Azcárraga, Pasodoble Fallero is a Spanish-style “pasodoble” march composed in 1994 by American musician, Richard Scott Cohen, during his Fulbright research scholarship residency in the Valencia region of Spain, from 1993-1995. The research focused on Valencia’s rich and historic community band movement, unequaled anywhere else in the world. The resulting dissertation helped Cohen complete his Doctor of Music degree in Conducting at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois, USA), and it received the Fritz Thelen Wind Music Research Award from the IGEB International Society for the Research and Promotion of Wind Music (Graz, Austria), in 2000.
Cohen composed Azcárraga for the 50th anniversary of the Azcárraga – Fernando el Católico Falla Club of Valencia. It was premiered on March 15, 1994, by the L’Entusiasta (“the Enthusiastic”) community band from the village of Benifairó de la Valldigna, for which he was serving as the interim musical director. The Piles Editorial de Música publishing company, Valencia’s major music publishing firm, published the work later that year. The march is a lively, festive “pasodoble” (a “two-step” dance-style march). Since it was also originally conceived as an anthem for this Falla club, Cohen also complemented the music with original lyrics in the local language known as Valenciano or Catalan.
Azcárraga was written in celebration of the annual Valencia festival known as Las Fallas. Las Fallas is a week-long celebration consisting of parades, parties, contests, traditional foods, dancing, music and fireworks – morning, noon and night. The festival is a springtime ritual of rebirth. It was originally celebrated by the burning of leftover scraps of wood to make room for the year’s new creations. Over the years, these scraps were transformed into scrap-constructions known as Fallas. Today, a Falla is an ephemeral work of art – a statue or float created from wood and papier-mâché, and beautifully and ornately painted and decorated. It can be whimsical, child-like, satirical or even obscene. Many Fallas are truly spectacular. The festival culminates at the first strokes of midnight on March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph – the patron saint of carpenters. At that moment, the preceding year’s worth of fundraising, planning, construction and creativity goes up in flames – literally. Each and every one of the city’s 800 Fallas is torched to the ground – amazing fireballs of destruction, in whose wake is left the opportunity and thrill of rebuilding, recreating, and re-celebrating life once again in the upcoming year.
Azcárraga, Pasodoble Fallero is not only the official anthem-march for the Azcárraga – Fernando el Católico Falla Club, it has also become a perennial favorite in Valencia during Las Fallas, and at other regional events throughout Spain. It is dedicated both to the members of the Azcárraga Falla Club, and to the band which both solicited and inspired its creation: the “Societat Musical l’Entusiasta” Concert Band de Benifairó de la Valldigna.
Richard Scott Cohen D.M. – Fulbright to Spain 1993