Tomás Asiaín Magaña was born in Tudela in1923, and died in the same place in 1989. He was one of the most prestigious musicians from Navarre in the second half of the 20th century, outstanding in his work as a composer and musical director of choirs and military bands.
At the age of 15 he made a debut as clarinettist with the Tudela Municipal Band, and three years later entered the General Military Academy in Zaragoza, where he completed his studies of the clarinet.
In 1943, he passed competitive exams as music-sergeant, and a year later gained a post as first fife and promotion to music-staff-sergeant.
In his new posting in Madrid, he occupied the post as a first-class musician in the Band of the Auxiliary Military Academy, and continued his advanced musical studies, specializing in harmony, counterpoint, fugue and composition, graduating with a qualification in Composition from the Conservatory of Music of Madrid.
In his youth he composed some light songs, and along with several friends created the Turia Orchestra, in which he played saxophone and clarinet. It was then that he received his first prize for composition, awarded by the newspaper "Pueblo" for his work "Bolero Para Dos". Later, influenced by the music of Falla, he composed his first important works, the "Suite de las Tres Danzas", impressionist in style being outstanding among them. This piece, written for symphony orchestra with piano and conceived for ballet had its premiere in the ninth Folk Festival of the Pyrenees.
In 1956 Asiaín entered the Corps of Military Musical Directors, with a posting in Vitoria as director of the Band of the Flanders Regiment 19. At that time he travelled all over the Basque Country, taught harmony in the Alavés Conservatory and became great friends with the composer, Jesús Guridi.
In the field of light music he won the National Pasodoble competition in 1961 with "La Ronda del Rabal", which would become very popular in Aragón, and of which he also made a version for band and tenor soloist.
That same year he was posted to Jaca, and as well as conducting the band of the Regiment of Hunters Galicia 64, he took charge of the "Schola Cantorum" of the Jaca Seminary, and organized a choir of students in the high school "Domingo Miral", with which he went on to win first prize five times in the National Competition of Polyphonic Choirs organized by the Ministry of Education and Science.
In 1962 he founded Orfeón Jacetano, and was its musical director for 19 years, harvesting numerous successes, while continuing his work as composer of music for choirs and bands. In his time in Jaca he wrote more than 25 pieces of differing styles, from the "Jota Oroel" and the "Serenata Altoaragonesa" to the Cheso "Pastós y Zagalas"; the lullaby "Aduérmete" or the "Hymn of the Festival".
Pamplona was his next posting, and there he directed the band of the Mountain Division 6 from 1971. He dedicated more time to composition, and for two years worked on the recuperation of the "Misa de Sallent", and ancient mass from the Huesca Pyrenees, maintained over generations by oral transmisión, to which Asiaín added an orchestration which “respected the primitive idea whilst clothing it in current harmonies.” The work, written for choir, symphony orchestra and organ had its premiere performance in 1977 in the church in Sallent de Gállego.
From Pamplona, Asiaín collaborated in the creation of Tudela’s Conservatory "Fernando Remacha", and gave harmony classes there.
In 1983, because of his age he passed to the active military reserve with the rank of major-musical director, returning to his birthplace Tudela. There, he founded the choir "Joaquín Gaztambide" which he directed until his death in 1989. In his last years, Asiaín composed the Navarran mass "Campanas del Alba", and began anarrangement of his "Suite de las tres danzas", which he could not complete.
As a military musician, he composed various military marches, such as "Guarnición de Navarra", "Brigada de Alta Montaña" and "Oración Montañera", which were recorded by the army; the most celebrated of these is "La muerte no es el final", which was declared the official march in every the tribute to the fallen in the three forces.
His influences can be found in the Viennese classics, but also in Wagner, the French impressionists and Spaniards Chapí, Gaztambide, Falla y Remacha.
His time as choir director earned the highest accolades at national level, achieving on six occasions the national choirs prize, five of these with the high school in Jaca and the other with the high school "Navarro Villoslada" in Pamplona. In addition, three years running with the Orfeón Jacetano he won the first prize in the competition in Ejea, and various prizes in Tolosa and Torrevieja, receiving in 1974 the Conservatory of Music in Zaragoza’s award for the best choir in Aragón.
Jaca City Council awarded him the "Sueldo Jaqués" for his contribution to the northern Aragonese city, and earlier, in 1971, the state of Austria had awarded him their highest musical merit, the "Johan Strauss" medal.
The official page of the Orfeón Jacetano was created by Alejandro Bescós