|Tomás López Torregrosa|
This page is © Christopher Webber, Blackheath, London, UK. Last updated September 3rd 2008
Tomás López Torregrosa was born in Alicante, on 24th September 1868. He trained at the Madrid Conservatoire, where his composition tutor was Chapí - a sure sign that great things were expected of the young student. On graduation, he was immediately appointed as a conductor at the Teatro Apolo, where he rapidly established himself as a leading composer of incidental music and short género chico zarzuelas, sometimes in collaboration with other composers - notably Quinito Valverde.
His first notable success was La banda de trompetas (1896) to a text by Carlos Arniches. El pobre diablo (1897), written with Quinito Valverde to a text by Celso Lucio, is a modern madrileño revue, where the Seven Deadly Sins are bad enough to even shock the devil - shades of Ben Jonson's The Devil is an Ass. El primer reserva (1897, also with Quinito Valverde) was a prelude to the appearance of his best works, El santo de la Isidra and La fiesta de San Antón (1898, both to texts by Arniches), which well deserve their place amongst the best-loved one-act sainetes madrileños.
Of his later works Los chicos de la escuela (texts by Carlos Arniches and José Jackson Veyán), written with Quinito Valverde as a parody of the work of the Children's Company in 1903, has recently been successfully recorded; but only the short humorada cómico-lírica El pobre Valbuena (1904, again with Quinito Valverde) proved as popular as the earlier triumphs. Both had Carlos Arniches as librettist, together (in the latter) with Enrique García Alvarez, and their musical content is slight but pleasant. Torregrosa continued to compose sainetes (as well as operetta-style pieces and revues) until his regrettably early death in Madrid on 23rd June 1913, without ever quite scaling the heights many of his contemporaries had expected.
Certainly, none of his more ambitious pieces - despite such resonant titles as La muerte de Agripina (1902) or El Hurón y Felipe II (1908) - achieved anything like the success of the 1898 sainetes, both of which are full of fresh melody and strong situation. La fiesta de San Antón, especially, is a highly successful union of poignant drama and sometimes intensely memorable music. Torregrosa's reputation may have declined nowadays, but the two popular sainetes will surely keep his name alive for many years to come.
**See also El pudín negro de Stornoway (December 28th 1904), "by Torregrosa and Quinito Valverde, to a libretto by Carlos Arniches"**
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