Francisco Tárrega: ¡Adelita! (Mazurka)

Francisco Tárrega

Legend has it that the piece Adelita owes its name to Adela Aymerich, the allegedly illegitimate daughter of the King of Spain Alfonso XII.

Musically, the piece draws on the Romantic style conceived by Frederic Chopin.

Chopin left his native country, Poland, at the age of 20 and never returned. He sought inspiration and identity in the memory of his childhood resulting in new instrumental genres such as the mazurka.

Chopin's mazurka is inspired by three Polish traditional folk dances in triple meter: the mazurek, a lively dance; the kujawiak, a romantic or calm dance; and the oberek, a lively spinning dance.

By following the idea of Chopin's stylized mazurka genre, it seems that Tárrega seeks the inspiration in the kujawiak whose music is characterised by a sentimental and melancholic melody with rubato to deliver this beautiful Adelita.

Unlike other mazurka works by Tárrega, for Adelita, the composer avoids a literal representation of the mazurek and/or kujawiak's characteristic dotted rhythm (curiously, it appears only once at the penultimate bar). This is, probably, to prioritize the melody over the essence of the original dance. However, the combination of the one-time appearance of the dotted rhythm and the consistent accent on the second beat insinuates that it is a mazurka.

Music has a powerful property that evokes beautiful memories. Adelita transports me back in time. I still vividly remember the day I played this Adelita in Spain. There were close friends of mine, one of them was from Poland. It was the first time for her to listen to Adelita but she recognized the kujawiak element of her native country in the music and we were both so surprised.