Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga, the “Spanish Mozart”

Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga was a Basque composer who died in 1826 at the age of 19. He was nicknamed “the Spanish Mozart” after he died, because, like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he was both a child prodigy and an accomplished composer who died young. He died in Paris of a “galloping consumption,” likely, tuberculosis. Like Mozart, he was buried in a public burial ground.

Arriaga’s Symphony in D Major is one of the composer’s only surviving works. It was performed at the Handel and Hayden society in Boston last week. Zoë Madonna, in the Boston Globe wrote,

 The symphony utilizes a large-scale instrumental palette, and [conductor Nicholas] McGegan emphasized the game of contrasts, as sudden bursts erupted from smoother melodies. Rough-hewn strings and winds swelled together in the Andante and diverse colors of instruments interplayed in the Minuet. Some wind squawks and horn flubs jumped out, but these were readily forgivable in exchange for the tactile, textured musical experience offered throughout the evening.

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Arriaga was born in Rigoitia, in the Basque region of northern Spain

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