Mariano San Miguel

From Wind Repertory Project
Mariano San Miguel


Mariano San Miguel-Ureclay (1880, Oñate, Spain - October 1935, Madrid, Spain) was a Spanish composer and clarinetist.

He showed both talent and interest in music a young boy, and after selecting clarinet as his preferred instrument, he practiced daily until his progress warranted admission to Spain’s prestigious National Conservatory of Madrid. He continued to improve as a clarinetist and also earned excellent grades in his other music subjects.

In 1901, San Miguel was successful in an audition for the king’s personal band, the Banda de Guardia de Alabarderos. These royal guards received their name through their tradition of carrying halberds, a combination spear and battle axe dating back to the 15th century. In 1903, San Miguel became first clarinetist of the Concert Society of Madrid, and in 1906 he was named solo clarinetist of the Alabarderos Band, a position he held until his retirement in 1928. The director of that famous band (from 1908 until the beginning of the Civil War in 1936) was Emilio Vega. In 1908, San Miguel founded the Society of Wind Instruments of Madrid; he also served as first clarinetist of the Royal Theater Orchestra during this time.

San Miguel demonstrated another of his abilities when he founded the Harmonia Revista Musical in Madrid in 1906. He followed the same procedure used by many other publishers of band music at the time by including a new band work with the journal each month. The music usually consisted of an arrangement of an opera selection, a paso doble composed by San Miguel, a selection from a zarzuela (light opera), or a concert band work from another country. Spanish marches (stylistically different from the paso dobles) or funeral marches were sometimes included, and many of the works were arranged by San Miguel.

The music of San Miguel reflects his experience in the bands and orchestras of Spain during the early decades of the 20th century. The ornamentation and the solo sections in his paso dobles are reminiscent of music one might hear at the bullfights, a Gypsy encampment, or a concert hall. He composed more than 200 works, among which the most popular is the paso doble La Oreja de Oro—The Golden Ear.

Works for Winds


  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 526-527.