AGUIRRE LIZAOLA – Zortziko a Bilbao – ‘La del Pañuelo Rojo’ – Popular Basque Song – for Duo of TWO Violoncellos


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Avelino  AGUIRRE  LIZAOLA – Zortziko a Bilbao – ‘La del Pañuelo Rojo’ – Popular Basque Song – Prepared as a concert piece by David Johnstone for Duo of TWO Violoncellos


PDF 1 – Playing Score (both cellos together)



Zortzico a Bilbao, better known as “La del Pañuelo Rojo” (in English, roughly ‘that of the Red Scarf’), is a composition by Avelino Aguirre Lizaola (born in Bilbao, Basque Country in 1838 – died in Mendoza, Argentina, 1901) made for voice and piano around 1864, with lyrics by Mario Halka. We suppose the composition date by the first edition of ‘Zortzico a Bilbao’, which was published around 1864. It seemed to gain immediate popularity. A few years later, in 1870, the editors G. Brandus and S. Dufourse published “Le zorzico de Bilbao” in Paris, using a French translation by Louis Palianti.

In the following generation the baritone Ignacio Tabuyo (Rentería, Guipúzcoa, 1863 – San Sebastián, 1947) made numerous editions of ‘Zortzico to Bilbao’ in his name, therefore confusing people to believe that he was, in fact, the author. However, this was dismounted in his own homages at the end of his life, in 1946, when he publicly stated: I have not composed “La del Pañuelo Rojo”. I have contributed to its popularity…”

The version for two cellos by David Johnstone is of moderate-to-difficult level. It does not venture into the very high registers of the instrument, but very frequent double-stoppings often give the impression that we are hearing three voices! Also, thinking of being of interest to twenty-first century cellists Johnstone has equally conceived this as a concert piece to that of a song. A few original harmonies have been lightly changed, along with a fast-flowing accompanying part in the central episode. Generally, the first cello is melodically prominent in the outer sections in the D minor key, whilst the central major section is more confided to cello two. However, as a chamber music duo both parts are of almost equal importance.

David Johnstone offers the dedication of this version to Teresa Valente Pereira, a cellist with a wealth of international experience on the front stand of European Symphony orchestras, and is currently the Principal Cello of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra (BOS – la Orquesta Sinfónica de Bilbao) – thus making her an ideal recipient of a ‘Bilbao’ piece!




Welcome to Johnstone-Music! A big Anglo-Spanish web for MUSICIANS and especially CELLISTS – original music scores for orchestral instruments and keyboard. Plus articles, audios, videos, resources, catalogues, news etc. Official web of the professional cellist David Johnstone, principal cello Navarre Symphony Orchestra (Spain), chamber musician and soloist in many premieres. Hundreds of cello arrangements in the web for a symbolic charge per download or for free.

The following have taken his work onboard, sometimes with special collaborations as composer-arranger-performer: the Philadelphia Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi, Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela, Orchestre Nouvelle Generation de Montreal, the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbon), Orchestra da Camera del Locarnese (Suiza), The Zagreb Soloists, the Saint Petersburg Musical Theatre “Zazerkalye” Chamber Orchestra, the Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum (Poland), Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra (New Zealand), Camerata Cambrensis (Basque country), Essener Philharmoniker (Germany), Ensemble Metamorphosis of Belgrade (Serbia), with Ara Malikian (Non Profit Music Chamber Orchestra – Madrid), and a long etc.. Currently, many courses, conservatoires and music schools, university String departments etc. use his repertoire; there are dozens of his arrangements on ‘You Tube’ …

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