The International Universitary Courses Música en Compostela were created in 1958 on the initiative of Maestro Andrés Segovia, together with the Spanish diplomat José Miguel Ruiz Morales, at the time Director General of Cultural Relations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and president of Música en Compostela from its founding until his death in 1974.
Both Andrés Segovia and José Miguel Ruiz Morales believed that Spanish music deserved a more prominent place in concert halls and music conservatories throughout the world.
Together they decided to organize the courses, and the first step was to find a headquarters and later, a name. The Director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Francisco Javier Sánchez Cantón, proposed the city of Santiago de Compostela, and Nena Fabrique de Ruiz Morales coined the expression Música en Compostela.
Since then, every summer, classes are held in Santiago de Compostela, one of the most beautiful cities in northern Spain, with the purpose to inform, interpret and cultivate Spanish music, an ideal that is transmitted, each session, to some 120 students, from twenty-odd nations on average, registered for courses each year.
In 1970, Agustín León Ara was invited by Música en Compostela to give a recital in association with the Course. The following year he was asked to become part of the select group of professors. From that time forward, León Ara has carried out each year this important task as professor until December 2011 when he was named Director of Música en Compostela.
Many professors have taught in the classrooms, from Andrés Segovia himself to other very prestigious names: Oscar Esplá (the first director), Federico Mompou, Joaquín Rodrigo, Antonio Iglesias, who was Director from 1976 until 2011, Alicia de Larrocha, Xavier Montsalvatge, Victoria de los Angeles, Montserrat Caballé (formerly a student), Conchita Badia, Gaspar Cassadó, Rosa Sabater, and, more recently, Carmelo Bernaola and Cristobal Halffter (both ex-students), Luis de Pablo and Antón García Abril. Among the ex-students, Jesús López Cobos, John Williams and Christopher Hodwood are famous examples among many other names.
Today, it’s interesting to note our group of professors and disciplines: Isabel Penagos (Voice), José Luis Rodrigo (Guitar), José López Calo (Musicology), Montserrat Torrent (Organ), Josep Maria Colom (Piano), Carmen Cruz Simó (Polyphony), Antón García Abril and Maximino Zumalave (Symphonic and Modern Music), Enrique Santiago (Viola and Chamber Music), Agustín León Ara (violin), and Asier Polo (cello).
In 1968, Her Majesty Queen Sofía agreed to serve as Honorary President of Música en Compostela. Its Board of Directors was headed first by Margarita Pastor de Jessen, with great dedication, and later by Carlos Romero de Lecea, Xerardo Estévez Fernández, and at present by Gerardo Fernández Albor. The principal sponsors are the University of Santiago, the City Hall and the Council of Galicia. Members of the Board of Directors include Montserrat Caballé, Enrique Jiménez, Cristina Hazen, María Dobarro and Agustín León Ara.
Some of the names mentioned among the professors are members of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. They ennoble and enrich the teaching level of Música en Compostela with their master lessons. Their personal experience and knowledge are vital to accomplishing the initial task set by Musica en Compostela half a century ago: to promote Spanish musical heritage throughout the world.
As a complement to the classroom work, The International Universitary Courses offer activities to its cosmopolitan students such as concerts and conferences, as well as books and music scores published by Música en Compostela. Over the years, these students have become teachers, soloists and musicologists interested in the true artistic expression of Spanish music.
In addition to the study atmosphere and the camaraderie generated in each of the courses held to date, a climate reaching far beyond our borders, we should mention the amplitude of the musical careers of the thousands of students since 1958 who have attended our courses. By interpreting Spanish music abroad, they act as true cultural ambassadors of Spain, Galicia and Santiago de Compostela.
Further information and registration for the International University Course in Spanish Music, www.musicaencompostela.es