Francesc Casanovas
(Barcelona, 1899- Múrcia, 1986)

He completed his first studies at the Conservatori del Liceu de Barcelona and at the Escola Municipal. He studied harmony and composition with Joan Lamote de Grignon and Enric Morera and he specialized in studying the flute with Professor Vila. At the age of fifteen he made his debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu with violinist Eduard Toldrà and harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, with the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, by Johann Sebastian Bach. In 1918 he debuted with the Orquesta del Gran Teatre del Liceu at the Palau de la Música. In 1919 he joined the Pau Casals Orchestra as a soloist, after being personally heard by the cellist himself. With this orchestra, Casanovas performed, among other places, at the Champs Elysées Theater in Paris.

In 1925 he was requested by Eduardo Granados, son of the famous composer Enrique Granados, to perform with the clarinet the famous solo from the beginning of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue; It was the first interpretation of this work in Spain. Around 1930 he traveled to India for the first time, to do a concert tour with his jazz orchestra. Shortly afterwards he was appointed director of the Calcutta Music Conservatory. His long period in India would last twenty-two years. There he made friends with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, with the Mountbatten family (India's last English viceroy), with Pandit Nehru (Indian Prime Minister) and with Mohandas Gandhi. But, perhaps, with whom he had a closer friendship was with Mehli Mehta (father of the conductor Zubin Mehta, of whom he was a music teacher), who had founded the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, of which he was its conductor and concertmaster. The fruitful musical collaboration with Mehli Mehta culminated in 1952 with the concert tour that the violinist Yehudi Menuhin offered around the country with the Bombay and Calcutta orchestras conducted by Casanovas himself. He also collaborated in India with the Nobel Prize for Literature Rabindranath Tagore with whom he created the Indian Anthem. In 1948 he obtained the First Prize and Gold Button for saxophone (an instrument he had learned self-taught in Paris) in the International Interpretation Competition organized by the Columbia House in New York for his work Guajiras for saxophone and piano. He became the conductor of the New York Jazz Symphony Orchestra.

Casanovas left India permanently in 1956 and settled in England. In 1959 he returned to Barcelona, ??where he was invited to conduct the best orchestras in the city. Between 1959 and 1967 he lived in Amposta where he conducted the music band and the La Lira Ampostina Musical Society. Between 1967 and 1969, he was conductor of the music band and the academy of the Unión Musical de Llíria. On December 5, 1969, the entity imposed his gold insignia "for his extraordinary work". In 1970 he arrived in Torrevieja where he took over the position of conductor of the Union Musical Torrevejense and its musical academy. For more than twelve years he trained a generation of musicians, many of whom currently hold prominent positions on the national music scene.

The catalog of Francisco Casanovas' works includes a Symphony, several symphonic poems, a lost flute concerto, works for wind quintet, a piece for guitar dedicated to Narciso Yepes, various pieces for saxophone and piano, and works for band.


Interview realized by Emilio Sánchez Campillo in 1970


Guajiras for saxophone and piano