In this web, you can find a peculiar "sonorous world" that comes alive with the four Spanish lutes that make up the Aguilar Quartet.

 

To facilitate your visit, we have prepared a navigation menu from which you can access the different thematic aspects: Presentation of the Quartet including a tour of its interesting history, a vision of the composers who have been interested in this set and examples of various programs of concert. We also include sound fragments of some compositions.

 

Almost 100 years of the Aguilar Quartet

 

In 1923, Paco, Ezequiel, Pepe and Elisa, four of Dr. Francisco Aguilar’s six sons, start a Spanish Lute quartet, encouraged by their father. Soon, they receive wide recognition in Europe and America, and composers like Strawinsky, Halffter and Turina write for them. They reach more than two hundred concerts in a single year.

 

As musicologist Jorge de Persia states: “The Aguilar Quartet, in spite of having a brief life, since the Spanish history marked their way leading them to exile because of the Civil War, was an absolutely important experience in the XX century’s musical history”. When in the 40’s the quartet dissolves, Paco on his own, accompanied on the piano by Donato Colacelli, keeps on giving concerts.

 

With the illusion and enthusiasm of continuing this story, many years later, in 1986, Antonio Navarro, Esther Casado, Luis Miguel Lara and Pilar Barón, re-found the Aguilar Quartet. Thanks to Antonio Navarro’s researches for writing his book ‘Plucked String Instruments in Spain’ (“Los instrumentos de púa en España”), the original instruments were recovered, and the Quartet actually uses them.

 

In 1995, at the Centro Cultural del Conde Duque, Madrid, they premiere the work ‘Five Studies’ (“Cinco estudios”), composed and dedicated to them by José Luis Turina. And on account of the 50th Anniversary of Joaquin Turina’s Death they participate, together with José María Gallardo del Rey, in the program ‘The sounds of Spain: the guitar and the Aguilar Quartet’ (“Los sonidos de España: la guitarra y el Cuarteto Aguilar”). At the Conde Duque they also perform in musical cycles like ‘The Aguilar in America’ (“los Aguilar en América”), part of the acts held by Madrid, Ibero-American Capital of Culture, and ‘Dialogs and Tributes’ (“Diálogos y tributos”), relative to the Generation of 1927.

 

They are hired by the Fundación Juan March to give a concert cycle: ‘The Generation of 1927, Joaquín Turina and Music of the XX Century (Igor Strawinsky, Claudio Prieto, Valentín Ruiz and José Luis Turina)’ (The Generation of 1927, Joaquín Turina y la música del siglo XX)”. These performances, as well as the concert held at the Museo Reina Sofía, part of a cycle about XX Century Music, were recorded and broadcasted by Radio Clásica – RNE. As part of the acts for España Nuevo Milenio, they share program at Madrid’s Teatro Real with the Orquesta de Cámara Reina Sofía conducted by Nicolás Chumachenco, with Rodolfo Mederos playing the bandoneon. They open the show with the piece ‘The Bullfighter’s Prayer’ (“La oración del torero”), composed by Joaquin Turina and dedicated to the Aguilar Quartet by the author himself.

 

‘Invitation to a Sound Journey’ (“Invitación a un viaje sonoro”) is a cantata for verse and lute created by Rafael Alberti and Paco Aguilar in 1942. By performing this cantata, together with José Luis Pellicena, they pay homage to Rafael Alberti at the International Festival of Music and Dance of Granada, at the Court of the Myrtles. Also, the Autumn Festival of the Community of Madrid, the Fundación Alberti and, more recently, the Ra del Rey Gallery have been witnesses of this Invitation.

 

The Quarter has collaborated with Olivier Salazar-Ferrer in researching and recovering the film ‘Tararira’, directed by Benjamín Fondane in 1936, and starred by the Aguilar Brothers. As a fruit of this research, they record the original score, written for this film, and used in several exhibitions, memorials and in a program dedicated to it, made by Radio France.

 

Composer Jorge Grundman dedicates them the exclusive version of his quarter ‘Surviving a Son’s Suicide’, released in 2014, and a year later writes for them ‘The Propagation of Faith’ (“La propagación de la fe”).

 

Currently, they collaborate with plastic artist Ángel Aragonés in different projects. They continue their researching task for instruments, strings and plectra, in search of a singular sonority and filling.

