Gustavo Pascual Falcó was born in Cocentaina (Alicante) on May 6, 1909. His parents were José Pascual Martí and Patrocinio Falcó Ferrer. He was the last child of the marriage and the third in chronological order, after Patrocinio and José.
His father had a certain level of education (considering the average of the time) as he could read and write correctly. This instructive environment was passed on to his children, and Gustavo pursued basic primary studies that would aid in his later musical formation. From a young age, Gustavo was a sickly child with delicate health. This anomalous condition would mark the rest of his life. He had an introverted character, quite serious and full of responsibility.

There was some musical atmosphere in his family, as his father was president of the rondalla “La Paloma”. But in Gustavo’s case, his passion for music was something that emerged from within himself, what some call a vocation.
From a young age, he attended solfège classes. His first teacher was Antonio Pérez, father of Enrique Pérez Margarit, who would also become a teacher and great friend of Gustavo.
Having started in the first musical steps, he had to choose an instrument to start his practices: the clarinet, of which he would become a virtuoso instrumentalist.
At the age of 10, he was already playing in the municipal band of his town and at 14 years old, he mastered this instrument to such an extent that he was already a clarinet soloist. It was amusing to see such a small child play so well. It seemed that the instrument could overpower him, when in reality it was quite the opposite. For him, there were no mechanical secrets, he had great digital agility, sonority, and clean execution.

Being a person of weak and sickly health, his parents did not allow him to leave Cocentaina to pursue musical studies. This is one of the things that most marks Gustavo’s life, because if the ingenuity he already possessed had been given an adequate musical education, we can affirm with certainty that his compositions would have increased in number, he would have started composing at an earlier age, and his technique would have been more refined

But it was not so, the young clarinetist continued studying music while he entered as a worker in the town’s shoe factory as a leather cutter, a distinguished profession of the time as only those who enjoyed a certain manual and artistic disposition could practice it. He started as an apprentice in his trade and in his musical career, but it didn’t take long for him to excel in both.

When he was not yet 13 years old, he met Consuelito, his future wife. Consuelo Pérez Molina, was born on September 3, 1906 in Cocentaina. She is the youngest of 3 siblings, Francisca and Francisco. Her parents made and sold chocolate, along with coffee, sugar, and spices. They were popularly known by the nickname of Chocolateros.

Time goes by and the teenager becomes an adult. He continues in his same profession, but changes factories.

Music continues to be his great passion, above his illness (he never misses band rehearsals). He was not content to execute the pieces of the repertoire, but studied them in depth and wanted to know the technique of composition. This led him to dedicate part of his study hours to harmony. He delved into books and soon there were no secrets for him in melodies and their translation to the staff.
Gustavo did not savor the atmosphere of a conservatory, nor the competition that represents accessing a public examination, nor the bohemian and artistic environments of a capital… all that atmosphere that weighs so much in the life of a composer, but in return he knew how to live and integrate into the festivities of his town as no musician had done until then.

He attended all the performances of his band. These years represent in his life a preparation, a waiting beat, before reaching the stage of composer. His sharp musical ear, coupled with his great memory and ingenuity, meant that any melody he heard he was able to perform in full within a few minutes. He enjoyed extraordinary faculties; he knew the keys by memory, he transported at first sight the papers of flute, clarinet, oboe… the effects of any work. He had started to play the cello.

String instruments fascinated him, a good proof of this is that among his first compositions are: Vida mía (waltz) and La menina (mazurka), both performed by the rondalla.

He also played the guitar, which he used to accompany what he composed. Later he would be appointed director of the rondalla “La Paloma”, as a good connoisseur of plucked string instruments.

He did not live on music, but for and by music. Gustavo Pascual Falcó was a great lover of zarzuela, Spanish lyric authors and classical music. His obsession was the band, in 1932 the two bands of the town merged under the name “Unión Musical Contestana” and from now on a strong musical society was created, with about a thousand associates. In these years Gustavo’s family changed their address and moved to a house in Plà de la Font. It will be in this place, where the young composer, after overcoming various circumstances, will rest and dedicate himself fully to musical creation.

Juan Agulló, one of the few people interested in always keeping Gustavo’s name from being forgotten and occupying the place he deserved in the history of festive music, defined Gustavo as “a religious man of exemplary conduct, cultured and with incomparable vicissitudes: kind, cheerful, loved by all, ready for everything he was asked. He never considered himself wise, nor did he abound in self-praise, for him we were all equal within the artistic circle.”

But Gustavo’s concerns went beyond playing music in the band. He accompanied with his cello in all those religious functions in which he was allowed. His passion for music was such that he did not care about the auditorium or the setting. Thus, in the last three days of Carnival, after playing his cello in the religious services, he played in the parades.
These same concerns are what led him to play at the Modern Cinema. It was the era of silent cinema and films were set to music performed in the same cinema hall, live. Gustavo enjoyed performing alongside some colleagues, and with four other friends they formed a chamber quintet dedicated to performing at the cultural-recreational societies of the town.

Great historical changes occur in Spain in the 1930s. 1935 is a key year in Gustavo’s life. The number of performances he gives increases. His passion for music steals almost all his free time, even that which he should dedicate to rest and take care of his delicate health.
On June 7, 1935, in the early morning, his wedding with his girlfriend (for 14 years) Consuelito was celebrated. The marriage of Gustavo and Consuelito had an ingredient that united and separated them at the same time: music.

Gustavo’s knowledge in music is becoming deeper, helped by Enrique Pérez, his dedication to the band begins to bear fruit. In 1935, in the city of Dénia, a musical contest for bands is organized. The “Unión Musical Contestana” participates and Gustavo stands out and gives brilliance to the obligatory piece by performing a clarinet solo. They win the first prize.

