La Iberia Musical

(Madrid, 1842)

Prepared by Belén Vargas
Online only (2008)

La Iberia Musical: Periódico Filarmónico de Madrid. Diario de los Artistas de las Sociedades y de los Teatros, dirigido por una Sociedad de Profesores [Musical Iberia: Periodical of the Philharmonic of Madrid. Diary of the artists of the societies and the theatres, directed by a society of professors] (IBM) was published weekly in Madrid from 2 January to 28 August 1842 . It was the first Spanish journal to deal exclusively with music on a professional and critical level. Joaquín Espín y Guillén, the journal’s director, owner and main contributor, was supported by the Academia Filarmónica Matritense, of which Espín y Guillén was president. The music store of Lodre and Carrafa regularly advertised in the pages of IBM and served as the agency at which of the journal’s suscription was purchased in Madrid, and which provided journal subscribers with printed scores (supplements). Each issue of IBM consists of four pages, paginated continuously from the beginning to the end of publication, and with independently paginated sheet music and litographs provided as supplements.

The journal’s contents comprise a regular column for a table of contents and notes to subscribers, one or two articles, local (Critica musical), national (Crónica musical) and foreign (Crónica extranjera) reviews of musical and theatrical performances, and miscellaneous news. Occasionally the journal includes writings about instrument manufacture in Spain (the pianos of José Larrú and the harps of Tiburcio Martín), a series of articles on fictional musical themes treating well-known composers (for example, "Aventuras de artistas: dos noches de Mozart" and "El rosario de Haydn o el canto del cisne"). A biographical sketch of the famous Italian tenor Giovanni Battista Rubini is a feature of early issues. The miscelaneous columns ("Variedades"), anecdotes ("Anécdotas"), musical curiosities ("Curiosidades musicales"), philharmonic news ("Novedades filarmónicas"), notes from subscribers (“Remitidos de suscriptores”) and the advertisement section make up the remainder of each of the journal’s content.

Of great interest are the regular reviews which form the central part of each issue. Great attention is given to operatic performances in the principal theaters, the Teatro de la Cruz and the Teatro del Circo, where the Italian operas of Bellini (Norma), Donizetti (Lucrezia Borgia, La Figlia del reggimento , L’Elisir d’amore and Alina, regina do Golconda), Nicolai (Il Templario), Luigi Ricci (Un’avventura di Scaramuccia), Mercadante (La Vestale), Paccini (Saffo) and Rossini (Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Otello) were performed.

La Iberia Musical distributed two types of supplements. The first, Colección de piezas escogidas de piano y canto por célebres maestros españoles y extranjeros, consists of sixteen musical supplements distributed every two or three issues, and includes eight songs for voice and piano (four in Spanish and four in Italian) by Joaquín Espín, Theodore Döhler, Charles de Bériot and Heinrich Proch; and six Romances for piano solo by Sigismond Thalberg, waltzes by Joseph Labitzki, José Miró and Rossini. The second supplement, Galería de La Iberia Musical is a collection of lithograph portraits of significant artistic figures including the critic Indalecio Soriano Fuertes, the Spanish contralto Isabel Colbran and Meyerbeer.

Most of the articles published in La Iberia Musical are unsigned but it is possible that they were writen by Joaquín Espín y Guillén, since every issue bears ultimately his signature as "Director and Principal Contributor." Other contributors include Mariano Soriano Fuertes (and to a lesser extent Indalecio Soriano Fuertes) and in the literary section Gregorio Romero Larrañaga. The journal had correspondents in the Spanish provinces of La Coruña, Valencia, and Reus, as well as in Lisbon, and reproduced articles from provincial newspapers and journals such as La Lira del Tormes from Salamanca, and La Tarántula and La Alambra, both from Granada.

The main articles dealing with reviews of performances and compositions─published in the the journal’s first two pages─are of great interest for their scientific character and for the critical opinions expressed therein. Among the topics are Rossini’s Stabat Mater, the compositions of Paulina Cabrero Martínez (the first woman composer to be published in Spain), and the musical method of Gaspare Romano. Other articles of special interest deal with biographical sketches of Spanish composers─Martín y Soler, Indalecio Soriano Fuertes, Arriaga , José Miró, Isabel Colbran and Gomis─and singers─Antonio Poggi, Erminia Poggi-Frezzolini, Paulina García-Viardot and Manuel García─and essays on the general history of music, including a remarkable series on the history of music in Spain by Mariano Soriano Fuertes. There are also articles on the state of music in Spain reflecting concerns about the situation in the music education insititutions and criticizing in particular the lack of activity in the Conservatory in Madrid.

This RIPM-index is based on two different copies of La Iberia Musical: one from the Biblioteca Nacional de España, and a second copy from the Hemeroteca Municipal de Madrid (a microfilm of which is located in the RIPM archives).