In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing.
Thus begins the most prized jewel of Castilian literature, “Don Quijote de la Mncha”, published in its second edition in the year 1615 by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
A novel which has conquered the entire world, and is perhaps, with the Bible, the work most often translated. Its characters have truly become universal personifications: Don Quijote, the idealist and the dreamer; Sancho Panza, his loyal companion, practical and somewhat a fatalist.
Joaquín Rodrigo composed the symphonic poem Ausencias de Ducinea to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, and the work was premiered in Madrid on April 19th, 1948 by the National Orchestra of Spain, conducted by Eduardo Toldrá. Shortly later it was awarded the Cervantes Prize.
The composer presented his work with the following words:
ABSENCES OF DULCINEA
I should like to have you hear first a work which was inspired by “Don Quijote de la Mancha”j. Many works have been written on this theme; I shall name only that one which opens a new path in Spanish music: “El Retablo de Maese Pedro” by Manuel de Falla. After this work, we Spanish musicians began to seek in an older tradition, to find inspiration in Castilian music of the 16th century. The work which you are about to hear is a kind of poem for bass, four sopranos, and orchestra. It was inspired by the verses written by Don Quijote in Sierra Morena. The verses are, at times, exalted and grandiloquent; at times comic, if not grotesque. Each of the three verses, into which the poem is divided, ends with an invocation to Dulcinea del Toboso. It is then that, as in an obsessión, the voice of Dulcinea is heard coming fromg the four cardinal directions, always repeating the name of Dulcinea. The music follows the incidents of the literary poem, and abounds in chivalric accents and suggestions of ballads; the style is clearly of madrigal origin.