Georges Bizet
Mike Hext
£ 14.00 

The Habanera is a Cuban contradanza, a popular dance from the 19th century. It was developed from the French contradanza. It has a characteristic "habanera rhythm" and is usually performed with accompanying lyrics.

  • 1 Horn in F
  • 4 Trombones
  • 1 Tuba
  • 1 Drum Kit
  • 1 Percussion
  • Percussion section requires: Vibraphone




The Habanera is a Cuban contradanza, a popular dance from the 19th century. It was developed from the French contradanza. It has a characteristic "habanera rhythm" and is usually performed with accompanying lyrics. It was the first written music to be rhythmically based on an African motif, and the first dance music from Cuba to be exported all over the world. This fine arrangement has been taken from Bizet's opera Carmen. Bizet,who had never visited Spain, sought out appropriate ethnic material to provide an authentic Spanish flavour to his music and used genuine folksongs to utilise the rhythms and instrumentation associated with flamenco music.

Take care not to confuse the habanera with the habanero, as the habanero is a variety of extremely hot chilli pepper. Sometimes spelled (and pronounced) habañero, unripe habaneros are green, and they change colour as they ripen. Habanero chillis are so hot they are rated between 100,000–350,000 on the Scoville scale. In 2000, the habanero was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Hottest Chilli, but it has since been displaced by a number of other hotter chilli peppers, namely the Red Naga or Ghost Chilli Pepper which was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records and rated at more than 1 million Scoville units in 2007, 400 times hotter than Tabasco Sauce.

In this arrangement, trombonist Mike Hext sets-up the famous main theme, played firstly by the french horn and later the first trumpet over open vibes and cup-muted trombones before allowing the improvised solo trombone to enjoy the simple and effective chord sequence, with a hint of smoky blues.

Georges Bizet (1838–1875) was born Alexandre César Léopold Bizet in Paris, the son of Adolphe, a hairdresser and occasional songwriter. Georges was a French composer of the romantic tradition, best known for his operas. In a career cut short by a very early death, Bizet achieved few successes before his final work,Carmen, which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertory. As a student Conservatoire de Paris, Bizet won many prizes, including the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1857. He was also recognised as an outstanding pianist. Returning to Paris after almost three years studying in Italy, he found that the main Parisian opera theatres preferred the established classical repertoire to the works of newcomers. Restless for success, he began many stage projects, most of which were abandoned. Neither of his two operas during the 1860's that reached the stage at this time were successful. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, during which Bizet served in the National Guard, he once again had little success with his one-act opera Djamileh,though an orchestral suite derived from theincidental music for the play L'Arlésienne was instantly popular. The production of Bizet's final opera,Carmen, was delayed because of fears that its themes of betrayal and murder would offend audiences. After its premiere on 3 March 1875, Bizet was convinced that the work was a failure; he died of a heart attack three months later, unaware that it would prove a spectacular and enduring success.

“This is absolutely one of the finest and most creative brass ensembles in the world."

Marc Dickman
University of South Florida writing in the International Trombone Association Journal

"WOW !!!!! all of you should be locked up !!!! What great stuff - the compositions/arrangements, the playing (OUTRAGEOUS !!! ), everything is simply fantastic. (actually - i couldn't have expected anything less ! ) Many, many thanks to you and all for your superb contributions. yet again, you've managed to raise the bar! (an inch or two is ok but a few yards is really unfair !!!!!!!!!! )"

Jiggs Whigham
International Jazz Trombone Soloist, Musical Director, BBC Big Band, President International Trombone Association and Professor Hanns Eisler College of Music, Berlin

“Under the Spell of Spain is a showcase of virtuosic playing by some of London’s finest brass and percussion players. Highly recommended!”

Jon Gorrie
Founder, BrassMusician.com

“An absorbing selection of refined choices and inspirational highlights. Marvellous."

Keith Ames
The Musician (MU)

“The entire programme can be likened to a sumptuous feast, with each track having its own highly delectable and thoroughly satisfying flavour. The CD is surely compulsive listening for all brass and percussion enthusiasts.”

C Brian Buckley
Brass Band World

“Every now and again a recording that is both truly outstanding and will have great appeal to brass band listeners appears on the shelves. We are delighted to make it the first recipient of our CD of the Year Editors Award.”

Kenneth Crookston
British Bandsman
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