Pittaluga González del Campillo, Gustavo

Gustavo-Pittaluga_1

Composer, orchestra conductor, essayist and renovator of classical music at the head of the so-called Group of Eight, Group of Madrid or Group of the Republic; he was linked to the Generation of ‘27. He was born in Madrid on February 8, 1906, and died in October 1975 in the capital of Spain after a long exile in Mexico. His music was influenced by Manuel de Falla and he collaborated, among others, with García Lorca and Luis Buñuel.

Pittaluga was the son of a famous Italian doctor (Gustavo Pittaluga Fattorini) who settled in Madrid at the beginning of the 20th century and became a Spanish citizen. He studied law and music under the tutelage of Óscar Esplá.

On November 29, 1930, he was in charge of reading in public at the Residencia de Estudiantes (Students’ Residence) the founding manifesto of what was then called Group of the Republic, made up of composers Ernesto and Rodolfo Halffter, Julián Bautista, Salvador Bacarisse, Fernando Remacha, Rosa García Ascot and Juan José Mantecón. The ideologist of the Spanish musical renovation movement, which began during the Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, was the composer and critic Adolfo Salazar, who sponsored the Group of Eight and the Catalan Group of Six, to which Eduardo Toldrá and Federico Mompou belonged.

As a composer, the stage most praised by critics is the one before the Civil War where he signed pieces such as the ‘Petite suite’ for chamber orchestras, the ballet The Pilgrimage of the Cuckolds’ based on an idea by García Lorca and the ‘Six Dances en Suite’ for piano.

Pittaluga and his fellow generation were responsible for liquidating the remnants of nationalism that burdened Spanish composition and continuing the path of renewal opened by Manuel de Falla in the Concerto, Master Peter’s Puppet Show and the Nights in the Gardens of Spain.

From left to right: Julián Bautista, Rodolfo Halffter, Gustavo Pittaluga, Fernando Remacha and Salvador Bacarisse, in a photo taken at Unión Radio.
From left to right: Julián Bautista, Rodolfo Halffter, Gustavo Pittaluga, Fernando Remacha and Salvador Bacarisse, in a photo taken at Unión Radio.

On November 9, 1933, he premiered in Madrid the ballet The Pilgrimage of the Cuckolds, based on an oral argument of Federico García Lorca and inspired by the The Pilgrimage of the Christ of the ClOth of Moclín(Granada). The pilgrimage also served Lorca as an inspiration for the last act of Yerma. The composer Xavier Montsalvage (1912-2002) praised the work, although he lamented the excessive influence of Falla, which, however, is mitigated by the sarcastic tone of the libretto.

The Civil War surprised Pittaluga in Paris, where he was organizing a series of concerts of Spanish music. Once in Spain, the Republic entrusted him with various diplomatic missions that took him to Mexico where he settled in 1948 until his return in 1966.

As a composer, the stage most praised by critics is the one before the Civil War where he signed pieces such as the Petite suite for chamber orchestras, the aforementioned ballet based on an idea by García Lorca and the Six Dances en suite for piano.

In Mexico his creative energy waned, although in collaboration with Luis Buñuel, he composed the soundtracks for The Young and the Damnded, Mexican Bus Ride and Viridiana. He is also the author of the music for The Dance by Edgar Neville.

He died in Madrid, almost forgotten, in the fall of 1975, a month before the dictator who set him on the road to exile.

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