Daniel Fortea

Daniel Fortea i Guimerà

1878-1953

Daniel Fortea is the third son of the marriage formed by D. Ramón Fortea Gallén and Ms. Dolores Guimerà Salom .

Don Ramón was a school teacher, that is, the former national teacher, who carried out his pedagogical functions with great vocation and total and absolute dedication, as was customary at the time.

At the same time as he teaches his pupils ( both children and young in the village) he introduces to  the art of sounds, training amateur musicians to join the ranks of the young local music band.

Ramón, the oldest brother, was the director of the latter band, according to Fortea himself in an interview conducted on Radio Madrid.

Daniel Fortea expressed his love for music very early on: it is said that he learned music theory and to play the clarinet, bandurria and guitar. As an adult, he learned to play the piano and the fundamentals of the violin. He studied guitar with the methods of CarcassiNapoleón CosteDionisio Aguado and Fernando Sor. The bandore is studied with the methods and studies of  Baldomero Cateura and Félix de Santos.

Matteo Carcassi

Napoleón Coste

Dionisio Aguado

Fernando Sor

Baldomero Cateura

Félix De Santos

At the age of 20, and during his time as a soldier, he was lucky to meet the one who would be his great teacher and who would set the pattern for him to follow throughout his life: Francisco Tárrega.

Fortea tells us how he met him: “The teacher was spending a few days in Castellón, invited by Dr Forés to his home. At night Tárrega played in the great hall on the ground floor. I would pass by in my soldier’s uniform, and I would listen behind, the door to hear the Master. One night someone who was coming out of the house surprised me there and saw me in my army clothes listening to the guitar being played, he went back in and told them about the soldier at the door listening in. As it was raining heavily, Tárrega told him: if he is a modest soldier, he can enter. He received me with great simplicity and kindness and, from then on, I was a devoted and faithful disciple of his”.

FRIENDSHIP AND ADMIRATION  

Hence his great admiration for the Master and also what turned into a great friendship, as evidenced by the letters received with expresións such as: “My dearest friend and disciple”, “His friend and teacher love him passionately”, “He knows how much his soul friend loves him, He knows how much his teacher loves him” … In 1906, in another letter, he writes: «I keep your little works for you. I know he’s become a virtuous guitarist. I like this. Regards to your good family and you, good friend, a hug from your teacher who loves you deeply.»

Daniel Fortea visited Tárrega regularly between 1898 and 1909, and he received lessons from him and advice in the company of his close friends and colleagues, Miguel Llobet and Emilio Pujol. Not only was this a time for learning from Tárrega but, also a moment where both shared their love for music and other arts and humanitistic interests.

Like Tárrega at that time, Fortea adopted the technique of pressing without nails except on the thumb. Every time Tárrega went to Castellón, Fortea visited him to receive his advice and lessons.

Tárrega always kept a place in the programme to play with his disciple in his last concerts.

The love that Daniel Fortea manifested at all times for Francisco Tárrega was extended to his family, providing all kinds of help and advice; This is shown in some letters  written by Francisco, son of the virtuous guitarist. Some letters refer to the interest expressed by Fortea regarding the state of health of his Master.

Following the example of his Master, Fortea devoted his life to the guitar and to enrich his personality and work; to honour the memory of those who took classes, performing in his concerts the works of the guitarist and living in full admiration of his master.  “Fortea looked like a saint”, Second Pastor told us. He adds deeply touched: “When he fell ill I was warned and, upon arrival, the Master held my hand tightly and wanted to tell me something … words that did not come out of his throat or that were so weak that they were inaudible to me”.

Francisco Tárrega Rizo himself, in an interview made by José del Castillo in «Solidaridad Nacional», dated March 25, 1950, states that the only two followers of Tárrega’s art were Daniel Fortea and Emilio Pujol. He also points out that these two great guitarists have been the only composers to have contributed with their creative genius to the guitar world repertoire with pieces of the highest artistic standard.

From the 1940s on, the appearances of the son of Benlloch are rare and gradually end.

Intimate concert in Valencia. Novella, 1906. Museum of the City. Polo House. Vila-real City Council. From left to right: Tonico Tello, Pascual Roig, José Orellana, Francisco Correll, Baldomero Cateura, Santa Cruz, Manuel Loscos, Francisco Tárrega and Vicente Puchol

EL ESTANCO DE LOSCOS

Fortea attended a musical gathering in Valencia together with the most prestigious guitarists, fans and art lovers of the time. The sessions were held at the tobacco shop of the amateur guitarist Manuel Loscos, near the Turia river, in the Plaza del Príncipe.

This type of gathering was similar to that of Leon Farré’s establishment in Barcelona, ​​where they came to listen to Tárrega. Here, at “El Estanco de Loscos” (the Loscos tobacconist), a child who loved music first went as an expectator and would later become one of the most prestigious pianist of modern times: José Iturbi.

José Iturbi

Mata-Hari

Fortea was asked to play before the famous spy Mata-Hari who, in one of her forays into Spain, was in Madrid in the year 1917.

Mata-Hari, incognito as always, came out  dressed as a man to hide her true identity. This fact became known much later, thanks to an article from 1953, published in a Valencian newspaper.

During all this time, Fortea spent most of his time holding concerts, teaching, composing and enlarging his library.

In 1924 he signed a contract with “Columbia” to record some pieces. It is unknown if this Project was finally carried out since there is no sound document to prove it. With “Regal” he recorded, on three records: “Canción de cuna”, “Maruxiña”, “La viudita”, “Danza de los muñecos de cartón”, “Elegía a Tárrega”, “Capricho Árabe” (Tárrega) and “Danza V” (Granados).

