Jose Olaizola Gabarain was born in Hernani on the 27th of January, 1883. His first studies of voice, harmony, piano and organ were completed in his hometown with the organist and director of the Music Academy, D. Manuel Cendoya.
In 1899 he received a scholarship from the County Council of Gipuzkoa to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in San Sebastian. Named organist of the Donstian Church of San Pedro del Muelle, he stood in for the maestro Santesteban (Jose Antonio) on the Cavaille-Coll organ in the parish of Santa Maria and when the maestro passed away, he won the afore mentioned title of resident organist in a public competition.
On the 11th of October, 1906, he was appointed by the Bishop of Vitoria, Monsignor Cadena Eleta, being the parish priest of the cited Church Matriz D. Isidro Bengoechea. He was the founder along with a group of artists of the famous “Saski-Naski”, a musical show of Basque dances and plays, that triumphed in the Theatre of the Elypsean fields in Paris.
It was presented in San Sebastian in 1928, created from an idea born at the heart of the organizing committee of Basque Week. From his post as organist of the Church of Santa Maria, in which he remained resident up until his death on the 8th June, 1969, and with a forced absence of leave due to the civil war and its subsequent consequences, he developed a large production of sacred musical works, starting with “Assumpta est Maria”, for choir, orchestra and organ which was performed for the first time on the 14th of August, 1907 by the Donostian Choral Society under the direction of Secundino Esnaola. He also composed various masses, innumerable motets and other compositions, some in Gregorian style, which all make up an interesting collection of more than a hundred scores for public worship.
Up until 1936 he combined his activities as organist and composer with the important work of teaching, giving classes in voice, harmony, piano and organ. Distinguished musicians passed through his classroom: Aramburu, Sorozabal, Cabanas, Zapirain and Jorda were some of these. In the middle of all this, and without abandoning his musical tasks, his spent his years in exile near Burdeos, maintaining continual and very important contacts with musical personalities in France.
He usually made up part of the board of examiners of the final exams of the Burdeos National Conservatoire of Music.
In his final works, one can clearly see the influence of this phase of his life. He had close and good friendships with most of his musical contempories, Usandizaga, Larrocha, Santesteban, Pagola, Guridi, Otaño, Echeveste, Dupré, Marchal, Ravel, P. Donostia, Gabiola, Sorozábal, Valdés, Esnaola, Urteaga, Almandoz, Bela Bartok, Escudero, Jordá, Zabaleta, Figuerido, etc. He was organist of Santa Maria until the year of his death in 1969.