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El Anfión Matritense

(Madrid, 1843)

Prepared by Juan de Dios Rodríguez Bailón
Online only (2009)

El Anfión Matritense [AMA] was published four times monthly from January to July 1843 and produced twenty-six issues. Printed in Madrid by the Publishing House Panorama Español, the journal was directed by Miguel Agustín Príncipe, a major writer, poet, journalist, and gifted amateur performer. AMA was connected with the Madrid-based Asociación Musica, an organization that included well-known Spanish composers, performers, critics, pedagogues and members of Spanish royal family. Each issue is eight pages long: the first part consists of a summary of the journal’s content, information for subscribers and one or two articles dealing with musical subjects, followed by a poetry section and the chronicle of major musical events.

The journal’s Prospecto exposes its aims and those of the Asociación Musica, namely, to establish as a basic principle the promotion of "art music in Spain, making it available to all budgets, and satisfying both the needs of professional musicians and the demands of the amateurs." The main topics treated in the publications include music criticism, biographies, and the history of music and musical instruments. The journal also produced supplements containing music and poetry, short stories, novels and anecdotes. A detailed study of the topics treated in the Anfión Matritense reveals the following statistics: poetry represents 24.4% ; national and international chronicles 22.7%; history of music 15.9 %; editorials 13.6%,; discussion of music 7.9% ; music theory 5.1%; advertising 4.5%; organology 2.3%; music pedagogy 1.7%; miscellaneous 1.1% and fiction 0.8%.

The subjects of the articles dealing with music follow the paradigm of romanticism. The sentiment of nationalism is palpable in the constant search for a Spanish national opera and the references to Spanish folklore, both recurring themes in the publication. The chronicles reflect on the musical life in the most frequented social salons (whether palaces, bourgeois salons or other institutions) and theaters (that witnessed the “conflict” between the opera and zarzuela). Though the journal focuses on musical events taking place in Madrid, it also gives good accounts of performances in other Spanish cities (such as Granada, Málaga, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, and Valladolid), as well as world capitals (such as Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Naples, Paris, and Vienna). Finally, although the journal focuses on secular music, religious music is also treated in general articles and specific reviews.

For each AMA issue subscribers could choose one of the following four supplements titled: De obras elementales [From elementary works], a Método de Solfeo [Method of solfege]; De armonía, contrapunto y composición [About harmony, counterpoint and composition]; De música recreativa [Of recreational music], including a selection of pieces for piano and singing; and De música fácil al alcance de todos los aficionado [Music easily accessible to all aficionados]. The latter contains a variety of Spanish songs, accompanied by piano, guitar, flute, waltzes and light compositions. Also, annual subscribers received several lithographs by famous contemporary artists (up to six a year) and could participate in a lottery for a piano. As the publication expanded, the journal added more supplements dedicated to the guitar, the flute, the violin and the music bands. The works distributed were numerous and by a wide range of authors. For example, Indalecio Soriano Fuertes’s outstanding solfeggio and harmony method by, the vocal, piano; flute compositions by Gaztambide and Florencio Lahoz ; guitar compositions by Antonio Dionisio Aguado, and organ works by Roman Gimeno.

The roster of contributors to the publication included a number of well-known writers: Pedro Mata, Indalecio Soriano Fuertes, Florencio Lahoz, José María de Albuerne, Basilio Basili, Juan Antonio Nin, Pedro Albéniz, Joaquin Gaztambide, Eduardo Dominguez de Gironella and Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda.. Queen Isabel II and her sister the Infanta Maria Luisa Fernanda were among the journal’s many prestigious subscribers.