Espíritu Tico

Set of variations for euphonium and piano based on Patriótica Costarricense, a song by Costa Rican composer Manuel María Gutiérrez Flores considered by many to be the second national anthem of that country. Opens with a tango section inspired by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzola, follows with a verbatim statement of the hymn, and closes with an up-tempo Latin dance.

Euphonium and Piano | Grade 5 | 8:00

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About the piece​

Espíritu Tico was written for a classmate, Gerardo Leon, while the two of us were studying at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Gerardo was a great mentor to me during this time, as I had just switched to euphonium from trumpet. He asked if I would write a piece for his senior recital, to which I happily agreed. Originally from Costa Rica, Gerardo wanted something unique that reminded him of home. He asked if I could incorporate the song Patriótica Costarricense, a beloved hymn considered by many Costa Ricans to be their second national anthem. Gerardo is also a big fan of the music of Astor Piazzola, the noted Argentinian composer most famous for his contributions to the tango genre. My secondary goal was to display some of his influence throughout the piece. The result is something that is tremendously fun to play and hear (reflective of Gerardo’s spirit) while also paying reverent tribute to its source material.

As a whole, the piece is a set of variations on Patriótica Costarricense. The opening is heavily disguised in the form of a Piazzolan tango, where the melody is rhythmically offset and cast in a minor key. The tango repeats in major before giving way to the centerpiece of the work: a near-verbatim statement of the hymn, underscored by an ethereal texture in the piano. Some transitory material sets up a euphonium cadenza, which itself leads directly to the work’s finale, a celebratory up-tempo dance.

A tico (or tica) is a nickname for a Costa Rican, used by Costa Ricans and outsiders alike. The term came about because of the frequent use of -tico (or -tica) as an affectionate diminutive suffix within that country. Take the word “brother” (hermano), for example. In most Spanish-speaking areas, “little brother” is rendered hermanito, while in Costa Rica it becomes hermanitico. In English, the title of this piece means, “The Tico Spirit”.