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 The war years

In these years the manufacture of shellacs turning at 78 rpm continued. In early January 1933 the Columbia Graphophone Company, SAE, of which Juan Inurrieta was the manager and major shareholder, had launched onto the market records at 33 1/3 rpm1 with a number of grooves between 50 and 110 per centimeter of radius. In other words, what are known as microgrooves or long plays. But they had to return to manufacture wide groove records again. The launching of the microgrooves of Columbia entailed such a failure that they were forced to abandon their manufacture. All the patents, trademarks, contracts, phonographic matrices, machinery and manufacturing tools of the corporation were acquired by Juan Inurrieta on March 2nd 1936 before a notary. In 1936 the factory catalog contained a small list of four records, under references ranging from RGLD 10000 to 10003. They are recordings by the Columbia Band and Orchestra, mainly with fragments of zarzuela.

Juan Inurrieta stated that the raw material which was used then for these microgroove records meant an invention too, but that "the staff who gave support to the red bloc took the formulas and procedures and all the amount of manufactured raw material". This was the reason why he was unable to resume the manufacture of these records "during the glorious national movement".

La Voz de Guipúzcoa (1931)









After the coup d'etat of 1936 the activity of the Columbia did not stop, although it underwent major changes in its catalog. In the general catalog published a few months before the war, there were five different versions of the Himno de Riego, besides the International and other Republican hymns, which soon disappeared from the repertoire.

Many of the recordings made during these three years of war were performed by the Band of Requeté of Navarra, both alone and accompanied by the Orfeón Pamplones. Hymns and marches, arranged mostly by who was its director, Silvano Cervantes, were recorded. Carlist titles such as Oriamendi, Himno de los Pelayos, Marcha triunfal del requeté, Boinas rojas, Capitán Imaz, Glorias de España, ¡Alto, quién vive!, Invicto, Himno de las margaritas, with choirs of Margaritas de Pamplona, etc. are preserved. Also the Municipal Band of San Sebastian conducted by Regino Ariz recorded marches like Laureles para Mola or pasodobles like ¡Arriba España! at that time. A repertoire which doesn't fail to include the contributions of the Orfeón Burgalés and Orfeón Donostiarra.

The factory of Columbia records was used by the Francoist system as a propaganda tool. The anthem of the Falange, "Cara al Sol", composed by the Basque composer Juan Tellería and arranged for the recording by Ángel Cabanas, Juan Cabanas's brother, who was then the head of the printed publications of the Falange, was manufactured there. It was impressed with a special label for the occasion, red with the symbol of the Falange.

After the fall of San Sebastian in September 1936, Vicente Cadenas, who was the National Chief of Propaganda, chose San Sebastian as an operations centre for several reasons. One, for its proximity to the border with France, that allowed them to have a steady stream of news; another, because San Sebastian had all the infrastructure needed to edit their magazines and publications, especially taking into account that there they had the required presence of the paper industry. Among others, the national magazine of the Falange "Vértice", the weekly paper for children “Pelayos”, "F.E. Falange española" and the newspaper "Unidad” were published in San Sebastian.

The proximity with France allowed getting the required raw materials that were in short supply in the area of Franco’s soldiers. Although they already had the Falangist anthem in the Columbia factory since May 1937, they could not manufacture it due to the lack of the necessary material. For the production of this album, Vicente Cadenas managed personally in Bordeaux the purchase of the "shellac" which was essential for its manufacture and he bought it for the first edition. All these hymns and marches were used for radio broadcasts in the Spain of Franco. The extracts of the hymns, which had been especially recorded on a record that was provided to broadcasting stations for this purpose, were broadcasted at the end of all programs.

In 1938 the Propaganda Delegation of the Falange in Guipúzcoa began a series entitled “Archivo de la voz nacional sindicalista“ to collect the voices of politicians and prominent ministers of the regime. In May of that year, the first record of this series with the words addressed to "the Spanish proletarians” by Raimundo Fernández Cuesta, who was the National Secretary of the party, was released. The collection was made in the factory of Columbia records, which received congratulations on the quality of the recordings.

In early 1939, Juan Inurrieta requested authorization to do an "expansion of the factory". Actually this was not to expand his industry, but rather to get permission to import the raw material they needed to manufacture steel needles for gramophone and other essential components to make talking machines, such as arms and diaphragms, besides the chassis for radios that they also manufactured. For the production of records, he requested the import of 12,000 kilos of raw material or bakelite. The factory had suspended the production due to the lack of imports of these items. The industry delegation denied the permission, because they considered this import would consume major currencies for an industry whose business was not an "urgent national need".

1 These records allowed output sound for ten or twelve minutes, without interruption, in each of their faces. In: Musicografía No. 1, 1933, p. 15


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