Program 129
"Arriaga"

MUSIC: Arriaga: opening of String Quartet No. 1, Third Movement, performed by the Rasoumovsky Quartet [Ensayo ENY-CD-3424, track 7] [under the following]

Chances are, no matter how well you know classical music, you cannot identify the composer of the music you hear in the background. It was written by a child prodigy who died an early death, but it’s not by Mozart. In fact it was composed by a man who is referred to as “The Spanish Mozart” and who was born on the 50th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. You are hearing the opening of the third movement of the String Quartet No. 1 in D Minor by Juan Crisóstomo Jacobo Antonio de Arriaga y Balzola. We’ll call him Arriaga for short. He lived from 1806 only until 1826 -- 19 years -- which explains both why he didn’t write more music and why you may not have heard of him before.

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Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and the next hour will be devoted to the music of Arriaga, beginning right now from the start of his First String Quartet as performed by the Rasoumovsky Quartet on an Ensayo compact disc.

MUSIC: Arriaga: String Quartet No. 1, performed by the Rasoumovsky Quartet [Ensayo ENY-CD-3424, tracks 5-8] [24:04]

Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga’s First String Quartet, performed by the Rasoumovsky Quartet.

Arriaga was born in Bilbao, Spain, in 1806. His father and older brother first taught him music. He wrote a Spanish opera when he was only 13, before learning the elements of harmony. In 1821, when he was about 15, he was sent to the Paris Conservatory to study violin and harmony. In two years he became so proficient that he wrote a piece which the famous composer Cherubini is said to have pronounced a masterpiece. On his premature death at the age of 19, he left three string quartets, an overture, a symphony and many other unpublished works, including another opera, instrumental and church music.

You are listening to the music of Arriaga on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing of the program]

The opera Arriaga wrote when he was only 13 is called Los esclavos felices / The Happy Slaves. Unfortunately, only the overture survives. It is a mixture of the Italian style, Mozart and Haydn, the late Baroque, the pure Classical style and Rossini. In this Naxos recording, it is performed by the Algarve Orchestra conducted by Álvaro Cassuto.

MUSIC: Arriaga: Overture to Los Esclavos Felices, performed by the Algarve Orchestra conducted by Álvaro Cassuto [Naxos 8.557207, track 1] [7:18]

Juan Arriaga's Overture to his opera Los esclavos felices / The Happy Slaves. The Algarve Orchestra was conducted by Álvaro Cassuto.

Arriaga’s three string quartets are all excellent pieces of music, clearly demonstrating the great tragedy to the world of music of a life that lasted less than two decades. I only have time to play one more of his string quartets in this hour, so I’ve selected Number Two, frankly, just because it is the shortest. If you want to hear his Third String Quartet, I suggest you buy the compact disc by the Rasoumovsky Quartet, which includes all three. Here’s Number Two.

MUSIC: Arriaga: String Quartet No. 2, performed by the Rasoumovsky Quartet [Ensayo ENY-CD-3424, tracks 1-4] [19:41]

Juan Arriaga’s String Quartet No. 2, performed by the Rasoumovsky Quartet.

That concludes this hour of Compact Discoveries which I devoted to the music of the very short-lived Spanish composer Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga. I hope you’ve enjoyed these recordings and that they have been true compact discoveries for you. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

MUSIC: Arriaga: opening of String Quartet No. 1, Third Movement, performed by the Rasoumovsky Quartet [Ensayo ENY-CD-3424, track 7] [under the following]

For a complete transcript of this program, including information on all the recordings used, or to hear this or other Compact Discoveries programs streamed on demand, go to www.compactdiscoveries.com on the World Wide Web. This is program number 129.

This program was supported by contributions from three anonymous South Florida donors. One of the recordings used was supplied by ArkivMusic.com, for which I thank them. The other was supplied by listener Walter Meyer of Reston, Virginia, along with the idea of selecting Arriaga as a theme for this Compact Discoveries hour. Thank you, Walter Meyer. And thanks to Mary Weiss of West Palm Beach, Florida, for her help with Spanish pronunciation. I hope I’ve been a good student.

Thanks as well to all the public radio stations that carry this program. And thank YOU for listening, and for supporting your local public radio station!

This Compact Discoveries program is a presentation of WPVM, Asheville, North Carolina.

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ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story Books, publishers of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor, selected and edited by Fred Flaxman. Samples and ordering available at bretnor dot com, b-r-e-t-n-o-r dot com; and by Educate Yourself for Tomorrow, an on-line guide to 37 different Liberal Arts courses for personal development, including “Mozart and the Evolution of Western Music.” On the web at onlinehumanities.com.

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