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Jesús Guridi was born in Vitoria into a family of musicians: his father was a violinist, his mother a pianist, and two of his grandfathers – Luis Bidaola, organist, and Celestina Ledesma, composer and professor – reached a level of fame as musicians the same as his great grandfather, the composer Nicolás Ledesma. Guridi studied in Bilbao, Madrid, Decaux, Paris at the Schola Cantorum with Vincent D’Indy, and in Cologne with Otto Neitzel.
In 1911 he was named director of the Choral Society of Bilbao, and under his leadership soon became a magnificent chorus. He lived in Madrid from 1939 and was appointed an Academic of Bellas Artes in 1945, and later in 1955, Professor of Harmony and Director of the Conservatory.
He achieved an enormous reputation as composer owing to works such as his opera,
(1920), the ‘zarzuela’ (music theatre),
Diez Melodias Vascas
for orchestra (1940), later arranged into a notorious version for solo piano. His synthesis of Basque folklore is one of the most important contributions to Spanish twentieth-century music.