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Cover of the Three music books in cipher for vihuela by Alonso Mudarra (1546)

Fantasía sobre una fantasía de Alonso Mudarra / Fantasy on a Fantasy by Alonso Mudarra

For Orquesta

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This work was composed in the spring of 1988 under commission of the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, which, newly formed in its second epoch, wanted to perform in Madrid including in its program the premiere of work commissioned to a Spanish composer. The managers of the orchestra asked me for a brilliant and outstanding work for the orchestra in general, and, above all, for its brass section, of extraordinary quality, in particular. In addition, they wanted the work to somehow recreate the music of the Spanish Renaissance, in the line of a series of works that were composed at that time (Villanesca and Abestiak, by Bernaola -on Francisco Guerrero and Juan de Anchieta, respectively-, Music for an inauguration, by Bertomeu -on Pablo Bruna-, and especially, Tiento de primer tono y Batalla imperial, by Cristóbal Halffter -on Francisco Correa de Arauxo y Juan Bautista Cabanilles-.
I chose the music of a 16th century composer: Alonso de Mudarra. Specifically, I chose what is surely his best-known work: the Fantasía n. 10, for vihuela, which bears the curious subtitle "that counterfeits the harp in the manner of Ludovico". This fantasy contains a series of dissonant notes, called false at the time, which must have sounded extremely strange to its contemporaries, and that is why they make it so suggestive for today's ears, for whom dissonance is something habitual.

First page of the Fantasía n. 10 by Alonso Mudarra

Recording: Hopkinson Smith (lute)

In my Fantasía on that Fantasy, Mudarra's music blends with mine, alternating back and forth in separate sections and, at the same time, imbuing one with the flavor of the other. Thus, in the quotes from Mudarra's Fantasía, the orchestration highlights even more the harshness of the original dissonances, while the language of the sections that frame them is softened by allowing itself to be penetrated by Renaissance sonorities, solidly consonant, with an unmistakable modal flavor.
In this way, the central section is entirely occupied by a modal melody that, widely sung in unison by the entire string section, progresses from the darkest mode, the Phrygian, to the brightest, the Lydian, through a complex contrapuntal network that, starting from the unison, expands in the form of canons until reaching a scope of five octaves.

Main phrase of the middle section of the Fantasía sobre una Fantasía de Alonso Mudarra
(Phrygian mode; in the last measure of the example the repetition is started in Dorian mode)

Final of the middle section of the Fantasía sobre una Fantasía de Alonso Mudarra.
Overlapping in canon on Violins I of the phrase in Mixolydian and Lydian modes

The score, dedicated to my son Guillermo, was premiered in the fall of 1988 by the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Víctor Pablo Pérez. Given its brilliance and its rapid communication with the listener from the first hearing, it is not surprising that it is my most performed orchestral work, having been recorded on CD three times, the last one in 2007 by the Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Aldo Ceccato.

Cover of the CD "Spanish contemporary music" (1991)

Cover of the monographic CD of the Málaga Philharmonic Orchestra (2006)

Cover of the CD Recreation of the Málaga Philharmonic Orchestra (2007)

First page of the Fantasía sobre una Fantasía de Alonso Mudarra


Recording: The National Youth Orchestra of Spain (Cond.: Cristóbal Soler)


Simón Bolívar Venezuelan Youth Symphony Orchestra. Cond.: Alfredo Rugeles

Caracas (Venezuela), Teresa Carreño Theater, April 2008. First Hispanic-Venezuelan Festival

Video RTVE: Spanish Radio Television Symphony Orchestra. Cond.: Cristóbal Soler

Madrid, Teatro Monumental, January 13, 2017


The fashionable orchestra
By Juan Ángel Vela del Campo
(Review published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, October 23, 1989)

Bright, gimmicky and brilliant was the Fantasía sobre una fantasía de Alonso Mudarra, by José Luis Turina, a recreation with current sonorities of one of the works from the Spanish Renaissance viehuelistic repertoire. Composed in April and May 1989, it was the first time it was heard in Madrid.

Canarians are still in the lead
By Víctor Burell
(Review published in the newspaper Cinco Días. Madrid, October 25, 1989)

We could only enjoy the Fantasía sobre una fantasía de Alonso Mudarra, by José Luis Turina, a work that, leaving the field of orchestrations on pieces from antiquity, to which we are accustomed, glosses -creating- the Fantasy n. 10 by the 16th century vihuelist. The languages of the past and modernity come together, empowering each other naturally, until we perceive everything that is current in Mudarra's message. But through a brilliant new form, recognizable qualitatively and quantitatively as the creation of the maker of the gloss. The preparation of the piece by the OST, second to none, led directly to that unusual success for music today.

