The Reapers

The Reapers

Description

Els Segadors (The reapers) was declared in 1993 by the parliament of Catalonia, an autonomous region within Spain, to be the official anthem of the region. This hymn was not written for any particular purpose; rather, it was the product of the long historical evolution of a popular song. The words to the song go back to an historical event, the Reapers' War that began in 1640, when 1,000 laborers entered Barcelona on Corpus Christi Day, using their sickles as weapons. The revolt was a response to the abuses committed by the troops of Philip IV and the Count-Duke of Olivares against the Catalan towns when they passed through the Catalan territory, including the murders of several members of the guard in Barcelona. The oral tradition—and probably the written one as well—allowed for dissemination of the song and the development of a variety of lyrics and music over a period of more than 200 years. By the late 19th century, the song had been forgotten by the masses, but the version by one of the greatest Catalan poets, Jacint Verdaguer (1845−1902), made it popular again. Several composers made adaptations of the music to be sung by solo voices or male or mixed choirs, and gramophones and the incipient railroads did the rest in making the song widely known throughout the region. In the first third of 20th century, there was a debate about whether Catalonia needed a national hymn, such as it had never had before, or if Els Segadors might already be accepted as an anthem. During the Franco period (1939−75) the song was prohibited, and it remained unknown to new generations. This wax cylinder includes the version for mixed choir of Els Segadors written in 1897 by Lluís Millet (1867−1941), performed by the Orfeó Català (a choral group based in Barcelona) and conducted by the composer. Although the sound of the cylinder is very poor, the mixed voices and the text can be heard clearly. This item is part of the collection of wax cylinders probably recorded between 1903 and 1910 by Rupert Regordosa and acquired by the Biblioteca de Catalunya from the violinist Xavier Turull in 2000. The exact place and date of recording are still unknown.

Last updated: January 13, 2015