Tomás Bretón

Tomás Bretón
29.12.1850 - 2.12.1923


Tomás Bretón y Hernández (Salamanca, 29 December 1850 – Madrid, 2 December 1923) was a Spanish conductor and composer.
Tomás Bretón was born in Salamanca on 29 December 1850. He completed his musical studies at the School of Fine Arts in his hometown, where he earned his living playing in small provincial orchestras, theaters and churches. At age 16, he moved to Madrid, where he played in orchestras in zarzuela theaters. He also began his studies at the Royal Conservatory under Emilio Arrieta. In 1872, Bretón received the first prize for composition at the Conservatory, together with Ruperto Chapi. After having worked in small theaters for several years, in 1882 he received a grant from the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando which enabled him to study in Rome, Milan, Vienna and Paris between 1881 and 1884. There, he found time to work on more ambitious works, such the oratorio El Apocalipsis and the opera Los amantes de Teruel. The premiere of this last work at the Teatro Real de Madrid cemented his name as one of the major composers of Spanish opera. Bretón was also very active as a conductor, first in the Unión Artístico Musical (1878–81), which he founded, and later in Madrid Concert Society, where he served as principal conductor between 1885 and 1891. In that capacity, he founded a series of concerts where both Spanish music and international novelties were played. In 1901, he became director of the Conservatory of Madrid, a position he held until his retirement in 1921, struggling to modernize teaching at the institution and broaden its international orientation. He died in Madrid on 2 December 1923.

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