Asturias (Leyenda) is a musical work written by the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz.
It was originally written for the piano and set in the key of G minor. It was first published in Barcelona, by Juan Bta. Pujol & Co., in 1892 as the prelude of a three-movement set entitled Chants d'Espagne.
The name Asturias (Leyenda) was given to it posthumously by the German publisher Hofmeister, who included it in the 1911 "complete version" of the Suite española, although Albéniz never intended the piece for this suite. Despite the new name, this music is not considered suggestive of the folk music of the northern Spanish region of Asturias, but rather of Andalusian flamenco traditions. Leyenda, Hofmeister's subtitle, means legend. The piece is noted for the delicate, intricate melody of its middle section and abrupt dynamic changes.
Albéniz's biographer, Walter Aaron Clark, describes the piece as "pure Andalusian flamenco" with a main theme that mimics the guitar technique of alternating the thumb and fingers of the right hand, playing a pedal-note open string with the index finger and a bass melody with the thumb. The theme itself suggests the rhythm of the bulería — a song from the flamenco repertoire. The ‘marcato’/'staccato’ markings suggest both guitar sounds and the footwork of a flamenco dancer. The piece sounds as though it is written in the Phrygian mode which is typical of bulerías. The second section is a reminiscent of a copla — a sung verse following a specific form. Clark states that it is written in typical Albéniz form as it is "presented monophonically but doubled at the fifteenth for more fullness of sound. The music alters between a solo and accompaniment that is typical of flamenco. The short middle section of the piece is written in the style of a malagueña — another flamenco style piece. The malagueña borrows two motives from the previous copla and builds on them. The piece returns to its first theme until a slow "hymn-like" passage ends the piece.
Many have attributed the first transcription for guitar to Francisco Tárrega who put it in its most recognizable key, E minor. According to guitarist and guitar scholar Stanley Yates, the first guitar transcription of the piece was probably by Severino García Fortea, although Andrés Segovia's transcription is the most famous and most influential. The piece has become one of the most important works of the classical guitar repertoire.
- The beginning and middle of Spanish Caravan by The Doors, from the album Waiting for the Sun, contains the main theme.
- It is the basis of Jam & Spoon's famous 1993 trance hit Right in the Night
- It was performed during Nicolas Sarkozy's inauguration as President of France on May 16, 2007, because his wife at the time, born Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz, is the great-granddaughter of the composer, Isaac Albéniz.
- The main theme is used extensively in the soundtrack of the 2008 film Mirrors.
- It is also used in the Iron Maiden song To Tame A Land.
- Asturias is also used in the TV ad for perfume Yves Saint Laurent ' La Nuit de l`Homme ', appearing in the ad is French actor Vincent Cassel .
- A guitar version of Asturias is often played by Chicago classical radio station WFMT (98.7) when experiencing technical difficulties or needing to fill time.
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- Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About... ALBÉNIZ'S LEYENDA (Preludio-Asturias), http://stanleyyates.com/articles/albeniz/leyenda.html