Crucifixus was composed in record time - just over three days - in order to arrive in time to be presented to the fifth edition of the Musical Composition Contest "Golden Harp Trophy" of the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks, which in those years had become the most important event in Spanish musical life in relation to contemporary music.
Crucifixus premiere program (Madrid, january 30th, 1979)
Crucifixus was a finalist in the contest, along with works by Claudio Prieto (the winner), José García Román (second prize) and Joan Guinjoan, after its premiere at the Teatro Real in Madrid, on January 30, 1979, performed by a group of musicians from the ORTVE conducted by José María Franco Gil. The score had been published before the premiere by Editorial Alpuerto, and shortly afterwards the recording was released in a double LP of RCA label, along with the four finalists, completing the side that had corresponded to me with Epílogo del misterio (“Epilogue of Mystery”), for mezzo-soprano and piano, on a text by José Bergamín.
Cover of the LP with the finalist works of the "Golden Harp Trophy" Contest (1979)
Crucifixus was written in september 1978, just after a first composition course held in Santiago de Compostela a few days earlier under the tutelage of Carmelo Bernaola, which meant a profound change in my still incipient way of searching for a personal language. Initially written for 20 string instruments (8 violins, 6 violas, 4 cellos and 2 double basses), it was Bernaola himself who suggested me to include a piano part, in order to create a contrast to the uniform sound of the strings.
The fact that that edition of the "Golden Harp Trophy" Contest was dedicated to the memory of Conrado del Campo suggested to me, as a direct tribute, to work on a dense polyphonic texture through an eight-voice fugue from the cell known as "crucifixus". Let us remember that this term comes from the Latin Creed, and that it was widely used in the Baroque to musically recreate the representation of a cross, by means of a turn of four notes (do-si-mib-re) in which they are imaginatively linked with a stroke the first and fourth sounds, and with another the second and third. The central diminished fourth interval gives the design a special painful character. In relation to the reference to the cross we find it in Bach ("Crucify him!", From St Matthew Passion), as well as in some mass by Johann Kaspar Kerll and in other authors of the time. And especially significant for me was his use as the subject of Fugue No. 4 of The well tempered clavier, which I deeply worked during those years, in the harpsichord classes I received from Genoveva Gálvez.
J. S. Bach, St Mtthew Passion
J. S. Bach, Fugue nº 4 in C# minor of The well tempered claviero
In Crucifixus the design is also the subject of an initial fugue, going on to play an important role in the later sections, with a very different texture, inspiring both the harmonic and melodic aspects of the piece, in which it intervenes prominently.
In 2008, Crucifixus was included in the CD "José Luis Turina. A Portrait", the first number of the collection of contemporary Spanish and Latin American music of the BBVA Foundation, in a recording of the Iuventas Orchestra conducted by José Luis Temes.
Cover of the CD José Luis Turina. A Portrait (2008)
Musical review in "De música"
By Carlos Gómez Amat
(Review read in the program "De música" of the Spanish Broadcasting Society (SER). Madrid, januari 31st 1979)
Once again, the "Golden Harp" Trophy, from the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks, has come to animate our musical life and to present recent works by our composers. On this occasion, the Fifth Contest of Musical Composition of the Savings Banks was dedicated to the memory of Conrado del Campo on the centenary of his birth and the 25th anniversary of his death. The idea of remembering a great Spanish composer who disappeared in this annual contest began last year with Manuel de Falla and serves to complete the cultural sense of the contest. The Savings Banks thus achieve a double objective, doubly beneficial for Spanish music.
A jury made up with Bernaola, Carra, Encinar, Estévez and Franco Gil, had selected, among the many presented, four works that were performed yesterday at the Real: Eloquences by José García Román; GIC 1979 by Joan Guinjoan; Crucifixus by José Luis Turina de Santos and Concert I by Claudio Prieto.
José Luis Turina is a young composer whose presence in the Spanish music scene is being noticed by specialists and by those who are not, which means that he has a true personality. He is an artist who already masters the secrets of the technique and who is sure in his aesthetic line. José Luis Turina seems to have found a synthetic path between certain traditional essences and the languages of our time, a path that is eminently musical and worthy of applause. Crucifixus, which is based on a musical symbol used in past centuries, is written for a string ensemble with piano. This instrument is never the protagonist, and its role is to put particular accents in the course of the work. The strings, very divided, begin in an extreme pianissimo and thus end also, as if the author wanted to value the silence, and show that this music is born from him to lose himself in it at last. The four-note theme acquires presence, and its symbolic value transcends the sound. A melancholic, elegiac work, Crucifixus shows us that José Luis Turina makes music, and not only because his writing, his spelling, is the same as always, but because he has found his little and great secret to tell us something with a language own self.
