Year of composition
Joan Carreras y Dagas (1823-1900) stood out as one of the most significant musicians in Girona during 19th century. A highly productive composer, he also had the distinction of establishing the first musical school in Girona, around 1850. He also taught at the Barcelona School for the Blind, where he obtained the position of director. After being part of the Liceu orchestra and the church of Santa Maria del Pi, he emigrated to France. He eventually returned to the Bisbal del Empordà, where he died in 1900. He left behind a substantial collection of over two thousand musical compositions, which were acquired by the Provincial Council of Barcelona. This collection would later serve as the foundation for the musical archive of the Library of Catalonia.
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the descriptive Fantasy “Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat” can be considered the first symphonic poem in the Catalan cultural realm. A note found on one of the manuscript’s final pages enables us to pinpoint its creation to the year 1879, coinciding with its successful performance at the Barcelona School for the Blind.
Based on annotations made by the author throughout the score, this composition can be interpreted as an artistic representation of a procession of worshipers traveling to Montserrat mountain to honor the Virgin. The various movements vividly depict the different stages of the ascent, capturing the customary rituals and experiences along the way.
The orchestration used adheres to the classic style of the Romantic era, featuring a string section, winds, brass and timpani as the only percussion component. Additionally, the composition sporadically incorporates the triangle, snare drum, and bass drum. Notably, the four horns exhibit varying tunings alternating between A, E, and G. To enhance accessibility, all horn parts have been transcribed to the widely used F tuning. Regarding the interpretive cues and texts, we have opted to preserve them in their original form as found in the original score.
I. L’albada (Dawn)
II. In memoria aeterna (In eternal memory)
III. Es reuneixen els romers (The pilgrims are united)
IV. Marxa dels romers (March of the pilgrims)
V. Cançó del pastor (Song of the shepherd)
VI. El carril (The lane)
VII. Interludi (Interludio)
VIII. Pujada a la muntanya de Montserrat (Climbing Montserrat mountain)
IX. Entrada al temple i salve a la Verge per l’Escolania (Entrance to the temple and save the virgin with the choir boys)
X. Fi de la romeria (End of the pilgrimage)