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Julián Gayarre Museum-house

Museums / Monograph


Julián Gayarre Museum-house
Julián Gayarre Museum-house
Julián Gayarre Museum-house
Julián Gayarre Museum-house


Julián Gayarre, one of the most acclaimed tenors in the world in the 19th century, is closely linked to Roncal, the village where he was born in 1844. The traces of his legacy are more than evident in this town in the Navarrese Pyrenees where the people venerate their most illustrious son.

The house where he was born, subsequently extended by the musician himself, is now the Julián Gayarre Museum. Inaugurated in 1990 to coincide with the centenary of his death, the building houses objects associated with the tenor and an extensive collection of documents on his life.

Julián Gayarre was born in Roncal in 1844 of a humble family. He was a shepherd until the age of 15 when he moved to Pamplona to work as a shop assistant and later as a blacksmith. At the age of 18, the musician Joaquín Maya discovered his singing talents at the then recently-created Orfeón Pamplonés. He was granted a scholarship to study at the Conservatoire in Madrid, where he won the second prize for singing in 1868 and the Government of Navarre subsequently awarded him a grant to study in Milan, where his rise was meteoric. He triumphed on the stages of Italy, Russia, Austria, Germany, France and Argentina… until his voice broke definitively in December 1889 during a performance in Madrid. He died on January 2nd 1890.

Although unfortunately no recordings of his voice have been found, numerous critics of the time spoke of his prestige and quality. One interesting fact is that Gayarre's performance of the operas Tannhäuser and Lohengrin led to the success of the then much-questioned Wagner.

His place of birth now houses an extensive collection of the costumes used by the tenor in his performances as well as other operatic props, of which a series of gloves, shoes, swords and hairpieces are particularly notable.

There is also a collection of unusual objects that Gayarre brought back from his travels, such as a bicycle, a carriage of the era and a billiard table, or gifts that the artist received throughout this career: prizes, decorations, gifts, photographs and even funeral wreaths.

Pride of place in the museum is held by the larynx of the tenor, which was removed with the family's permission a few hours after his death for medical research purposes.
Among the vast collection of documentation on display are scores, librettos, diplomas, press cuttings, musical critiques, posters and handwritten letters, together with various pieces containing the tributes and initiatives that took place after his death to celebrate the artist's life.

The period furniture in the bedroom and the adjoining lounge on the upper floor are other things to be seen in the tenor's house.

You could round off a visit to the Museum-House by going to the mausoleum where the tenor's remains are at rest, beneath a beautiful sculpture in the town's peaceful cemetery.


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