Javier Rodrigo |
Pamplona (EFE) Navarro is not in what was believed to be his coffin.
With great expectation, the mayor of Tudela, Alejandro Toquero, the forensic anthropologist Paco Etxeberría, the great-grandson of the musician, also called Joaquín Gaztambide, and the head of the municipal archive, Beatriz Pérez, have attended the extraction of his niche from the brass coffin attributed to the composer and the opening of it.
“I have to report that Joaquín Gaztambide is not where we thought he was,” the mayor of Tudela told the media.
The DNA tests to which Gaztambide’s great-grandson had lent himself will not be needed. Anthropologists have immediately confirmed that the body lying in the coffin was that of a woman, who was in fact buried next to red high-heeled shoes.
Several transfers and a big surprise
Something has gone wrong in this story. Joaquín Gaztambide, prolific author of zarzuelas, died in 1870 in Madrid, where his remains were interred in the city’s Patriarchal Cemetery. In 1921, the Tudela City Council, with the aim of building him a pantheon, managed to have his body transferred to his hometown authorized.
His farewell in Madrid was almost typical of a head of state. His body, embalmed by the Anthropological Museum, which still has his liver, paraded through the streets of the capital in a brass coffin with a glass window, visiting the most important cultural centers in the city, where he was accompanied by the main authorities of the time.
In 1921, when Gaztambide’s body was received in Tudela, as there was still no prepared grave, the coffin was deposited in the Garbayo family chapel, where it remained until 1941 when it was moved to a niche in the cemetery. In 1955 it was opened with the idea of depositing it in a projected pantheon and that was when the surprise came: inside was the body of a woman, apparently of advanced age, and red high-heeled shoes. The niche was closed again and the idea of the pantheon was forgotten.
Tudela has an “outstanding debt” with Gaztambide
Mayor Toquero has assured that this was “a historic moment for Tudela and for our land”, because the town has “an outstanding debt” with Joaquín Gaztambide, “one of the great historical names that this city has given.”
“I was hopeful that Gaztambide was in Tudela and we could build a proper mausoleum for him in his city,” acknowledged Toquero, who explained that, from now on, they are going to try to “pull the blanket” and reconstruct the chronological line. since 1921 to try to find out what happened to the composer’s body.
The investigation will begin in the Garbayo chapel, in Tudela, where Gaztambide’s body was temporarily kept and, if no results are obtained, steps will be taken in Madrid, in the old Patriarchal cemetery, and in the Almudena Cathedral, to which in 1924 the remains of the composer’s wife and two of his children were taken.
“We are going to work calmly and with temperance”, said Toquero, who has acknowledged that he feels a certain disappointment, because “Tudela needs to close this stage” and “close this circle and this story and honor Gaztambide as he deserves”.
The great-grandson: “this is a roller coaster”
Joaquín Gaztambide, the great-grandson of the Navarrese musician, regretted that “there has been no luck in this first attempt” to locate his great-grandfather, but he is sure that in the future “it will be possible to contribute data to the history of music in Spain.”
“This is like a roller coaster, because, when we have seen the box, we have been excited, because we have said that it corresponded to the style of the time in which the transfer” of the body of his ancestor took place, although at some point there was ” a misstep” and the remains disappeared.
Gaztambide has not dared to venture a hypothesis about what happened, because that was “a turbulent time” in Spain and the family preserves an “oral tradition” about his great-grandfather, but no written documents about him.
Where is Gaztambide’s body?
The municipal archivist of Tudela, Beatriz Pérez, has commented in this regard that from now on “we will go back to see if we can locate” Gaztambide and “where there was an error” that caused the disappearance of the body.
Madrid and Tudela, he pointed out, are the two cities in which investigations are going to be carried out to try to provide an answer to the question that many are asking at this time: Where is Gaztambide’s body?