Miguel Hernández & Lan Adomian’s “Las puertas de Madrid”


A lady of Madrid in a manifestation at Génova street, in November 37; photo by Julio Granell (Archives of the Spanish Comunist Party)Maybe it was circa 1937, when the fascist rebel army, commanded from north by general Emilio Mola, threatened Madrid, Spanish Republic’s capital; and perhaps it was a little before November of that year, when the nazi air force bombed over the town, its population and its monuments, when poet and soldier Miguel Hernández and the International Brigadist of the Lincol Batallion Lan Adomian, made a couple of songs to be sung by the people: they were “La guerra, madre” (The war, mother) and “Las Puertas de Madrid”, that is our song of today. These songs were compiled in some publications of war and, eventually, in Carlos Palacio’s compilation Colección de Canciones de Lucha (Struggle Songs collection), in february 1939. This was Palacio’s note about “Newyorker composser Lan Adomian”:

“… maker of many people songs, in which he had put his art at the service of the most noble and progresist causes. Fighter of the International Brigades, he had fought at the fronts of Madrid, leting us, as he get back to his land, some such beutiful songs, writen in September 1938. (Carlos Palacio, "Colección de Canciones de Lucha", Febrero 1939)”

http://www.altavozdelfrente.org/index.php/canciones/63-las-puertas-de-madrid (translation is mine)

So this was a very beautiful song, make for the People, to give them the breath necessary for resist:

Las Puertas de Madrid

Las puertas son del cielo,
las puertas de Madrid.
Cerradas por el pueblo
nadie las puede abrir.
Cerradas por el pueblo
nadie las puede abrir.

El pueblo está en las puertas
[Alt. El pueblo está en la calle]
como una hiriente llave,
la tierra a la cintura
y a un lado el Manzanares;
la tierra a la cintura
y a un lado el Manzanares.

¡Ay río Manzanares,
sin otro manzanar
que un pueblo que te hace
tan grande como el mar!
Que un pueblo que te hace
tan grande como el mar.

The Gates of Madrid

The gates are of Heaven (1) [Alt. The gates are of sky],/ the gates of Madrid./ Closed by the people/ nobody cant’t open them./ Closed by the people/ nobody cant’t open them.// People is at the gates [Alt. People is at the street]/ as a wounding key,/ soil in their waist/ and aside the Manzanares (2);/ soil in their waist/ and aside the Manzanares.// Oh Manzanares river,/ without any other apple orchard (3)/ that a people that makes you/ as big as the sea!// That a people that makes you/ as big as the sea!

Text by Miguel Hernández

Music by Lan Adomian

(1) It seems to mean “heaven”; but by the use in small letter might be interpreted as “sky”.

(2) The Manzanares river was a important line of defense: in some moments of the war, was the watershed among the loyalist army and the fascist.

(3) Untranslatable game of words: Manzanares means “Apple orchards”. 

A more contemporary version, by punk band Delincuencia Sonora:

Biographic Note of Lan Adomian from “¡ALBA!”:

lanadomianLan Adomian, the son of a Jewish cantor, studied classical music before volunteering to serve in the Spanish war. While recuperating from injuries, he composed a cycle of songs to accompany the words of the Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez. After returning from Spain, he wrote several symphonic works that dealt with Spanish themes. During the anti-communist crusade of the 1950s, Adomian chose self-exile in Mexico, where he continued his musical composition. Many of his works addressed Jewish themes, including The Ballad of Terezin, a cantata that was inspired by the poem "The Butterfly" written by a child victim of the Nazis. He also wrote The Forest of Martyrs, dedicated to the Jewish people killed in the holocaust; Israel, an orchestral piece first performed by the St. Louis Symphony; and Kodesh-Kodoshim, a cantata with a Hebrew text.

http://www.alba-valb.org/volunteers/lan-adomian

Another Spanish war and revolution songs of Adomian are, with Miguel Hernández, “La guerra, madre”, and with Pascual Pla y Beltrán “Todos camaradas” (All we are comrades) and “Madrid y su heroico defensor” (Madrid and his heroic defensor), dedicated to general José Miaja.

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