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What Did Franco’s Spain Do to Spanish Music?

At some point in late January 1939, after two and a half years of civil war, the Spanish Republican Army’s Fifth Regiment disbanded. Its members crossed the Pyrenees into France, fleeing General Franco’s troops. Among their numbers were some thirty military musicians, all of whom were interned in the refugee camp of Le Barcarès, near Perpignan, as soon as they found themselves in French territory.

On April 1, 1939, the musicians were greeted with the news of Franco’s victory and the end of the Spanish Civil War. Their fortunes changed in May: all of them were offered spaces on board the Sinaia to travel to Mexico, whose president, Lázaro Cárdenas, had pledged to welcome several thousand Spanish refugees.

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On board the Sinaia, the musicians quickly organized themselves under the name of Agrupación Musical Madrid (or Banda Madrid, for short). Every afternoon on the ship, they gave concerts on the deck, while their fellow passengers, all of them Spanish refugees, gathered around in admiration and nostalgia, listening to music they had known well in their home country. For their first concert, for example, the Banda Madrid played instrumental excerpts from three zarzuelas, Spanish-language musical theatre plays (Los sobrinos del Capitán Grant, La leyenda del beso, and La boda de Luis Alonso), as well as Puenteareas, a pasodoble (a double step military march) by Reveriano Soutullo, also a zarzuela composer.

Present-day Spaniards might regard these repertoire choices as unusual. But as is the case with other musical genres indigenous to Spain, they initially developed with no ties to one political ideology over another. Zarzuela is nowadays perceived in the national imagination as an integral part of musical life under the Franco regime and, as such, outdated and conservative. It is not by chance that the Spanish ska band La Raíz chose zarzuela for

Article source: https://daily.jstor.org/what-did-francos-spain-do-to-spanish-music/

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