Juan Urteaga Loidi

Organist and composer, born in Balmaseda (Biscay) in 1914 and died in San Sebastian on January the 3rd, 1990.

Influenced by his father, Luis Urteaga Iturrioz, he left for Paris in 1934 where he studied organ with M. Dupre. Encouraged by the revival of choral activity which happened around that time, he founded the Schola Cantorum in San Sebastian in 1940, after his initiative of creating choirs which sang at masses in Santa Maria was met with such great acclaim.

His activities in the field of choral music were not limited to conducting, since he continued furthering his studies of musical works and the preparation of repertoires, thus achieving great conducting skills, not just “a capella” but also with orchestras and soloists. He therefore became conductor of the Easo and Donosti Ereski Choirs and from 1955-1957 of the National Choir of the Dominican Republic.

He also dedicated himself to perfecting his numerous arrangements of basque songs and motets, these and his masses in basque as well as his Mass of Basque Corsairs, being his most important works in this area.

This task was completed in colaboration with the Gipuzcoan diocesis and the church of San Juan de Luz. On the other hand, Urteaga’s musical work as an organist was also significant.

In 1940 he was made organist of Santa Maria. Since then, his accompaniments of Gregorian and religious choral chants have stood out, as well as his offertories which were seen as a novelty during the most important masses of this church.  He also worked as an organist during the time in which he lived in San Juan de Luz.

He also stood out for his musical pedagogy since attending the San Sebastian Conservatoire. He was active as a musical critic in “Deia”. His links with Iparralde were kept in place until very recently, due to his collaboration in the summer music days and his continual presence in the Belloc monastery, working in the Gregorian music archives.

In 1977 he received the Medal of the town of Saint Jean de Luz. All these characteristics make the figure of Urteaga a key personality in our country’s musical history. His work has meant a huge advance in the field of religious music, to which he dedicated his whole life.

On April the 2nd, 1989, a tribute was paid to this great Donostian musician. The choirs which he conducted, Donosti Ereski and Easo, took part as well as the choir which he founded, Schola. The ceremony took place in the Victoria Eugenia Theatre with Urteaga himself attending and being celebrated and remembered by various musical and official organizations.