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At the time when the recording industry began in San Sebastian, the city was already the summer resort of the Spanish court. This attracted high-end tourism that led to the development of trade in conformity with the new tastes of the gentry. Many commercial establishments were opened, mostly family type, such as those installed by Salustiano Loinaz and Inurrieta brothers.

The Inurrieta family1 is native to the region of Goierri. The father, Francisco Ignacio Inurrieta, was born in Zegama. When he married Valentina Ordozgoiti they settled in Segura, hometown of his wife. In 1888 they moved to San Sebastian with three of their sons: Juan, Antonio and Agustina. Francisco, the eldest son, had married some months before and the youngest, Pedro2, will be born in San Sebastián.

Ignacio Inurrieta was a “mikelete”, he is remembered as a simple man without big ambitions, unlike his wife Valentina who was allegedly the promoter of the family move in search of a better future. They set up home at 1 General Etxague Street, in the newly opened eastern extension of the city, next to Brecha Market, where they managed two stalls. There, they sold chickens, vegetables and fruits. They were also suppliers of the Royal House.

Brecha Market. Orig.: Koldo Mitxelena Library

The Inurrieta brothers, Antonio and Juan, diversified their business and were combining some activities with others for some time. In 1904, Antonio Inurrieta was advertised as a commission agent of the French Gramophone Company3 (Balmes, 56 – Barcelona) for the sale of a new device with acoustic arm, but without appearing any address in the adds. We have to wait until 1909 to see the press announcement of  “Inurrieta Brothers” published, this time at 5 Guetaria Street, as authorized dealer of the Hillgartner brand of pianos from Berlin.

In these early years, Antonio and Juan sold instruments, talking machines, records and many other new devices to earn their livelihood. When Juan Inurrieta married Juana Darrosez, he moved to live at 22 San Marcial Street, so this address also began to appear in advertisements for the sale of devices of Casa Inurrieta, although the stores and the office continued in Guetaria Street.

Soon both brothers began to register trademarks of accessories for talking machines and musical instruments. In 1912 Antonio Inurrieta requested a mark for accordions with steel reeds and another for diaphragms of talking machines at the Patent Office. In 1913 Juan, who was advertised as a trader of musical instruments and gramophones at 5 Guetaria Street, registered a brand for all kind of musical instruments, printed music editions, music manuals, pianos, player pianos, gramophones, talking machines, harmoniums and illustrated catalogues, and he also registered the name of “Casa Inurrietaas a tradename. In this year he announced the representation of “Mercedes” gramophone, which had been already registered by him as a brand in October. In 1915, together with Mariano Lahidalga4, he registered a patent for a method to manufacture a wooden horn for talking machines. Newspaper advertisements for the sale of new appliances proliferated. In 1915 player pianos were advertised, highlighting among them "The Kastonome". Two years later "Fischer" pianolas were in their ads, without leaving the "Mercedes" gramophones behind, of which they were sole agents in the north.

In 1917 the path of Juan Inurrieta crossed with another shopkeeper's. This trader was very important for the development of the music industry in San Sebastian, Salustiano Loinaz. Mr. Loinaz was the owner of the Pathé factory in Pasajes. In April of that year, the Inurrieta Firm, located in 5 Guetaria Street, was already listed as an agency for the sale of Pathé records in San Sebastian, and it was even advertised, with the title "A new industry in Spain", for the exhibition and sale of Pathé records manufactured in Pasajes in his shop. A few months earlier the Hispano-American Society5, which was the germ of what later would lead to the birth of the Columbia Graphophone Company of San Sebastian, had been set up. The Hispano-American Society allowed Juan to continue his business selling devices not sold by the society6.

Juan, obsessed with what he called "canned music", was completely devoted to phonograph business, whereas Antonio continued in his business at the Brecha Market, and along with other financial partners, he opened an ice factory in the district of Antiguo in San Sebastian7 around 1918. As discussed below, that factory was located next to that belonged to Juan.

In these years there was a remarkable fact that shows the enterprising personality of Juan Inurrieta. As it has been mentioned above, the recordings used to be made abroad. In January 1912 and thanks to the initiative of this trader, who financed the trip, Remigio Peña, Narbonense Fortea and Secundino Esnaola, members of the Orfeón Donostiarra, moved to Berlin to impress under the Homokord label, several records with Basque songs. The recorded repertoire is as follows: Songs by Iparraguirre, Maitena, Mirentxu, Mendi Mendiyan, The tamborrada and Rigodones Euskaros. On their return from Germany, the advertisement of the exclusive sale of these recordings in the shop at 5 Guetaria Street was published.




The recording of these songs was very well received. In an article published in the journal "Euskal-Erria" in January 1912 ”Luse-Mendi” told readers the following event:




“In a sporty banquet, held a few days ago, we could see a comforting observation. A not insignificant portion of Basque music items were being listened to in a beautiful phonograph... Believe us that the fact made us feel very satisfied... It's time for our songs to come to banish so cocky tango and vulgarity, with which our ears had been tortured... We learned later that the device belonged to the renowned firm Iñurrieta (for the record, it is not paid advertising), which works in the protection of our music and reveal our personality in this topic, with a decision and enthusiasm that is worthy of warmest praise. God bless them!”


This was not the only initiative of Inurrieta firm to impress records. In September 1916, the singer of couplets from Menorca, Pilar Alonso, made her début at "Salon Miramar" in San Sebastián within the tour she was doing throughout the north of the country. She was so successful that the firm Inurrieta hired her to cut several records. According to the press, the engineer was an English man and Inurrieta Firm gave her a gramophone with the records of the 13 couplets she had recorded. Among the titles, there are hits like "La Castañera", "Ay, Ramón" and "El billete perfumado". In January 1917 she came back to carry out another agreement signed with Inurrieta firm as well. This time she recorded music by Larruga , Yust, Retana and Castells.

1 According to Sacramental Records, Ignacio Inurrieta was born in Zegama in 1847 and Valentina Ordozgoiti in Segura in 1845. They had seven children. There are some contradictions between this record and the information concerning the dates of birth in the first municipal census we have been able to look up. In the population census of San Sebastian in 1912, only both parents, Ignacio and Valentina, Antonio, Agustina and Pedro were registered at 1-3 General Echague Street. This year Juan is registered at 22 San Marcial Street along with his wife Juana Darrosez Uria and their children: Aurora (1908), María (1911) and Mercedes (1912). Enrique will be born in 1913.
2 Pedro Inurrieta Ordozgoiti moved to Madrid in the thirties and along with his brother Francisco went to Argentina.
3 Among his agencies in the Basque Country were also included: Enrique García (Gran Via, 8, 10 and 12, Bilbao) and Juan Montes (Hernani, 21, San Sebastian)
4 Mariano Lahidalga was also owner in Vitoria of a similar trade to Inurrieta's.
5 In this month, on August 3rd 1918, the newspaper ABC reported the visit to the Hispano-American Society, which belonged to Inurrieta brothers and Company. The items offered for sale, both in cash payment and in instalments, like shotguns, watches and other modern items are mentioned.
6 In 1923 under the number 50333 Juan requested the brand name "Radiophone" - "Juan Inurrieta - San Sebastian" to distinguish receiving and transmitting radio machines and their accessories.
7 On August 2nd 1918 ABC reported the visit to the Brecha Market and “his owner" Antonio Inurrieta. It is mentioned that Antonio had an installation of cold-storage plant at 7 General Echague Street. In the same way, it is reported that he had been a supplier of the Royal House for over 10 years. The article points out that He was about to finish a great ice and cold-storage factory along with a group of capitalists...



Basque archives of music
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