“My music is the expression of a native Seville resident who didn’t know it until he left it … Maybe it really takes an artist a little distance to get to know their country, just as an artist takes a few steps back to be able to capture the whole picture.” – These words of the Spanish composer Joaquin Turina seem to most accurately express his creative ideology and his approach to his native folklore. Born in 1882 in Seville, in a family of an artist of Italian descent, Turina is the youngest in the group of Spanish composers of the early 20th century (the so-called the “Big Four”, whose senior members were Isaac Albeniz, Manuel de Falla and Enrique Granados) and is considered a continuation of the traditions of the “Renascimento”, the national revival movement in Spain at the end of the 19th century which covers various areas of cultural, political and economic life of the country. His work is imbued with the national spirit; it uses the rhythmic and modal elements of Andalusian folklore, which mimic the techniques of folk music. Turina’s works are characterized by their mastery of rhythmic writing, polymode, rich and original harmony, free melody and harmony of form.
After receiving his early piano and composition training in his hometown, the young musician left for Madrid with an opera score in hand. There the manuscript sank into dust, but Turina managed to put his sarsuela “Fea y con gracia” and although the success of the work was moderate, its composition and the atmosphere of musical life in Madrid ignited in him the spark of nationalism, which only a few years later turns into a flame. In 1905, Turina relocated to Paris where he studied piano with Moritz Moszkowski and composition under d’Indy at the Schola Cantorum. Joining the Parent Quartet in 1907 as pianist and composer, he finally premiered his Piano Quintet Op 1 highly influenced by Cesar Franck and Vincent D’Indy. This turned out to be a turning point in the development of his career, as the concert was attended by Albeniz and De Falla, who were not particularly fascinated by the quintet and advised him to seek material in his native Spanish folk music. Turina took to heart the advice of her friends and decided to “fight bravely for the national music of our country.” In 1913 he returned to Spain and took an active part in the “Spanish battle”, achieving impressive results in works large and small. The latter encompasses the Toreador’s Prayer. Created almost a decade after Turina had returned to Madrid and had become a respected musician in his country, the work clearly demonstrated that the impact of his stay in France was still clearly perceptible. It bears a completely Spanish spirit, but is written in an impressionist style.