Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga
|Juan Crisóstomo Jacobo Antonio de Arriaga y Balzola|
Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga
January 27, 1806|
|Died||January 17, 1826
|Parents||Juan Simón de Arriaga|
Juan Crisóstomo Jacobo Antonio de Arriaga y Balzola (January 27, 1806 – January 17, 1826) was a Spanish composer. He was nicknamed "the Spanish Mozart" after he died, because, like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he was both a child prodigy and an accomplished composer who died young. They also shared the same first and second baptismal names; and they shared the same birthday, January 27 (fifty years apart).
Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga was born in Bilbao, Biscay, on what would have been Mozart's fiftieth birthday. His father and older brother first taught him music. He then studied the violin under Pierre Baillot, counterpoint with Luigi Cherubini and harmony under François-Joseph Fétis at the Paris Conservatoire. He was so talented that he soon became a teaching assistant in Fétis's class. He died in Paris at the age of nineteen, of a lung ailment, or exhaustion, perhaps both.
The amount of music by Arriaga which has survived to the present day is quite small, reflecting his early death. It includes:
- Opera: Arriaga wrote an opera, Los esclavos felices ("The Happy Slaves"), in 1820 when he was thirteen. It was produced in Bilbao. Only the overture and some fragments have survived.
- Symphony: Arriaga composed a Symphony in D (Sinfonía a gran orquesta), which uses D major and D minor so equally that it is not in either key.
- String quartets: At the age of 16, Arriaga wrote three sparkling and idiomatic string quartets that were published in 1824, and were the only works of his published during his lifetime.
- Other works: Arriaga also wrote the following:
- An octet, Nada y Mucho
- Pieces of church music: a Mass (lost), Stabat Mater, Salve Regina, Et vitam venturi saeculi (lost), cantatas (Agar, Erminia, All' Aurora, Patria)
- Instrumental compositions: a nonet, Tres Estudios de Caracter for piano, La Hungara for violin and piano, Variations for String Quartet and numerous Romances
Arriaga's music was used to create an opera pasticcio, Die arabische Prinzessin. The work was commissioned by the Barenboim-Said Foundation from the composer Anna-Sophie Brüning and the author Paula Fünfeck, and is based on a traditional Arabic tale. The piece was premiered under the title Die Sultana von Cadiz by the Youth Orchestra of the Barenboim-Said Foundation and local children's choirs at the Cultural Palace, Ramallah on 14 July 2009. The music publisher Boosey & Hawkes list further performance runs in Leipzig (in 2011), in Bonn, Bilbao, and Barañáin (in 2013) and Madrid, Coburg and Linz in 2014.
Arriaga's music is "elegant, accomplished and notable for its harmonic warmth" (New Grove Concise Dictionary of Music). His greatest works are undoubtedly the three string quartets, which (like his predecessors D. Scarlatti, Soler and Boccherini) contain notably Spanish ethnic rhythmic and melodic elements, especially in the galloping 6/8 finale of No. 1 in D minor and the meditative second (slow) movements of No. 2 in A major (an impressive set of variations in D major taking off from the slow D major variation movements in Mozart's K. 464 and Beethoven's Op. 18 No. 5, which climaxes in a D minor variation even more passionate than Mozart's D minor variation in K. 464, in the form of an impassioned, plangent lament on the top two strings of the viola going up to the second A above middle C) and No. 3 in E-flat major (a tender G major lullaby for the newborn Christ child). Periodwise, his style is on the borderline between late Classicism and early Romanticism, ranging from the late Classical idiom of Mozart to the proto-Romanticism of early Beethoven.
According to Grove, Arriaga's death "before he was 20 was a sad loss to Basque music." Following his early death, with the only reliable biographical material being some reports by Fétis, his life story was fictionalized to play into rising Basque nationalism. A public theatre in his home city of Bilbao carries his name.
- O salutaris Hostia. Stabat Mater dolorosa. Air d’Oedipe à Colone. Herminie. Air de Médée. Duo de Ma Tante Aurore. Agar dans le desert. Il Fondamento, Paul Dombrecht. Fuga Libera FUG515 2005
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Juan de Arriaga.|
- Free scores by Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga y Balzola at the International Music Score Library Project
- Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga
- The Gramophone entry to Arriaga in The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music (1994) Oxford University Press, Inc.
- Arriaga String Quartet Nos.1-3 sound-bites and discussion of works
- Article on Arriaga's Symphony (Accessed 10.17.11)