After the death of Tárrega, and already in Madrid, Fortea spent his time giving concerts and composing. He played in Madrid (Athenaeum, Royal Theater, Conservatory, Royal Palace, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Spanish Theater Infanta Isabel etc.). He also played in Barcelona, ​​Valencia and many Spanish locations. In Ávila, at the Coliseo Abulense, Evocation premieres. This concert was attended by the Princess Infanta Isabel. At the end of the recital, the Queen Mother, Mrs. María Cristina de Borbón, commented “Where Fortea is, no orchestra is needed“. This phrase was widely publicized and commented throughout the country.

The King and Queen of Spain themselves, wished to meet and listen to Fortea, and they invited him to the Palace. His most brilliant compositions are from this period, such as: “Improvisación”, “La Paxarina”, Cuentos infantiles”, “Elegía a la muerte de Tárrega”, “Andaluza”, “Soleá” y “Granadina” (Spanish Suite), “Madrigal” and the dances: “Danza de los muñecos de cartón”, “Aquelarre” and “Danza de los gnomos”.

Her Royal Highness, Infanta Isabel, affectionately known as “La Chata”, held Fortea in high regard. When the two of them coincided in a concert or public act, Mrs. Isabel would solicitously greet our artist. It is also said that the King and Queen affectionately called the Master with the diminutive of « Forteita «.

Unfortunatelly, when Fortea was about to be appointed professor of the infantas,  the Republic was established. This was one of many and many occasions in which fate turned its back on such a great musician and person.

April 14, 1931, the day of the proclamation of the Second Republic at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid

“Where Fortea is,
no orchestra is needed”

Dña. María Cristina de Borbón

In 1934 there is an anecdotal event in Fortea’s life: Serafín Ballesteros, who would later have great prestige for his filmmaking studies, was a great fan of the guitar and received regular classes from the Master. Serafín was amazed when he listened to the “Cuentos infantiles” composed by Fortea and thought of ​​creating a small script of a  film. It was titled “Un cuento de Navidad”.

Here, Daniel Fortea is the father of a beautiful girl; they are poor and the commemorative dates of the birth of Jesus arrive; The girl wants some toys that her father can not afford, but he puts the girl to sleep with the best of gifts: the music of his guitar. The film was very short and had a simple story. José Luis Sáenz de Heredia directed the shooting .

By 1936 he was known in Japan  and the japanese guitarist Shun Ogura got in touch with him and later Yasumasa Obara, with whom he exchanged correspondence and music.

After the civil war, Fortea resumed his activity. In March 28, 1940, at the Principal Theater of Castellón, he premiered his latest compositions: “En mi refugio” and “Estoy solo”.

Frame of the film “Un Cuento de Navidad”

A political misunderstanding affected the Master in such a way that he was unjustly detained and imprisoned. And he was sent to the Ocaña prison where he wrote beautiful musical pages, among which the most famous “Balada”, Opus 47, composed on November 12, 1947.

It was a disciple of Fortea who intervened and managed to get him f released; It is about Ramón Roncal Gonzalo who tells: “in one of my visits to Madrid they told me that Fortea was incarcerated. Asking the reason for this, I realized that he had been deceived by certain politicians who, with the excuse of listening to a private concert, performed a clandestine session at his home. The police found out and they were all arrested “.

Fortea died in Castellón on March 5, 1953, as a result of acute circulatory insufficiency, at number 7  Calle de Pelayo.  His death certificate shows he was 75 years old, which means he was born in 1878.

His remains rest in the Castellón cemetery, close to those of Francisco Tárrega. They both make sure each string and sound of the guitar is heard to this day.

Some of the people that Master Fortea surrounded himself with were:

Tomás Bretón (composer and conductor), Ignacio Zuloaga (painter, portrayed Fortea), Julio Moisés (painter, portrayed Fortea), Ramón Gómez de la Serna (writer and journalist), Carmen Soutullo (goddaughter, daughter of the composer Reveriano Soutullo), Ramón Pérez de Ayala (writer and journalist), the luthiers Santos, Esteso, Manuel and José Ramírez, Paco Sanz (famous ventriloquist and guitarist), José Tinoco (director of the Astronomical Observatory of Madrid, author of one of his best known and reproduced photographs) and a long etc.

Daniel Fortea has a large number of articles, reviews, magazine and press pages and also poems dedicated, among others, by Martín Casas, Amelia Nieto de San Antonio and Mª Conchita Pellico Rodríguez.

Among the many students that Fortea had been also: Sainz de la Maza, who studied with him back in 1915; Spain and América Martínez favourite students who participated in recitals with Maestro Fortea from a very young age and who had a family friendship with him. América Martínez obtained the chair of a guitar at the Superior Conservatory of Seville; Alirio Díaz and Rodrigo Riera, newcomers from Venezuela, in their frequent and extensive visits, collaborated in exchanging techniques and repertoires and in auditions organized by Fortea in his studio, thus creating a great friendship between them.

Tombstone of Daniel Fortea in the Castellón Cemetery

Two complementary sides of a great man and artist: elegant, bohemian and austere in his daily life and modest, and uneasy/unconfortable in large crowds.

The real Fortea was found at short distances: talkative, witty, prudent and very polite.

This was Daniel Fortea i Guimerà (1878-1953), one of the greatest Spanish classical guitar composers.

You may find here his work and legacy, in Biblioteca Fortea, founded by himself in 1911.

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