Another good recital from our symphony
By Alfonso de Terán
(Review published in the Diario de Avisos. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, January 16, 1990)

This would begin with the "Fantasía" by José Luis Turina on a fantasy by Alonso de Mudarra, which, as the author himself says: "its composition was due to a joint commission from the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and the Canary Islands Music Festival". I hope that the author has been satisfied with the version that the orchestra to which it was dedicated makes of it, since it sounded admirably, with sonorous richness, with timbre dissection in the passages of more advanced musical language, with expressiveness and communicability in a work that due to its contemporaneity requires a special treatment.
The fantasy of José Luis Turina, which was already premiered in the first of the concerts of our symphony this season, begins somewhat informally in crescendo to form the first of the themes that the metals take, from then on they appear a series of fragments of the fantasy of the Spanish Renaissance vihuelist, either in the different sections or in the tutti, juxtaposed with current elements. After about nine minutes of duration, the work ends with a brilliant epilogue in which brass and percussion prevail over the orchestral tutti. The work is frankly interesting and is followed perfectly despite its novelty and this in good art due to the good work of our orchestra and the good judgment of Víctor Pablo Pérez in dealing with it. Being a new work, it is somewhat risky to judge the version, but I dare to predict that it was magnificent, with good sound, attractive and if not, the author corrects me.

Shlomo Mintz and the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Víctor Pablo Pérez
By Martín Codax
(Criticism published in the newspaper La Provincia. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, October 25, 1989)

The session went from night to day with José Luis Turina's «Fantasía», commissioned by the Orchestra and the Festival that had its premiere in Madrid and was now presented in the Canary Islands by the same performers. A true alchemist of symphonic magic, Turina builds a frontal clash between Alonso Mudarra's Fantasy n 10 and his own ideas. Starting from the explosion of the great orchestral «cluster», the inspiring theme appears elaborated in the brass «fanfares» or in the massive strings, in the pointillism of woodwinds and percussion or in the «tutti» as a motley visionary translation of a confrontation between the Renaissance ideal and the paroxysmal stridency of our time. Mudarra's notes are not at any time the guiding axis of the piece, but the pretext of a mechanism of collision or compromise in which the intention that could be called «ideological» gives way to the foreground to the exuberance of the palette and the directly acoustic pleasure of a «total ear» applied to chiseling huge reliefs, moving masses, hypersaturated explosions. In just nine minutes, the complete panel of the compulsive contemporary orchestra materializes.
Sure of gesture, absolute master of the flow and volumes, masterfully ordering the movement, Víctor Pablo Pérez enjoyed the display with his musicians and made us enjoy it.

MADRID/OCNE: two Russians and a Spanish fantasy
By Tomás Marco
(Review published in the online magazine Scherzo. Madrid, January 30, 2022)

The use by composers of materials already used by others is a constant in musical history. But modernity has introduced a special conceptual way of doing this, which is what American treatise writers have called borrowing and here it is usually known as 'music about music'. Almost all current composers have practiced it at some point and a milestone in this process is the Tiento and Battle by Cristóbal Halffter. José Luis Turina is an illustrious composer who has played the theme on several occasions and his most notorious attempt is the Fantasy on a Fantasy by Alonso de Mudarra composed in 1989 for the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra. Already Mudarra's original imitates (“countermakes”, as he writes) the theme of the mysterious harpist Ludovico. Turina uses both materials within a structurally very interesting and very own context, and with a sovereign orchestral treatment that is far from being a simple orchestration. Brilliant and sovereignly made work, it is in many aspects worthy of being considered a masterpiece.

Solidity in the OCNE with Shostakovich and Afkham
By Gonzalo Alonso
(Review published in the newspaper La Razón. Madrid, February 2, 2022)

The event opened with "Fantasía sobre una fantasí de Alonso Mudarra", a work by José Luis Turina of about ten minutes.
I heard someone describe this week's OCNE concert as a "programón". It really was. It opened with Fantasy on a fantasy by Alonso Mudarra, a work by José Luis Turina of about ten minutes in which he demonstrates inventiveness in recreating and his ability to orchestrate. It was premiered in 1989 as a commission from the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and the Canary Islands Music Festival in times of the still-missed Rafael Nebot, who wanted a brilliant and outstanding score for the orchestra. Turina fulfilled the task, especially in the brass section with a very large template. Current language with evocations that the public listened to with great pleasure and that Afkhan provided with order and command.

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