A jury made up with Enrique Franco, Miguel Alonso, Luis de Pablo and Ros Marbá, awarded the first prize to Claudio Prieto, and the second to García Román. We agree to the Golden Harp, but we cannot agree to the Silver Harp.
One thing that should be clarified in these contests that pay tribute to a great composer is the meaning of that tribute. We believe that those who present themselves must be completely free in their creation, for which it should be noted that the indication "In Memoriam" is only symbolic. If, on the contrary, it is a personal tribute to the disappeared artist, all the works should have the character of an elegy, as did that of José Luis Turina on this occasion. This question may be secondary, but it does not hurt to clarify it.
Finally, this Fifth contest has been a new success for the cultural work and the organization of the Confederation of Savings Banks. The plaques for the four finalists and the awards to the winners were presented by the Director General of Music, Jesús Aguirre, and the director of the Confederation, Miguel Allué.
Premieres by García Román, Guinjoan, José Luis Turina and Prieto
By Antonio Iglesias
(Review published en el newspaper "Informaciones". Madrid, january 31st 1979)
A considerable entry -taking into account the minority nature of these concerts- was registered yesterday afternoon by the Teatro Real, in the final of the V Contest of Musical Composition of the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks, which on this occasion was a tribute to the unforgettable figure of maestro Conrado del Campo, first for the dedication to his memory of the four finalist compositions, and later for the inclusion in a second part of the program of two of his works: the Madrid Overture and the Castilian Sketches.
A first selection jury chose between thirty-five scores presented at this prestigious contest, the four that we heard yesterday and that were competing for two trophies called the Golden Harp and the Silver Harp.
The youngest of the contestants followed: José Luis Turina, with Crucifixus, who uses a simple template: twenty strings and a piano. Perhaps its duration of fourteen minutes is excessive, because it remains in little changeable climates. But even so, from its initial "pianissimo" it seemed to me a beautiful work, well elaborated and in a very well cared counterpoint, with a dramatic imprint - as its title demands - and in which, with an interval of current flavor, it is the fruit of a sensitive evolution supported by cells that, due to their inherent pathos, imprint character. It was the most direct Conradian homage.
Four premieres for the Golden Harp
By Tomás Marco
(Review published en el newspaper "Arriba". Madrid, february 1st 1979)
The V Golden Harp Trophy of the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks has celebrated its final at the Royal Theater with the usual brilliance that has made it the best musical contest in Spain for interpretive seriousness, public expectation, history, amount of the awards and diffusion, since the money is joined by the edition of score and album. This year was dedicated to the memory of Conrado del Campo, from whom the Madrid Overture and the Castilian Sketches (with their interesting "Procession") were heard. These works and the four finalists in the competition were very well performed by a chamber ensemble directed by José María Franco Gil.
The Selection Jury was right with the four finalists, since they had a high quality and were very different aesthetically and technically, perhaps with the highest average general level in the history of the contest. In such a way that if I consider the decision of the Final Jury (Enrique Franco, Bernaola, De Pablo, Miguel Alonso and Ros Marbá) fair, any other would also have been.
Young revelation of the contest was José Luis Turina (1952). Attention to this name, it will give a lot to talk about. I liked his Crucifixus a lot because it reveals a musician with a very solid trade, a connoisseur of classical and modern counterpoint, with a sense of proportion and form, as well as being very musical. There is in these pages an emotion of the same kind that runs in the first beat of Bartok's Music for percussion, strings and celesta, or Lutoslawski's Funeral Music, making me quick to clarify that he owes nothing directly to them. Already on the verge of fully maturing his language, Turina is a splendid promise. At the moment, the reference is that he is the grandson of the great Joaquín Turina, but time can reverse the data. Maybe Joaquín will end up being the grandfather of José Luis, something not bad if it results in the improvement and expansion of Spanish music. And now to hope that the VI Contest has the same brilliance.