 
Reina Sofía - Programa de mano
Fundación Juan March - Programa de mano
Teatro Real - Programa de mano
Fundación Alberti - Programa de mano

Luis Miguel Lara - Laudete

Antonio Navarro

Bandurria

He studied at Madrid Conservatory and took plectrum studies with Roberto Grandío. He was the Conductor of the Plectrum Orchestras “Roberto Grandío” and “Gaspar Sanz”. With the “Grandío” Quartet and poet Rafael Alberti he performed the show “Invitation to a Sound Journey” (“Invitación a un viaje sonoro”). He has collaborated with the Spanish National Orchestra. National Plectrum Award in 1977, Superior Professor for bandurria from the Liceo of Barcelona. He collaborates with luthier Ángel Benito in researching about the sonority of these instruments.

He published in 1993, with musicologist J.J. Rey, the book “Plucked String Instruments in Spain” (“Instrumentos de púa en España”).

Plucked String Instruments in Spain Antonio Navarro Juan Jose Rey
Plucked String Instruments in Spain Antonio Navarro Juan Jose Rey

The bandurria played by him belonged to Ezequiel Aguilar and was built in 1922 by Domingo Esteso.

Pilar Barón - Laúd

Luis Miguel Lara

Laudete

He attended musical studies at Madrid’s Conservatory and Plectrum studies at the Liceo in Barcelona. He was a member of the “Gaspar Sanz” Orchestra and the “Francisco Salinas” Chamber Group.

The laudete belonged to José Aguilar and was built by Domingo Esteso in 1929.

Pilar Barón

Laúd

She did Guitar studies at Madrid’s Conservatory and Lute studies with Antonio Navarro. She was member of the “Francisco Salinas” Chamber Group. She has collaborated as a guitar professor in different Cultural Centres of the Community of Madrid.

The lute was built by Domingo Esteso in 1941.

 

Esther Casado

Laudón

She studied at Madrid’s Conservatory. She was a Roberto Grandío’s Disciple. She was part of the “Roberto Grandío” Orchestra and the “Grandío” Quartet, also performing with poet fro Cadiz, Rafael Alberti. She rediscovered the use of the laudón in Spain.

 

The instrument that she plays is Paco Aguilar’s original. Dates from 1928 and was built by Domingo Esteso.

The instruments used by the Aguilar Quartet have a peculiar characteristic, all have been constructed by the same luthier.

 

This objective was initiated by the brothers Aguilar, with the order to Domingo Esteso of a bandurria, laud, laudón and laudete. After the loss of the lute of Elisa Aguilar, we have recently incorporated another laud of this same luthier.

 

The instrumental homogeneity along with the use of nylon in the string, has contributed in an important way to obtain a greater filling and singular sound.

It has printed label of the constructor: Built for Don Ezequiel G. Aguilar Peñaranda. Year of 1922.

 

History: It was commissioned by Ezequiel (Cuarteto Aguilar) to Domingo Esteso. Similar to others of the same constructor. A singularity is the head where the bevel cut is appreciated. The instrument was strung with gut strings in the 1st and 2nd.

 

Restoration and maintenance carried out by the luthier Ángel Benito.

 

Measures: L 61 A 27.5

Perimeter of the harmonic cap: piriform, at 29.5 b 27.5

Hoops: to heel 7,8 at the head 8.2

Slightly curved bottom and flat head

Strings: strung silver or bronze nylon and monofilament carbon; Six double orders; Shot 27.1

Frets: 13-18. Enrase in the 7th fret.

Bridge: fixed

 

Materials: Pine spruce top; Background and rings of rosewood; Cedar handle; Ebony fingerboard, alpaca frets and peg with silver plated replica of the original. Bone-plastic screws. Bridge decorated with bone and ends of mother-of-pearl.

 

Other information: Mosaic in the oval mouth. On smooth hoops in the union of bottom and hoops. Cord with plaque to tie the ropes.

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It has printed label of the constructor: Year 1929

 

History: José González Aguilar (Cuarteto Aguilar) commissioned Domingo Esteso. The instrument was strung with gut strings in the 1st and 2nd. Laudete was a creation of the Aguilar Quartet in order to add a new timbre to it. In contralto register they replaced the bandurria 2ª by this laudete. No other such instrument is known.

