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Usandizaga, José Maria

Usandizaga, José Maria

Usandizaga, José Maria, Basque composer; b. San Sebastián, March 31, 1887; d. there, Oct. 5, 1915. Encouraged by Planté and d’Indy, he entered the Paris Schola Cantorum when he was 14, where he studied piano with Grovlez and counterpoint with Tricon. In 1906 he returned to his native city and associated himself with the Basque musical movement, to which he gave a great impetus with the production of his stage work Mendi mendiyan (High in the Mountains; 1909-10; San Sebastián, 1911); then followed his drama lírico Las golondrinas (The Swallows; 1913; Madrid, Feb. 5, 1914; rev. as an opera by his brother, R. Usandizaga, Barcelona, 1929), which obtained excellent success; his last stage work was the drama lirico La llama (The Flame; 1915; completed by R. Usandizaga, San Sebastián, 1918). He also wrote several orch. works, including a Suite (1904), a symphonic poem, Dans la mer (1904), Ouverture symphonique sur un theme de plain-chant (1904-05), and band pieces; choral music; songs; folksong arrangements; a String Quartet; works for violin or cello and piano; piano pieces; organ music. His death from tuberculosis at the age of 28 was deeply lamented by Spanish musicians.


L. Villalba Muñoz, Últimos músicos españoles: J.M. U.(Madrid, 1918); J. de Arozamena, J.M. U. y la bella época donostiarra (San Sebastian, 1969).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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