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The agreement with Decca and the time of Enrique

The company continued growing and in April 1942 the elevation of a floor in the factory for the installation of a recording room, a project designed by the architect Muñoz Baroja, was requested, but the license was not granted until March 1944.

The agreement with Decca was signed on May 18th 1943 between Edward Roberts Lewis, the manager of "The Decca Record Company Ltd.", and Don Juan Inurrieta y Ordozgoiti. But it is very likely that the author of this agreement was Enrique Inurrieta, who for a long time was taking the matrices personally from London to manufacture the records in San Sebastian.

Juan Inurrieta was a man of great commercial intuition but without music knowledge, and even less technical. He soon realized that, in the future, the corporation would need a person with a large formation, and this was the reason why he would guide his only son, Enrique, to engineering studies to replace him at the front of the company.

Enrique studied at the Marianists School and later at the University of Deusto. After completing his training as an engineer, he continued his studies at a factory in Switzerland and then he moved to England, where he made practices at Decca in London. By the year 1945, after the end of the Second World War, Enrique Inurrieta returned to San Sebastian and joined the company, where he worked with his father until his death on June 9th 1958. Enrique had particular responsibility for the technical part and he began to make the recordings.

On January 17th 1947, Juan Inurrieta asked the council for permission to build a new building, just in front of the factory, on a plot of land purchased by public auction to the City Council. Initially, the project only consisted of a basement, ground floor, first floor and part of a second one. The ground floor was intended for storage and for a room to work on packaging materials, the offices of the company were installed in a portion of the first floor and the other half, with height of two floors, would be devoted to the recording room, with large space to place orchestras and choirs. In 1953 a third floor was built for storage and warehousing of materials and also two more floors for flats for the family.

Juan died1 when he was on his way to Plasencia. Separated from his wife, he lived since 1940 with his girlfriend, Maria Cruz Goñi, whom he had met as an employee in the factory. Juan, short time before his death, had revealed to his son Enrique that his intention was to make up an entirely new will in order to leave the company in his hands, but, when he suddenly died, his legitimate wife kept the company. Juana Darrosez, his widow, appointed Thomas Toral, the husband of the eldest daughter Aurora, executor, and also gave her the most of the shares of the company. This fact left a deep wound in Enrique, as he had been, beside his father, who had made Columbia one of the most prestigious record companies in the state.

 Enrique Inurrieta

When Enrique started recording at Columbia, the recordings were made both in San Sebastian and Madrid. San Sebastian had a studio in the same building of the factory, but it was dedicate to folk music, popular music and recordings of small groups. The productions that require more resources were made at Del Barco Street and then at Libertad Street. Some of the zarzuelas by Pablo Sorozabal, such as "La duquesa del candil" were recorded in the forties in Del Barco Street, but it was no good for large orchestras. Much of the Flamenco published by the house was recorded there too, such as the records by Juanito Valderrama, Marifé de Triana, etc. In 1951, after an agreement with Ataúlfo Argenta, Enrique began to record a large number of zarzuelas at the Monumental, recordings that were distinguished for their high quality. This hall was chosen by Enrique after an extensive tour through all the cinemas and theatres in Madrid and also after any sporadic recording at the Alcalá theatre, which had good acoustics too. But the Monumental had, according to Enrique, the "perfect acoustics" for recordings, although the assembly was a hard work, since they had to remove all the seats and when the recording was finished they had to put them back in the evening. For this reason, the recordings were usually made in the morning, except the recording of the zarzuela “Gigantes y Cabezudos” performed by the Orfeón Donostiarra in the fifties, which had to be performed extremely quickly due to Argenta's prior commitments, so it lasted until four o’clock in the morning. All the planning of these recordings was made by Enrique personally, but the company had other technicians as Gerardo Ollero in San Sebastian, Olivé in Barcelona and Manuel Pascual in Madrid. Other conductors who recorded in this hall were Daniel Montorio, Benito Lauret and García Navarro, and for the most popular music, they were Nicasio Tejada and Indalecio Cisneros.

Those who knew Enrique Inurrieta underline his fantastic hearing to discover any mistake in the performance. The words of his widow, the soprano Ana Maria Iriarte, prove it: "I could not go with him to concerts; He used to get on my nerves. He said: that cello is low, the bassoon can be hardly heard ... listen to that musical phrase made by violins ... no, no, no, but that is not in balance, the second violins are not heard... it made me angry".

Enrique also dealt with choosing the music to be recorded by the label and this was not always carried out in accordance with quality criteria. The instinct to choose what later would become a hit could also be inherited from his father. It is not, therefore, a coincidence that the first records by Julio Iglesias, Sara Montiel or Los Bravos were released by Columbia, and against all odds, the company might become record sales and profits with an album such as "La Vaca Lechera". Coinciding with the success of Julio Iglesias, they set up a factory in Miami with some Cuban partners, but the business did not work. A short time later, Julio Iglesias broke his contract with Columbia and joined CBS.

Several labels were published by Columbia firm. Some records were launched since the forties under Decca label on wide groove. In the fifties, also at 78 rpm, the company introduced his own label, Alhambra. At the same time, but now on microgroove records, some music was issued under the French label Barclay, the Italian Durium and the British London. In 1964 some records at 45 rpm began to be published under Iberia label, trademark that Juan had registered in April 1936 under the number 108118 to "distinguish phonograph records" and under the number 25121 for records and other products in Venezuela in 1951.

On May 20th 1957, short time before the death of Juan Inurrieta, the factory of Columbia records moved its head office to Madrid and it was registered at the Registry of Commerce there on November 12th of that year, although the factory in San Sebastian still continued until the early seventies. In March 1963, the Secretary of the Board, A. Ibarra, announced that the corporation “Fábrica de Discos Columbia SA”, which had taken up residence in the capital, at 26 Del Barco Street until then, was going to move its head office to 24 Libertad Street, by resolution of its shareholders.

After the closure of the factory in San Sebastian, when Columbia finally moved to Madrid, Enrique reached an agreement with Philips to manufacture records from the masters that Enrique would provide them. They are the ones published under Fonogram label.

Enrique continued travelling to London for many years, where he witnessed a great deal of recordings for Decca, including recordings by The Rolling Stones, and where he kept great friends. As late as the seventies the factory of Columbia Records distributed the record releases of the British company into the Spanish market.

On January 18th 1972, Enrique Inurrieta founded "Eurosonic" in Madrid, for which he was the Chairman of the Board.

In 1984 RCA absorbed Columbia, SA. The sale was carried out by his brother-in-law, Thomas Toral.

1. Juan Inurrieta passed away on June 9th 1958 (Ritmo n. 295, June 1958)


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