Adolf Ventas

It is no easy to summarize such an amazing life as the ADOLF VENTAS (1919 – 2014) one, who was a very prolific performer, pedagogue, composer and arranger. You can read his biography in the book “Adolf Ventas. Su vida, su música y el saxofón” (in Spanish) by Israel Mira and other authors, edited by Rivera Mota (2003).

ADOLF VENTAS, as a composer, needed to enlarge and spread the original repertoire for saxophone in order to help the instrument to be introduced into the Spanish classical music scene, where it still was a perfect unknown. Since the 1970s, he composed, arranged and transcribed about 80 works for different formations: from saxophone solo pieces to concerts as a soloist, including quartets and ensembles in addition to works for symphonic band. He also wrote very interesting methods for saxophone.

Many of his original works are a great combination between the music by Spanish composers from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and the modal music by French composer Olivier Messiaen. The music by ADOLF VENTAS sounds fresh, without excessive artifices, because he perhaps wanted to demonstrate the saxophone was a suitable instrument for classical music to the audience at that time.

Details of EL SUR

Personal edition. 8 pages. Duration: ca. 9:30. Neoclassic

Difficulty level: INTERMEDIATE – HIGH. Range (written): C3 – A5

Technical elements: Fast excerpts (also detached). Diversity of articulations. Breath and air column control (long phrases).

Performance: To play with con agility and ease the fast excerpts and movements. To search of the most suitable expressivity for each sections or movements.

Listen to this work here:

Personal Comment on EL SUR

I have always thought that the Adolf Ventas efforts to “normalize” the saxophone in the field of classical music, has not yet been fully recognized among saxophonists from his country. In my opinion, some of his methods for saxophone have the same (or even more) value than many of those which came from other countries as France, where the pedagogy of the saxophone have had always had more tradition, development and promotion. I encourage everyone to discover his Arpegios, his Cromatismos or his 28 Estudios-Caprichos. You will be surprised.

Adolf Ventas composed a singular kind of modern classical music (he didn’t like contemporary music and avoided the use of advanced techniques that, in my opinion, give the saxophone a great personality), a blend of modal melodies and harmonies came from the Spanish nationalism music with the colors of French music of the first half of the 20th Century, in very clear music forms.

EL SUR (South) is a good example of that I was trying to describe at the end of the previous paragraph, the same thing that one of Ventas best known original work, CUEVAS DE NERJA for saxophone quartet (SATB). EL SUR is a kind of tribute to the music of Andalusia (the southern region of the Iberian peninsula) because of the traditional airs and melodies. This suite in three movements for unaccompanied saxophone was written in 1997 and premiered by the composer himself in October of the same year.

  1. EMBRUJO (185 bars, ca. 4:30): It is the slowest and most evocative movement of the suite. It is written in the lied form of A-B-A. Its central section has faster notes and allows –in my opinion– a more flexible interpretation and with a slightly higher tempo. Re-exposure has a slightly difference: it is written in 4/4, while the first section is done in 7/4.
  2. MARTINETE (78 bars, ca. 3:00): It is a medium beat dance with a marked rhythmic character, written mostly in 7/8 (3 + 2 + 2) with frequent measure changes in 6/8 or 8/8. This dance has its origins in some traditional songs with sounds of forge accompaniment as a martinet, a kind of a pile driver beating on an anvil arranged on a wooden block.
  3. ZAPATEADO (121 bars, ca. 2:00): The suite ends with a detached, bright and fast movement in 6/8 beat with the intention of imitating the shoe-tapping (zapateo or taconeo) of this Andalusian dance.

I encourage everyone to discover this piece and do not hesitate to contact me if you want to know more about EL SUR by Adolf Ventas.