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Francisco Asenjo Barbieri

  • Francisco Asenjo Barbieri © J. Bedmar/Iberfoto

    Francisco Asenjo Barbieri © J. Bedmar/Iberfoto



Music, Zarzuela



Date of birth

Aug 3, 1823

Date of death

Feb 17, 1894

" Composer and musicologist, he is considered the father of the zarzuela. The enormous influence of his prolific body of work has earned him the title of the creator of this genuinely Spanish theatrical and musical genre."

He was born in Madrid in 1823, and was a disciple of Pedro Albéniz, Carnicer, Saldoni and Broca. His first major success was the zarzuela entitled 'Gloria y peluca' (1859), the first of a string of works which would make him a master of the genre. The trilogy formed by 'Jugar con fuego', 'Pan y toros' and 'El barberillo de Lavapiés' is the towering work of the operatic genre known as zarzuela grande. He combined the techniques of Italian opera, and particularly the work of Rossini, with popular and classical Spanish music. He was among those instrumental in establishing the La Zarzuela theatre (1856). He published the 'Cancionero musical de los siglos XV y XVI' (1890), a collection of music from the 15th and 16th centuries containing 459 transcriptions of manuscripts from the library in the Royal Palace. He died in Madrid on February 17, 1894.

Essential works

  • «El Barberillo de Lavapiés». Teatro de la Zarzuela © Ministerio de Cultura

    El Barberillo de Lavapiés

    The vibrant music composed for this zarzuela by the composer and maestro Francisco Asenjo Barbieri combines splendid orchestration with the popular and folk substratum of traditional Madrid.

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  • Work of culture - Generic image

    Escenas de Chamberí

    This collective work in itself constitutes, beyond its own inherent musical value, one of the founding works of the Spanish zarzuela.

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  • Work of culture - Generic image

    Los diamantes de la corona

    One of the first great zarzuelas in Spanish music and one of the best compositions by Francisco Asenjo Barbieri, the conductor and composer from Madrid.

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  • ‘Bread and Bulls’ © EFE

    Bread and Bulls

    One of the emblematic zarzuela operettas in the composer, musicologist and Madrid orchestra conductor Francisco Asenjo Barbieri’s musical production.

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  • ‘Playing with fire: zarzuela in three acts.’ Madrid © Biblioteca Nacional de España

    Playing with fire: zarzuela in three acts

    This piece, the most performed zarzuela in Spain from its premiere until 1860, set out the characteristics of the genre and marked the beginning of the "zarzuela grande" (of more than one act).

    Spanish National Library (Madrid)

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Other highlighted works

  • El barberillo de Lavapiés
  • Escenas de Chamberí
  • Cancionero musical de los siglos XV y XVI
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