On July 18, 1936, his daughter Carmen was born, just on the day of the military uprising.

The summer of '37 passes with some calm in Cocentaina. Gustavo enjoys the vacation days with his wife’s family. The three brothers, with their respective families, spent the summer in a little house at the foot of the Sierra Mariola. Gustavo used to listen to the war events on the radio and also listened to music, his good musical ear made him take as a habit, to transfer to ruled paper those melodies he heard on the radio.

Paquito, his brother-in-law, took the box and Gustavo the clarinet, and it was then when the ideas embodied in the staff were interpreted. The summer ends and Gustavo is called to the ranks. The new soldier moves to Alicante, where after passing the medical examination he enters the Military Hospital; where no surgical intervention or cure is practiced, only rest and solitude.

In the end, through a relative, he manages to return home, he is given as a soldier not useful but he has to stay in his house all the period that the war lasts.

At the end of the war, life returns to its normal course. Gustavo, somewhat recovered after the forced rest, resumes his work at the Riera factory.

He had already become so accustomed to having free time to devote to music, that he adopted the habit of always carrying a few sheets of ruled paper and a pencil. When inspiration came to him at work, he embodied his ideas on paper, which he would later shape. His sensitivity to rhythm was such that he was able to transform the metallic and dull noises of the machines into musical notes. The time to compose has begun.
“Paquito El Chocolatero” was nothing more than the spark that ignited a great fire within him. Gustavo’s musical personality is framed in a renewing movement, the first molds are broken. In this hopeful struggle to open paths, the name of Gustavo Pascual Falcó shines with a singular light, a composer still misunderstood by critics, but a genius for festive music.

In 1940, Gustavo and Consuelito have their second child, whom they name Gustavo. The child is born healthy and develops well, however, he dies at the age of four, filling the whole family with sorrow.

Gustavo manages to become the deputy director of the municipal band, and becomes president in 1942 of the Unión Musical Contestana. In 1943 they manage to win the first prize in the band contest organized in the neighboring town of Alcoy. Gustavo makes sporadic outings to accompany other bands with his clarinet. Meanwhile, his own inspiration led him to compose for pleasure and his compositions, first simple and tasteful, then set in our festivals, made him famous in the musical world of Contestano. There is a note that everyone agrees on: the speed with which he writes his works.

Gustavo composed several pieces in this post-war stage: pasodobles and Moorish marches. In the Moros y Cristianos festivals they are used to parade in the entrance or in the dianas. The festive pasodoble is rooted within the festival itself.
As a curious note, on the day of the premiere of Buscant un Bort, loaded with rhythm, timpani, timbalillos, bass drum and sonalla; Gustavo was disoriented because the march did not sound as he expected. He had the idea to organize the band in a different way than usual. The rhythmic part in front, accompaniment and melodies behind and finally the offbeat instruments. It was tested and gave positive results. The applause covered the composer in glory along the way. His widow remembered how people carried him home on their shoulders. This new formation of the band, his original, will persist afterwards. The work has given Gustavo the title of renovator of festive music, opening a horizon through which other composers have found new forms of expression.

He also composed two Holy Week motets:

La Dolorosa
El Nazareno

In 1944 his illness worsens and he undergoes surgery at the Clinical Hospital in Valencia. After the operation and long convalescence, he is very resentful. In 1945 is when he premieres his march Buscant un Bort, a work that will lay the foundations for a remodeling in the Moorish marches. On May 25, 1945, his son Gustavo was born, the third in chronological order and the second to live.

Gustavo thinks he should register his works with the Society of Authors, but he keeps putting it off and time goes by quickly. The composer sees his future secured with copyright, but he still does not decide to register his works. The folder, with Gustavo’s scores and notes, passed from his wife’s hands to his band’s. The consequences that this brought, after his death, were very different from what he expected.

In 1945 his colleagues, musicians and festeros, decide to pay tribute to the musician and composer. On October 21 at the Gadea theater, a concert is organized to benefit Gustavo Pascual Falcó and in which different entities and personalities from his town collaborate. The tribute brought illusion, joy and above all gratitude. Recognition of a job well done and hope to continue the same task. Gustavo received the tribute with serenity and complacency.

This act was like the goodbye to the friend, still present, who a few months later would leave forever. The tribute ensured that at least Gustavo died having tasted the sweetness of success as a composer, perhaps without imagining the transcendence that his work was going to acquire.
The disease quickly undermined him in his last days. The operation had not given the expected results. He could no longer lead a normal life.

Finally, weakened, he has to remain in bed rest. Gustavo does not leave the house but continues composing. He suffered the disease with fortitude, but he did not resign himself to die. He was too young, with a family and a little one who was just beginning to crawl. Musically, he was at the height of his career…

The only thing that comforted him was that thanks to his ingenuity, his wife and children would not go through bad economic times. In April 1946, his ailment went through a phase of severity from which he would not recover. He was conscious until the last second of his agony, keeping a ray of hope until the end. On April 17, 1946, he died at the age of 36.

For the funeral, he was dressed in a musician’s suit. The funeral took place the next day, Holy Thursday. The coffin was accompanied by his band, the “Unión Musical Contestana”, with silent instruments. His family was left heartbroken and destitute: a widow and two children in those difficult post-war days. His widow gave his music to his colleagues so that his tragic end would not be a hindrance.

Gustavo’s story is like that of any simple, normal man; but music ignites the spark of genius that man carries within.

Gustavo died, but his music will never die.
*Text extracted from the book “Gustavo Pascual Falcó, Un músico, una época, un pueblo” by Mª Dolores Insa Ribelles.