Salvador Brotons (b. 1959, Barcelona)
In addition to his prolific compositional activities, Salvador Brotons has distinguished himself as a flutist and conductor. The composer received training in all three fields at his native Barcelona's Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Xavier Montsalvatge, among others. Brotons's output includes numerous chamber and symphonic works, as well as several pieces for musical theater. Awards include the Spanish National Orchestra Award, the Golden Youth Award, the City of Barcelona Award, and the Queen Sofia Prize. For more information visit

Trío, Op. 39
Relocated to the USA on a Fulbright Scholarship, Brotons composed his Trío, Op. 39 for the Barcelona Trio during his doctoral studies at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The single-movement work avoids overtly nationalistic expression, although the numerous additive rhythms (frequently 3/4 + 3/8) and syncopations may suggest folkloric roots. More than any Spanish model, however, Shostakovich seems to have been the major influence on the present undertaking. Brotons announced his admiration for the Soviet composer in an early piano solo, the Elegy for the Death of Shostakovich, composed in 1975. The trio's powerfully evoked militarism bespeaks Brotons's assimilation of his senior colleague's aesthetic, as does the work's rigorous counterpoint.
Structurally, the trio can be understood on many levels. The first impression is of violent contrast between a number of discreet sections. Tenderness, ferocity, lugubriousness, and humor are but a few of the emotions Brotons requires his performers to project in rapid succession. On closer examination, a mirror-scheme becomes evident, in which a chain of diverse ideas leads to a central episode only to reemerge in reverse order. Sonata-form, too, is easily discerned in the juxtaposition of several strongly defined theme groups that recur in a telescoped recapitulation after a tumultuous climax. Still more detailed study reveals an underlying unity beneath the illusion of extreme diversity: thematic transformation creates unconscious links between many of the seemingly most remote sections. Thus, the painfully protracted opening violin line furnishes the pitches for the cello's explosive outburst in the Allegro feroce, and the piano's plodding ostinato in the middle section provides the intervals for the coda's final sprint. On a more localized scale, too, are numerous compositional subtleties - fleeting canons, clever metric modulations, overlapping phrases, and yet the integration of these techniques dispels any sense of self-conscious display or academic tedium. Compositional craft is clearly at the service of musical vision in Brotons's brilliant essay.
Text by Adam Kent ©2000

updated: 8/11/2011