 

Measures: L 74 A 29.4

Perimeter of the harmonic cap: piriform, at 32.8 b 29.4

Hoops: to heel 8 to the stock 8,8

Slightly curved bottom and flat head

Strings: strung silver or bronze nylon and monofilament carbon; Six double orders; Shot 36.6

Frets: 18-20. Enrase in the 12th fret.

Bridge: fixed

 

Materials: Pine spruce top; Background and rings of rosewood; Cedar handle; Ebony fingerboard, alpaca frets and damask-plated harness (not original). Bone-plastic screws. Original bridge that preserves the notches to accommodate a mute.

 

Other information: Mosaic in the oval mouth. On smooth hoops in the union of bottom and hoops. Cord with plaque to tie the ropes.

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Has printed label of builder: Year 1941

 

History: Its original membership is unknown. It could be started by Domingo Esteso and finished by his nephews. This assumption has been corroborated with the luthier Felipe Conde.

 

It was restored by the luthier Alejandro Fuentes of Madrid in the year 2014 to be integrated in the Quartet.

 

Measures: L 85.5 to 31

Perimeter of the top: piriform, at 37.5 b 31

Hoops: to heel 8,4 to the stock 8,7

Slightly curved bottom and flat head

Strings: strung silver or bronze nylon and monofilament carbon; Six double orders; Shot 50

Frets: 19. Fill in the 12th fret.

Bridge: fixed

 

Materials: Pine spruce top; Background and rings of rosewood; Cedar handle; Ebony fretboard, alpaca frets and metallic color headstock. Metal screws. Original bridge.

 

Other information: Mosaic in the oval mouth. On smooth hoops in the union of bottom and hoops. Rope with cylindrical bar to tie the ropes.

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It has printed label of the constructor: Laudón creation of the Aguilar Quartet. The owner Paco Aguilar. The builder Domingo Esteso.

 

History: There is a second label that says "I am of jacaranda wood and my name is Juan Sebastian" (in honor of Bach). This instrument is the second Laudón that had Paco Aguilar. The first was called "Fray Laudamus". It surely projected a change of tuning and the search for another more serious color. Then he did not have to convince the result. The disappearance of the quartet causes Paco to look for a solo opportunity to achieve a duet of Laudón and Piano with Oscar Donato Colacelli. For this he knows that he has to expand and facilitate access to sharper records for his solo role next to the piano. Which leads him to reform the Laudon by adding a string in the high register (a fourth more). Having only 12 pegs to accommodate the 7 orders led him to leave the 7th and 1st singles. The nut was modified accordingly in the change. From this transformation is recorded in a third label that says "I was reformed in the likeness of my companion Laudamus at home Gavatelli in July 1945 by Santos Zuchelli." Upon returning to Spain, he was again restored by the Madrid luthier Ángel Benito (his doctor) who is currently performing his maintenance.

The instrument appears photographed in several books. The most famous photo is the one that appears Paco Aguilar teaching the Laudón to Manuel de Falla in Altagracia (Argentina).

 

Measures: L 97.5 to 41

Perimeter of the top: piriform, a 51 b 41

Hoops: to heel 9,2 to the butt 10,2.

Slightly curved bottom and flat head.

Strings: silver strung nylon, and nylon wound with nylon; Seven orders, the first and the seventh simple and the rest double; Shot 53.

Frets: 15-17. Enrase in the 8th fret.

Bridge: fixed. The bridge bone is raised in the form of a battlement at the height of the 7th string. It also has two wooden nails on each side.

 

Materials: Pine spruce top; Background and rings of rosewood in the jacaranda variety; Cedar handle; Ebony fingerboard, alpaca frets and metallic colored mechanical peg. This pin is composed of two with three pins each. Bone screws. Original bridge that preserves the notches for housing the mute.

 

Other information: Mosaic in the oval mouth. On hoops in the union of bottom and hoops. Wooden gutter. Cord that projects a support, on the cover under the bridge, with end in rectangular bar to tie the ropes. The main label is personalized and has the shield of the surname "Aguilar" engraved. 

Aguilar Quartet - Spanish Lutes

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