Pablo de Sarasate

Pablo de Sarasate was born the son of a local military bandmaster. Sarasate demonstrated musical talent very early and began violin lessons at age five. Making his concert debut at eight, Sarasate went to Madrid to study with violinist Manuel Rodriguez Sáez, where he proved a sensation at the court of Queen Isabel II. At the age 12, Sarasate moved to Paris and began his studies at the Paris Conservatoire. Beginning in 1859, Sarasate embarked on a world tour that ran, more or less continuously, for three decades.

Of Sarasate's 57 known compositions, many were fashioned in a style that reached little beyond its own time. The Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20, remain an indispensable work in the violinist's repertory, however, and his splashy Spanish Dances, Opp. 21-23 and 26, still furnish enjoyable diversions in the course of many a violin recital. Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25 is likewise a violin standard, and suggests Sarasate's role in transmitting Spanish idioms to greater Europe.

At his death from bronchitis in 1908 at age 64, Sarasate was in possession of two Stradivarius violins; one was bequeathed to the Paris Conservatoire, and the other the Conservatory of Madrid. The remainder of Sarasate's possessions was left to Pamplona, which has erected a museum in his memory.