Thursday, December 3

Saint Cecilia, patron saint of music

I sing with piano accompaniment at the Ballester family home.

I sing with piano accompaniment at the Ballester family home.
A Darblade – Collection: F. Sala

We celebrate this Sunday the feast of Santa Cecilia, universally recognized as the patron saint of music. The Catholic Church commemorates on November 22, the death of Saint Cecilia, a woman from a noble family who died in an indeterminate year between 180 and 230 AD after being tortured for her conversion to Christianity.

This primitive martyr already had a wide veneration and recognition on the part of the Christian community in the fourth century, although it was not until the year 1594, when Pope Gregory XIII named her patron saint of music, and this continues to be the case today. Cecilia’s artistic reputation was probably the result of a poor translation of the ‘Actas de Santa Cecilia’ in which the Latin word ‘organs’ is the plural of ‘organum’, meaning ‘musical instrument’, and was translated as an “organ.” Then the phrase “while the musical instruments sounded, she said to the Lord” became “she sang and was accompanied by an organ.” And so Cecilia became the patron saint of music, and from the 15th century (in the field of courtly Gothic) the saint began to be painted carrying a small portable organ, and other instruments (a harpsichord, a lute, etc.)

She is also the patron saint of the municipalities of Alfafara (Valencia), and Villalán de Campos (Valladolid), her attributes being the organ, the lute and the roses. In his honor, an important movement for the renewal of Catholic sacred music in the late 19th century was called Cecilianism.

Torrevieja has always been considered as a town in which, in large numbers, its people have dedicated themselves to cultivating the art of music. The first news about the harmonic hobby comes to us through the local press at the end of the 19th century through the newspaper “El Torre Vigía” which introduces us to the cultural movements of the population, in comments by the illustrious poet, musician, writer and lawyer Luis Cánovas Martínez: «… the art that has been cultivated in Torrevieja with preference is music. How much and how much name is crowded to the points of the pen claiming, with legitimate titles that I write on this paper! Remembering no more that of that egregious pianist named Emilia Cánovas and that of a distinguished singer named Dolores Manresa, I want to limit myself to our most worthy teacher Antonio Gil Lucco, in whom it is not known what to admire more, if his talent or his modesty; to primitive Sánchez, whose iron hands make us moan, sigh, laugh and sing at the piano, and to so many whose names would make this paragraph endless and whose oblivion would attract legitimate anger on my head ». We must highlight the musical work carried out by Luis Cánovas Martínez, doctor of Law from the University of Madrid and State lawyer, a person who among other aspects carried out musical studies, wrote musical works such as “Torrevieja yesterday, today and tomorrow”, zarzuelas and numerous symphonic works, for song and piano, among which is “La Tempestad”, a piece for piano and song dedicated to the Spanish Society for the Salvage of Shipwrecked, he also practiced journalism, wrote poetry, novels and various plays.

Frequent in those years were improvised musical evenings, such as the one held on August 25, 1887 in the house of the then mayor Manuel Ballester. Antoñita Escalera, accompanied on piano by Juan Puigcerver, editor of the newspaper “El Torre Vigía”, sang with delicacy, good taste and tuning, the romance “Stella Confidente”, obtaining well-deserved applause. The young ladies Pepita Galiana, accompanied on piano by Pepita Rodríguez, recited “El canto de amor”, a melody that was interpreted masterfully by both. Teresita Sala played the fantasy “Titania” on the piano, being the object of spontaneous expressions of liking and warmly applauded, whose adhesions ceased with the appearance at the piano of Concepción Rodríguez, who bordered on the clean and careful execution of Stradella’s aria, being paid with a round of applause. This pleasant meeting ended, accompanied by Juan Puigcerver on the piano with the waltz, the chorus and the mazurka of the zarzuela «Gran Vía» that with great tuning and exquisite taste the sisters Pepita, Concha and Conchita Galiana, Concepción Rodríguez and Antoñita Escalera sang in union of Messrs. Manresa and Bianqui Martínez. Such was the success of the musical evening that, on September 4, Manuel Ballester met again at home. Mr. Ravello, at the request of dear gentlemen and ladies who were attending these pleasant meetings for the first time, sang, accompanied on the piano by Luis Cánovas Martínez, the Rotoli serenade “Cara Riondina”, admiring its delicacy, elegance and good taste for the singing. It was also necessary to repeat the duet of F. Campana “Yo vivo amo” that Ravello performed with such success together with Pepita Galiana, accompanied on piano by Luis Cánovas. Ravello let the baritone romance of the second act of the zarzuela “El Conde de San Umberto” be heard, lyrics and music by the Torrevieja composer Cánovas Martínez, who was accompanied by him on piano. Notes – not musical, but journalistic – that reveal a musical cliché from Torrevieja’s past.

Happy Santa Cecilia’s day to all, especially musicians and music lovers. Have a nice day!

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