Prieto's "Concierto", and García Román's "Elocuencias"
By Enrique Franco
(Review published en el newspaper "El País". Madrid, february 7th 1979)
The two third prizes went to Joan Guinjoan […] and to José Luis Turina, "new to these awards". The best things of this young composer can also be predicted, capable in his Crucifixus of achieving a powerful expressiveness from very pianos nuances and a contrapuntal writing that is as beautiful as it is excellent in workmanship. Turina's office is already that of a mature author; his thought of subtle musicality. From such secure platforms we await the risky flight of his next works. José María Franco-Gil conducted all the scores with the assurance and knowledge —that is, experience— that are usual for him.
At the Real, 5th Composition Contest of Savings Banks
By Ángel del Campo
(Review published en el newspaper "Pueblo". Madrid, february 8th 1979)
This year the Confederation of Savings Banks has honored the memory of Conrado del Campo. In front of a chamber ensemble, Franco Gil gave us two clean, honest versions —without authorized additives, as they should also be declared in preserves and musical manufactures— of Madrid Overture and Castilian Sketches of the honored maestro, true master of performers, directors, composers and critics, that all this was Don Conrado and always exemplary.
[…] Crucifixus, an internalized, intimate page, whispers his confession in the gloom of an empty temple. Dedicated "in memoriam" to Conrado del Campo, the author warns us that it was not conceived nor does it want to be pigeonholed as religious music; its title is simply allusive to some historical-musical circumstances. Despite this warning, a mystical-sound allegory continues to be heard in Crucifixus. I mean. What is there, beyond all doubt, is whispered, whispered: pianos and pianisimos galore. The audience liked it very much.
Claudio Prieto an his Concierto I, awarded with the "Golden Harp"
By Fernando López y Lerdo de Tejada
(Review published en el newspaper "El Alcázar". Madrid, february 8th 1979)
A new final of the Musical Composition Contest has been held at the Royal Theater of our city, sponsored by the Spanish Confederation of Savings Banks, which has entered its fifth edition and to which four works corresponding to José García Román, Juan Guinjoan, José Luis Turina and Claudio Prieto had arrived, according to the order of execution of the program: then, the prize would be awarded in a very different way: thus, to the last mentioned, 400,000 pesetas and the "Golden Harp" trophy would correspond for his work Concert I, the second prize to the one mentioned in the first place, who obtained 150,000 pesetas and the "Silver Harp" trophy awarded to the score Eloquences; there were also two separate third prizes of 50,000 pesetas that corresponded to the works Gic 1979, by Juan Guinjoan and Crucifixus, by José Luis Turina (grandson of the famous Sevillian composer of the same surname), awards that were granted by the final jury, chaired by Enrique Franco and acting as vocals: Miguel Alonso, Carmelo A. Bernaola, Luis de Pablo (composers) and Antonio Ros Marbá, director of the National Orchestra of Spain; These works had been selected by a jury chaired by maestro Alonso Bernaola, along with his colleagues Encinar, Estévez, the pianist Manuel Carra and the conductor Franco Gil.
The works were presented in a public concert that took place in the aforementioned coliseum in the Plaza de Oriente and which was attended by a large number of people invited by the sponsoring entity of the contest, corresponding the delivery of awards to the general directors of Music and of the Spanish Confederation Savings Banks, respectively. The audience received the decision with their best applause, respect and education, but then, at the end of the session, they expressed their points of view, very far from the result that had occurred in the room: for the critic there is also disparity of opinions , although it abides by the decision of the jury, which is final, but there were compositions with undoubted merit that should have been nominated, before any of the winners; In addition, among the members of the jury there were judges and part, at the same time, who should not accept the qualification of the works and in case of abstaining the "quorum" was broken and the final should have been declared void due to lack of "consensus". For the critic, the first prize has no discussion, but the second is more debatable and he believes that those of Guinjoan and Turina had greater qualities and merits to win the "Silver Harp" trophy. At least, that is my personal criterion, which seems to coincide with some other fellow critics and certain composers, reaching a "consensus" contrary to that determined by the final jury.
[…] Crucifixus takes place in the midst of a "climax" of great beauty, its development is very coherent, the author dominates the orchestral palette and takes advantage of all the possibilities that it allows him and has undoubted merits, due to the balance that his layout shows . […]