A.Song.A.Day – Asturias

albenizAfter a long break we return with the next song of this series. And this time it is a musical piece that you will invariably encounter if you are an aspiring classical guitarist. The piece is called Asturias (subtitled Leyenda) and was composed by the prodigious Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz some time in the early 1890s. The piece is today the fifth movement of Albeniz’s Suite española, op. 47, though when composed it was the prelude piece of his then work titled Chants d’ Espagne, op. 232. It was German publisher Hofmeister who gave it the name Asturias. If you were to listen to the guitar version of the song (which incidentally you can by scrolling down) you would find it hard to believe that Asturias was actually written for piano. For that matter many of Albeniz’s compositions were transcribed from piano to guitar, most notable composer of such works being Francisco Tarrega, whose guitar transcriptions once Albeniz himself declared to be preferrable to him over his own piano originals. But the first successful guitar arrangement of Asturias was not done by Tarrega, instead by Andres Segovia, whose edition was subsequently taken as the primary source by most guitarists for their performances.

Asturias has made numerous appearances in popular culture. The most notable one is of course Spanish Caravan by The Doors which features the main theme of the piece. The main theme has also been adapted by Iron Maiden in a quintessential Maiden-esque way in the song To Tame a Land (the part after 4:09). In fact, the charm of Asturias lies in that Spanish main theme portion which will have you hooked to the song once you start listening to it. And the effect is best captured on the guitar, as you would perceive in the videos below. Enjoy!

Asturias played by John Williams

Asturias performed by Ana Vidovic

Piano version by Pablo Galdo

Spanish Caravans by The Doors

To Tame a Land by Iron Maiden

Isabelle Morretti doing Asturias on the harp

The band Barrage doing a violin cover of Asturias