Viola part from Spanish National Anthem (Marcha Real) for String Orchestra

Manuel de Espinosa de los Monteros (1730-1810) Harmonised & arranged by Keith Terrett
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page one of the Viola part from Spanish National Anthem (Marcha Real) for String Orchestra

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An arrangement of the Spanish National Anthem arranged for String Orchestra.

The Marcha Real (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmartʃa reˈal], "Royal March") is the national anthem of Spain. It is one of only four national anthems (along with those of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and San Marino) in the world to have no official lyrics.

One of the oldest in the world, the anthem was first printed in a document dated 1761 and entitled Libro de la Ordenanza de los Toques de Pífanos y Tambores que se tocan nuevamente en la Ynfantª Española (Book of the Ordenance of Newly Played Military Drum and Fife Calls by The Spanish Infantry), by Manuel de Espinosa. Here it is entitled La Marcha Granadera ("March of the Grenadiers"). According to this document, Manuel de Espinosa de los Monteros is the composer.

There is a false belief that Marcha Real’s author was Frederick II of Prussia, a great lover of music. This belief started in 1861 when it appears for the first time published in La España militar (The Military Spain). In 1864, the colonel Antonio Vallecillo publishes the history in the diary El Espíritu Público (The Public Spirit), making the supposed Prussian origin of Marcha Real popular. According to Vallecillo, the anthem was a gift from Frederick II to the soldier Juan Martín Álvarez de Sotomayor, who was serving in the Prussian Court to learn the military tactics developed by Frederick II’s army, under orders of King Charles III. In 1868 the history is published in Los Sucesos, changing the destinatary of the gift with Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Count of Aranda. The myth was picked up like this in different publications of 1884 and 1903, until being included in 1908 in the Enciclopedia Espasa.

According to the tradition in 1770, Charles III declared the Marcha de Granaderos as the official Honor March, and with that formalized the habit of playing it in public and solemn acts. It became the official anthem during Isabel II’s reign.

After the 1868 Revolution, General Prim convoked a national contest to create an official anthem, but it was declared deserted, advising the jury that Marcha de Granaderos was considered as such. By Alfonso XIII’s time, it was established by a Royal Circular Order (27 August 1908) that interpreted the harmonization of the march done by Bartolomé Pérez Casas, Major Music of the Royal Corps of Halberdier Guards. During the Second Republic, Himno de Riego was adopted as official anthem, although after the Spanish Civil War, Marcha Real returned to be used as anthem, sometimes sung with the verses written by the poet José María Pemán in 1928.

The actual symphonic version of the Marcha Real that replaces the Pérez Casas one, belongs to maestro Francisco Grau and is the official one after the Royal Decree of 10 October 1997, when the Kingdom of Spain bought the author rights of the Marcha Real, then belonging to Pérez Casas’ Heirs. According to the Royal Decree 1560/1997, the anthem should have a tone of B major and a tempo of 76 bpm (♩=76), with a form of AABB and a duration of 52 seconds.

Under the Trienio Liberal (1820–1823), the First Spanish Republic (1873–74) (when it enjoyed of a co-officiality) and the Second Spanish Republic (1931–1939), El Himno de Riego replaced La Marcha Real as the national anthem of Spain. At the conclusion of the Civil War, however, Francisco Franco restored La Marcha Real as the country’s national anthem, under its old title of La Marcha Granadera.

The current official version, as described in Royal Decree 1560/1997, is a sixteen-bar long phrase, divided in two sections, each one is made up of four repeated bars (AABB form). Tempo is set to ♩= 76 and key to B flat.

The long, complete version is the honors music for the King, while a shorter version without the repetitions is performed for the Princess of Asturias, the President of the Government of Spain, or during sporting events.

There are also three official arrangements: one for orchestra, another for military band, and a third for organ, written by Francisco Grau Vegara and requested by the Government of Spain. All in all, there are six different official adaptations, for each arrangement and length. They all were recorded by the Spanish National Orchestra and the Spanish Royal Guard Band as an official recording and released on compact disc for a limited period of time.

As the harmonization of the Marcha Real was written by Bartolomé Pérez Casas in the early 1900s, the copyright has not yet expired. The government bought it from Pérez Casas’ estate in 1997 for 130,000,000 pesetas (~ € 781,316) to avoid future legal problems. Until it expires, the copyright belongs to the Ministry of Culture and collecting societies charge copyright fees, which has led to criticism.

As a result, many different harmonisations have been devised by performers to avoid paying. Nonetheless, the rights to the 1997 Francisco Grau revision were transferred to the government at no charge, although they were not placed in the public domain.

Though the Marcha Real has no lyrics, words have been written and used for it in the past. One version was used during Alfonso XIII’s reign and another during General Franco’s dictatorship; however, none of them were ever made official. The national anthem has been played without words since 1978, when the lyrics that had been approved by General Francisco Franco were abandoned.

After witnessing a rendition of "You’ll Never Walk Alone" at Anfield in 2007, the President of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, said he felt inspired to seek lyrics to La Marcha Real ahead of Madrid’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.[8][9][10] A number of the autonomous communities of Spain have their own anthems. An open competition for the lyrics resulted in 7,000 entries.

Manuel de Espinosa de los Monteros (1730-1810) Harmonised & arranged by Keith Terrett
2 minutes
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