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Cover of an edition of Francisco de Quevedo's works
(Antwerp, 1699)

Túmulo de la mariposa / The butterfly's tomb

a) For Clarinet/Bass clarinet, Cello and Piano
b) For Clarinet/Bass clarinet, Viola and Piano

Recording and Video
Download score


This work is a consequence of the fever that afflicted our country during the autumn-winter of 1991, in the collective delirium that led to the preparation of the festivities for the Universal Exhibition held in Seville during 1992. The Community of Madrid undertook, for its pavilion, a double undertaking related to contemporary music, whose coordination was entrusted to José Ramón Encinar: on the one hand, the publication of a study entitled "Música en Madrid", happily carried out, which closed with an extensive chapter, prepared by José Luis García del Busto, and dedicated to the composers who developped their work in Madrid, and a commemorative album, including works composed for the occasion by half a dozen composers also related to Madrid, among whom he had the honor to be included. The works were composed, but unfortunately the substitution of the politician in charge when the company was still in progress ruined the second project: apparently, the album in question was going to get few votes, and it was preferred to invest the budget -what that remained, after paying (yes) religiously the orders- in projects that reported more political benefits. The works composed were forced to follow its independent course, different from the one for which they had been conceived. Given the unusual nature of the template used (clarinet, cello and piano), and in the disheartened certainty that it was born dead for that reason –which fortunately has not happened–, I decided to use a large part of the material used as the basis for a later work: specifically, the last of my Three Sonnets, composed on commission of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, also based on Quevedo's poetry (the sonnet The brevity of what is lived is represented, and how nothing seems that was lived), and premiered at the Colgate Memorial Chapel in September 1992, a few months before the premiere of this work.
The idea of this Túmulo de la mariposa arises from the reading of the poem of the same title by Francisco de Quevedo, the first of his "Lyrical Poems":

Yace pintado amante,
de amores de la luz, muerta de amores,
mariposa elegante,
que vistió rosas y voló con flores,
y codicioso el fuego de sus galas
ardió dos primaveras en sus alas.

El aliño del prado
y la curiosidad de primavera
aquí se han acabado,
y el galán breve de la cuarta esfera,
que, con dudoso y divertido vuelo,
las lumbres quiso amartelar del cielo.

Clementes hospedaron
a duras salamandras llamas vivas;
su vida perdonaron,
y fueron rigurosas, como esquivas,
con el galán idólatra que quiso
morir como Faetón, siendo Narciso.

No renacer hermosa,
parto de la ceniza y de la muerte,
como fénix gloriosa,
que su linaje entre las llamas vierte,
quien no sabe de amor y de terneza
lo llamará desdicha, y es fineza.

Su tumba fue su amada;
hermosa, sí, pero temprana y breve;
ciega y enamorada,
mucho al amor y poco al tiempo debe;
y pues en sus amores se deshace,
escríbase: Aquí goza, donde yace.

Here lies a painted lover,
who died of love, love of light,
elegant butterfly who
adorned roses, flew with flowers;
jealous of its revels,
fire ignited twice April’s ardor in its wings.

Here meet their end,
the meadow’s jewel,
the marvel of springtime,
the fourth sphere’s fleeting beau,
who with cautious, coy flight,
tried to woo torches in the sky.

Hospitable, living flames,
home to stoic salamanders,
spared their lives,
were aloof but severe
with that idolatrous beau, a Narcissus
who strove to die like Phaeton.

Not to be a reborn beauty,
but to spring from death and ash,
like the glorious Phoenix
whose line is forged in flames.
He who knows no love or tenderness
will call it woe, but it is bliss.

Its tomb was its beloved;
lovely, yes, but fl eetingly so;
blind and enamored,
much to love it owes, little to time;
and because it was by loving undone,
engrave: it lies in bliss where it died.

(Translated by Christopher Johnson)

The suggestive image, so full of contrasts, already synthesized in the very title of the poem, of the insect -all colorful- that finds its death when trapped by the flame of a candle, serves, in this case, as the basis for a work strictly musical in which, despite this, the main elements of the poem are symbolically described: the alternation between the gloomy and the dismal, on the one hand, and the light and almost inconsequential, make up a piece composed of a single movement, in which it runs responsibility of the different sections to assume the most significant features of the character of said elements.
Consequently, in the Túmulo de la mariposa vertiginous changes from dramatic sections to others with a marked scherzante character abound, all of this coupled with an enormously virtuosic instrumental writing, in which the conventional treatment is also alternated with numerous passages in which exploit current timbre resources (such as the direct percussion of the piano strings with the hands and with a drumstick, or the drumming with the fingers and knuckles on the cello resonant box), which configures a piece of enormous difficulty, both in what refers to each individual part, as well as to the work as a whole, hindered -or facilitated, depending on how you look at it- due to the absence of measure indicators and dividing lines in all those passages of a lively nature, whose ultimate speed must be based on the possibilities of each of the performers.
The Túmulo de la mariposa, for clarinet-bass clarinet, cello and piano, was composed in Madrid in December 1991. The score is dedicated to José Ramón Encinar, and was premiered by the Manon Group in Paris in March 1993.

The Manon Ensemble, ca. 1993

In 2018 I made a version for clarinet, viola and piano. And in 2013 the Túmulo de la mariposa was included in the CD José Luis Turina. Chamber Music (CD VRS 2131), published in the BBVA Foundation's collection Spanish and Latin American Composers of Current Music, performed by Carmen Domínguez (clarinet), David Apellániz (cello) and Alberto Rosado (piano), members of the Plural Ensemble.

Cover of the CD by Plural Ensemble (2013)

Recording and Video

Recording: Plural Ensemble (Cond.: Fabián Panisello)

Video of the concert held on october 15th, 2023, at the Green Hall of Madrid's Canal Theaters, within the COMA'23 Festival of the Madrid's Composers Association (AMCC)

The butterfly's tomb Performers: Bayona Ensemble (Azra Ramic, clarinet; Camille
Sublet, piano; Eros Jaca, cello)

Youtube link

First page of the Túmulo de la mariposa

Download pdfs

(Scores and parts without watermarks available at www.asesores-musicales.com )

Score of the Túmulo de la mariposa (original version for clarinet, cello and piano)

Score of the Túmulo de la mariposa (versión clarinet, viola and piano)