The 1st Iturbi Festival welcomes pianists Javier Perianes, Gustavo Díaz-Jerez, Marta Zabaleta and Josu de Solaun

  • This festival, to be held at the Beneficència Culture Centre on September 22-27 with free admission, aims to programme outstanding musicians and showcase José Iturbi in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of his birth

  • The first day of the 1st Iturbi Festival begins tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 22nd at 19:00, with an opening concert featuring ten pianos on Plaza de la Virgen and “ten talented Valencian musicians”

  • Glòria Tello, the Iturbi Prize councillor: “The 1st Iturbi Festival is a transversal project of musical excellence centred on the International Piano Competition”

  • Óscar Oliver, festival co-ordinator: “Iturbi played a pioneering and transcendental role in raising the awareness of Spanish and Valencian music. He was an ambassador for the composers of his era”

Valencia, 21st September 2020

The 1st Iturbi Festival organised by the Valencia Provincial Council begins tomorrow with a series of events and concerts by outstanding musicians and ensembles including Javier Perianes, Cuarteto Quiroga, Gustavo Díaz-Jerez, Marta Zabaleta and Josu de Solaun along with the violinist Franziska Pietsch and Quartetto Indaco with a view to hosting world-class musicians and continuing to showcase the prestige and musical legacy of José Iturbi (Valencia 1895 – Los Angeles 1980) in the years when the biennial International Piano Competition Valencia is not held.

In this festival being held for the first time, at the Beneficència Culture Centre on September 22-27, the Iturbi Prize will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Valencia pianist with different events centred on a festival in addition to the main highlight, the competition (application deadline 31st October) to take place from June 23rd to July 2nd 2021.

An introductory day was held yesterday (Sunday) in the morning and afternoon on five squares in Valencia (Plaza de la Virgen, Plaça dels Furs, Plaza Lope de Vega, Gateway to the Lonja and the bullring esplanade) in partnership with Clemente Pianos to commemorate their 30th anniversary. Piano students and enthusiasts answered the call of social media and came along to play universal piano masterpieces such as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Liszt’s Dante Sonata, Schumann’s Concerto without orchestra and Ravel’s Miroirs, amongst others.

Glòria Tello, the councillor in charge of the Iturbi Prize, head of culture in Valencia City Council and president of the Palau de la Música, explained that “The 1st Iturbi Festival is a transversal project of musical excellence centred on the International Piano Competition”. Tello emphasised that “the Valencia Provincial Council is working with the new artistic director, Joaquín Achúcarro, and the advisory committee with a view to showcasing the Iturbi Prize and consolidating its prestige on the international music scene”.

Ten pianos on the street

The first day of the 1st Iturbi Festival will begin tomorrow, Tuesday Sept. 22nd at 19:00 with an opening concert featuring ten pianos on Plaza de la Virgen played by Miquel Aparisi, Carlos Barbé, Pascual Encarnación, Alejandro Espina, Marta Garijo, Mika Giménez, Ferrán López, José Andrés Romero, Carlos Santo and Jorge Tabarés. The programme consists of Mendelssohn’s overture The Hebrides, the Scherzo from Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, Bernstein’s Mambo and Overture to Candide, Falla’s Danza ritual del fuego (Ritual Fire Dance) and El Amor Brujo (Betwitched Love), and Liszt’s Hungarian Rapsody No. 2.

For the pianist and artistic advisor of the festival, Carles Marín, “ten talented Valencian musicians and prize-winners in different international competitions, will give a recital with scores produced for the occasion by the brilliant pianist and composer Jorge Tabarés. The title of the event is Diez pianos para Iturbi (Ten pianos for Iturbi), a nod to the famous scene in the film Anchors Aweigh featuring the famous pianist alongside a host of young pianists, and his appearance in countless feature films with his sister Amparo”.

Perianes in concert

The critic and musicologist Justo Romero will give a conference, Iturbi, más allá de la pipa y la sonrisa (Iturbi, more than a pipe and a smile) at the Beneficència Culture Centre at 20:30, the time when all the concerts are scheduled. Romero will be followed by Iturbi, pionero del piano en el siglo XX (Iturbe, piano pioneer in the 20th century), a concert by Javier Perianes with pieces by Falla, Albéniz and Debussy.

Perianes, who won the 2012 National Music Prize awarded by Spain’s Ministry of Culture and was named Artist of the Year at the International Classical Music Awards of 2019, will also play on Wednesday 23rd, when the Andalusian artist together with Cuarteto Quiroga will perform Manuel Quiroga and José Iturbi, a programme featuring pieces by Beethoven and Schumann.

Iturbi’s Iberia

On Thursday 24th, Gustavo Díaz-Jerez will play the programme La Iberia de Iturbi (Iturbi’s Iberia) featuring pieces by Antonio Soler and Albéniz and compositions of his own. The award-winning pianist and outstanding composer from the Canary Islands, acclaimed in Spain and worldwide for his performances with prestigious orchestras and conductors, was awarded the Albéniz Medal in 2010 for recording and publicising the Iberia Suite.

The documentary A propósito de Iturbi (About Iturbi) made in 2002, will be presented by its director, Manuel Gil, and screened on Friday 25th. This priceless biographical token of the most universal Valencian pianist gives an insight into his personality and the highlights of his artistic career though interviews with friends, relations and his closest colleagues. It analyses his achievements by talking to leading figures in the musical world who had the chance to know him and follow his successful career.

Zabaleta and De Solaun

The last part of the festival consists of Amparo Iturbi and Granados, a programme in which the pianist Marta Zabaleta from Guipuzcoa will perform Goyescas by the Catalan composer on Saturday 26th. The Valencian pianist Josu de Solaun, the only Spaniard to win the International Piano Competition Valencia (2006) and the George Enescu Piano Competition in Bucharest (2014) amongst other major awards, will play the Iturbi Prize programme together with the German violinist Franziska Pietsch and the Italian ensemble Quartetto Indaco, bringing the festival to a close on Sunday September 27th.

Óscar Oliver, the coordinator of the 1st Iturbi Festival, explained that “José Iturbi played a pioneering and transcendental role in making Spanish and Valencian music known and was an ambassador for the composers of his era”. Oliver emphasised that “his brilliant international career enabled him to raise awareness of compositions by Albéniz, Granados, Falla, Infante, Cassadó and those by the Valencian composers López Chavarri, Rodrigo, Palau and Magenti, firstly in foremost European concert halls and subsequently, in the most important American orchestras of that time.”

Tickets for the concerts in the 1st Iturbi Festival are free (limited numbers) and available at the Beneficència Culture Centre and online at and

La Mostra and the Palau de la Música

The Mostra de València will also contribute to the 125th anniversary with the José Iturbi Series – five Hollywood films featuring the Valencian pianist – to be screened at the Sala SGAE Centre Cultural Valencia on October 26-30 at 18:30. In addition, the Palau de la Música, in conjunction with the Valencia Provincial Council, will stage a recital by Joaquín Achúcarro, the artistic director and president of the Iturbi Prize, at the Teatro Principal on the same day that Iturbi was born (November 28th).

The Iturbi Prize, established in 1981, is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions, Geneva, an association of competitions held in countries across the five continents including the world’s most prestigious international music competitions. The International Piano Competition Valencia is also a member of the Alink-Argerich Foundation whose members include most of the international piano competitions around the globe.


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