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1936: Antonio José, forgotten composer

October 11th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1936, the Spanish composer Antonio José was shot by Falangists during the Spanish Civil War.

The 33-year-old Burgos native (English Wikipedia page | the more detailed Spanish) was a rising young star, a writer, teacher and “folklorist” who had only that April earned plaudits for a paper on popular songs at an international musicology conference.

That July, the Spanish Civil War erupted … and the fascists clapped him in irons and shot him in the marshes near Estepar, Spain. I have not been able to find any clear documentation as to specifically how he earned the death sentence — which is not to say that the Spanish Falange deserves the benefit of the doubt for the regularity of its judicial procedures.

Despite Maurice Ravel’s (pre-Civil War) opinion that Jose would become “the Spanish composer of our century,” Jose’s work vanished into obscurity after his untimely death. Pieces like this Sonata Para Guitarra have only recently been widely rediscovered.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Artists,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Intellectuals,Shot,Spain,Wartime Executions

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3 thoughts on “1936: Antonio José, forgotten composer”

  1. Bob Long says:

    The link to the listing for Miguel Ángel’s book at UCSD is: http://roger.ucsd.edu/search/t?SEARCH=En%20tinta%20roja&searchscope=9
    and online there is a link to Yolanda Acker’s entry on Anotonio José in the Oxford Music Online at: http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/47254#S47254.2

  2. Bob Long says:

    Although this post is 4 years old, I hope the poster and the commenter both take the time to look again into the incredible story and talent of Antonio José (Martínez Palacios was his full last name though he only went by his given name). Here are links to both his music and to the work of the diligent author, Miguel Ángel Palacios Garoz, who is the composer´s chief biographer. I am working on my dissertation about artists who lived (and died) under the Franco regime and Antonio José is one of the three artists on whom I am concentrating. His talent was enormous and extends to orchestral, choral, and piano works in great number. The Falange (the Spanish fascist party) was both responsible for his arrest and his execution and it has become quite clear from my research and also others who have examined his life that he was killed because he was favorably inclined to the philosophy of the Republic´s secular education and approach to open expression in art. However, he neither belonged to a political party, nor did he crusade for any political ideals. In other words, he was a victim of the Franco repression that carted off not only innocent artists, but teachers, and town administrators who had any remote sympathy or feelings for democracy that would stand might be an obstacle to their project of a conservative, Catholic, authoritarian government. The blanket label of ¨”spy” or accusations about espionage were common themes in this type of execution, but these were merely fabrications in this entirely extra-legal procedure that was calculate to force obedience on the whole of the population.
    The links are 1) a video portrait of Antonio José using a movement from one of his orchestral works a: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT15zivTr74&list=UUkQ3GKezCDor5bNkjiGxJHw&index=7&feature=plcp and 2) a link to the Spanish book by Professor Garoz on the life and writing of Antonio José. AS of now the book in the US is only available at University of California, San Diego, but it can be access there through any of the system libraries. My on-going work and a master thesis by Yolanda Acker of Melbourne University in Australia are the only English material available now, but that will change. Already there is more and more of his work being performed, not only in Spain, but in other parts of the world. The guitar sonata posted above is now a staple of the contemporary classical guitar repertoire. It has been continually recorded by artists worldwide since the mid-1980s, even though for forty years the regime through a blanket over the presentation of any of his works.

  3. Jeff Blanks says:

    Damn! First-rate stuff there–arguably the equal of his compatriot Joaquin Rodrigo, born just two years before. A truly regrettable loss–let’s hope more is done to revive his memory.

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