore, we must clarify that well into the twentieth century, the expression brass ensemble or brass choir was used for any number of formations that were exclusively composed of instruments such as trumpet, horn, trombone and tuba. However, it wasn’t until 1950 that this title began to be used referring to a group formed of six or more heterogeneous brass instruments, with or without percussion, mainly in North American bibliographies. This occurred around the same time as the standardization of the brass quintet — two trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba, as well as the normalization of the brass trio as trumpet, horn and trombone.

Similarly, we should not forget that the phrase brass ensemble also serves to differentiate another group, the brass band, which is an ensemble of around twenty-five brass instruments — mostly conical brass instruments such as the piston horn, the flugelhorn and the tuba — the ensemble originating in the United Kingdom in the 1930’s.

On the other hand, we want to emphasize that the musical historiography did not deal with the repertoire that was the center of our investigation. We didn’t even find literature in Spain that defined the expression of brass ensemble, and even, whenever music of this type had been interpreted in Spain, prior to the formation of the Spanish Radio and Television Brass Ensemble, it was announced as a certain orchestra, without mention of any type of ensemble for brass like we are investigating. Thus, in our work to catalogue such performances, we use the historiographical references published at the international level (mainly in the English language) in order to highlight numerous articles from specialized journals, monographs, collective works and several investigations defended at various American universities.

Finally, we specified “Concert Music” in the title to show that this music was meant to be performed in the context of a concert, that it is not just music with brass. This music had a specific purpose and does not include music such as parade music or processions of a civil, military or religious character. In addition, we focus on original works written for the formation of six or more heterogeneous brass instruments. We do not include different adaptations or transcriptions of composite pieces for other types of instruments or templates, nor the scores that originally were written as a part or movement of a larger work.

A concert program of the GMRTVE, live broadcast of the program Dimecres de Ràdio Nacional (1976).

In all, the main objective of this work explains that there was a double perspective: on the one hand, the study of the genesis, trajectory and characteristics of the GMRTVE between 1972 and 1981; on the other, the study and analysis of the seventeen original pieces that were composed during these years.

The structure of the investigation

The doctoral thesis, Concert Music for Brass Ensemble in Spain: a study and analysis of repertory for Spanish Radio and Television Brass Ensemble (1972-1981) is organized in four chapters that have a double perspective — historical and analytical — which is included in the research.

Chapter I, Background. Characteristics, circumstances and purposes of the concert repertoire for brass ensemble between 1900 and 1972 in Spain, is an historical tour, at an international level, of the original concert pieces for brass ensemble — from the second half of the sixteenth century until the end of the 1960’s — and ending with the study of the following ten works written by eight Spanish authors between 1900 and 1972:

  • Fanfare sobre el nombre de Arbós (1934), by Manuel de Falla.

  • Miniatures 5-XI (1944) and Miniatures 5-XII (1944), by Ricard Lamote de Grignon.
  • Fanfàrria en homenatge a Picasso (ca. 1950), by Xavier Montsalvatge.
  • Four Preludes for Brass and Timpani (1962), by Lluís Benejam.
  • Misa de la juventud (1965) and In memoriam Anaïck (1966), by Cristóbal Halffter.
  • Sinfonías para 17 metales (1966), by Luis de Pablo.
  • Pater Noster (1966), by José Peris.
  • Pregón para una Pascua pobre (1968), by Rodolfo Halffter.

Chapter II, the Spanish Radio and Television Brass Ensemble (1972-1981): genesis, formation and trajectory, was devoted to the study of this ensemble through six epigraphs that addressed, among other issues, the genesis and formation of the group, the repertoire used in their performances during those years, and the biographical trajectories of the fourteen performers who participated in the ensemble’s activities between 1972 and 1981:

  • Trumpets: José Chicano Cisneros (1972-1981), Ricardo Gasent Castellanos (1972-1981), Juan Sánchez Luque (1972-1977) and Enrique Rioja Lis (1977-1981).
  • Horns: Luis Morató Salvador (1972-1981), Salvador Seguer Juan (1972-1975) and Jesús Troya Pérez (1975-1981).
  • Trombones: Benjamín Esparza Gil (1972-1979), Humberto Martínez Aguilar (1979), Francisco Muñoz Pavón (1973-1981), Benito del Castillo Bueno (1974) and Pedro Botías Berzosa (1974-1981).
  • Tubas: José Luis López Caballero (1972-1974, 1980), and Ramón Benavent Peris (1979-1981).

Spanish Brass Ensemble [LP] (1987). From left to right: Troya, Botías, Gasent, Benavent, Morató, Muñoz, Rioja and Chicano.

Chapters III and IV present a parallel structure within two subparagraphs constituting the concert repertoire of the seventeen scores that were studied for brass ensembles in Spain, during the chronological framework covered by the thesis.

On one hand, in Chapter III, titled The growth of concert music for brass ensembles in Spain: study and analysis of the musical creation dedicated to the Spanish Radio and Television Brass Ensemble (1972-1981), the ten compositions included were the following:

  • Zubi berrian (1973), Lúa, lúa (1973) and Agur jaunak (1976), by José María Sanmartín (1927-1977).

The first measures of Zubi berrian (Sanmartín).

  • Divertimento (1973), by Narcís Bonet (1933).
  • Irradiaciones (1973), by Ángel Arteaga (1928-1984).
  • Reguladores (1974), by Carlos Cruz de Castro (1941).

The first measures of Reguladores (Castro).

  • Pequeña suite para grupo de metales (1975), by Manuel Berná (1915-2011).
  • Divertimento para Carlos (ca.1975), by José Chicano (1929-ca.1998).
  • Diaphonias (1975), by José Peris (1924-2017).

The first measures of Diaphonias (Peris).

  • Églogas (1979), by Jesús Villa Rojo (1940).

On the other hand, in Chapter IV, titled The study and analysis of other compositions of concert music for brass ensemble in Spain between 1972 and 1981, we studied the following seven compositions:

  • Jondo (1974) and Anemos A (1975), by Francisco Guerrero Marín (1951-1997).

The first measures of Anemos A (Guerrero).

  • Música para metales, órgano y timbales (1976), by Luis Blanes Arqués (1929-2009).
  • Suite litúrgica (1976), by Amando Blanquer Ponsoda (1935-2005).
  • Concierto para sexteto de metales (1976), by Miguel Grande Martín (1940).