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La Gaceta Musical Barcelonesa

(Barcelona, 1861-1865)

Prepared by Esperanza Berrocal

La Gaceta Musical Barcelonesa was published in Barcelona from 3 February 1861 to 3 December 1865 in 179 four-page issues printed in a two-column format. Strongly influenced by French musical culture, the journal’s goal was to resist the domination of Italian musical culture by supporting the development of Spanish music, and particularly that of Cataluña. The GMB was sponsored and financed by Miguel Budó, its publisher and owner, and his brother Juan Budó, a music publisher and owner of a music store. However, the principal force behind the journal was its director Mariano Soriano Fuertes (1817-1880), an experienced writer, music historian, pedagogue and composer. Though his contributions tended to excel in patriotism, Soriano Fuertes’s articles display an historical and musicological perspective that both raises them above the level of contemporary Spanish music criticism, and makes La Gaceta Musical Barcelonesa one of the most interesting music journals in Spain during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Issues consist primarily of reviews and news preceded by one, or at times two, major articles. Two columns appear systematically throughout the journal’s publication: first, “Variedades,” dealing with musical or theatrical events in Spain and abroad, followed by “Barcelona,” dealing exclusively with news from this city. Beginning in May 1861, the journal began regular publication of the column “Teatros de la Corte,” which offers news and reviews from Madrid. Information on musical life in Barcelona deals primarily with music education, the activities of choral societies (orfeones) and news related to the city’s principal theater, the Teatro del Liceo. In fact, in its nearly five years of publication, La Gaceta Musical Barcelonesa offers a detailed chronicle of musical life at this theater. The journal also focuses on music education, calling regularly for the Spanish government to raise music teachers’ salaries and to reform music education programs in the conservatories. Other articles treat a rich variety of subjects ranging from the usual topics of opera and zarzuela, to those more specialized in the areas of music theory, bibliography, piano manufacturing, aesthetics, and performance practice. Biographies of musicians and artists are also included.

With respect to news from Madrid the inauguration of the Sociedad de Cuartetos (Quartet Society) by Jesús de Monasterio in 1863 receives particular attention. In addition, the journal actively participates in polemical discussions of musical issues in the capital, including articles dealing with a controversial new system of music notation proposed by theorist José Gil y Navarro and opposed by a group of professors at the Madrid Conservatory. If in its early issues the journal advocates the zarzuela, it later criticizes the genre, protesting against the poor quality of the librettos.

Interest in French music is noticeable in the journal. For example, two extensive articles deal with the first performance of Gounod’s Faust at the Teatro del Liceo in 1864, and, French composers-such as Hector Berlioz and Fromental Hálevy-are frequently treated. Although La Gaceta Musical Barcelonesa opposes the prominence of Italian opera, Verdi occupies an important place in its pages. Changes in performance practice are reflected in the journal by an increasing demand on singers to respect the composer’s work and style of composition. Beginning in issue No. 14, the journal publishes literary articles, poems, novels, and short stories that appear thereafter sporadically. Articles on arts, other than music, are rare. Occasionally there are also reviews of publications such as Saldoni’s Diccionario biográfico-bibliográfico de efemérides de músicos españoles.