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By Decree 73/2001 of 24 April (Official Gazette of the Basque Country, no. 86 of 8 May 2001), The Basque Government agreed to introduce higher level music studies starting in the 2001-2002 academic year. Article 1 of this Decree establishes that “from the 2001-2002 academic year on and in compliance with the Law on the General Organization of the Educational System, Higher Music Education studies will be introduced progressively.”

On 2 May 2001, in compliance with this mandate, the Basque Government agreed to set up the Private Foundation for the Higher School of Music of the Basque Country (creation law), whose non-profitmaking aim would be to promote and encourage all initiatives and activities related with the teaching of music and they entrusted the foundation with the creation of the school of music whose headquarters would be in Donostia/San Sebastian.

The Private Foundation for the Higher School of Music of the Basque Country, Musikene, enjoys its own independent legal status and is governed according to the applicable legal regulations in particular Act 12/1994, of 17 June, from Foundations of the Basque Country and Decree 404/1994, of 18 October, which approved the working and organization Regulations of both the Protectorate and the Basque Register of Foundations.

The foundation is mostly financed by grants received from the Basque Government or Eusko Jaurlaritza as well as by the fees paid the students enrolled in the Higher School and monies received legitimately from other sources.

The Board is the Foundation’s governmental, administrative and representative body without prejudice to the power of this Board to delegate certain functions permissible by law to other Foundation bodies or personnel. In fact, the General Coordinator has been named the official representative of the Foundation and exercises many of its powers.

The entrance requirements to the Higher School of Music of the Basque Country, Musikene, are those stipulated by law for accessing higher music studies without discrimination for reasons of birth, sex, race, religion, opinion or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.

Matriculation fees for the certified academic courses at Musikene are based on a credit system commonly used for university academic services.

Musikene – Euskal Herriko goi-mailako musika ikastegia / Higher School of Music of the Basque Country

Musikene is the Higher School of Music of the Basque Country, set up by the Basque Government in the 2001-2002 academic year in order to offer a Higher Music Education. The school offers excellent instruction designed to guarantee fully qualified professionals capable of performing, composing, conducting and teaching. Bearing in mind the reality of the world of music in the 21st century, the main objective of the school is to provide students with the necessary training to guarantee a future career in music.

One of the keys aspects of the educational philosophy at Musikene is the attention to  the development of each student’s talent. With this philosophy, students at Musikene become experts in their field. Teaching is very much geared towards ensuring students attain the level that will be expected of them once they start working. To this end, Musikene has an excellent and renowned teaching staff who also have international experience as soloists or performers with the best European orchestras. The school boasts a selection of highly specialized and widely experienced teachers.

The curriculum successfully combines specialist subjects with theoretical-humanistic subjects. The latter are considered an essential and integral part of any higher education. Therefore these subjects are not conceived of as merely complementing the “core” subjects but inextricably linked to the concrete objectives of each speciality.

Together, this means that teaching at Musikene does not only train students in technical excellence but it also provides them with a solid grounding in theory and humanism. This is how students become all-round professionals capable of performing music to an excellent standard while at the same time being able to reflect upon it.

Instrumental Groups

Students at Musikene obviously receive instruction on their specialization subject but the school’s study plan also promotes participation in larger instrumental groupings which are designed to reflect the reality of the musician’s job market and to fulfil the cultural function of a third level institution. There are different options: chamber orchestras, such as the Woodwind Quintet or String Quartet; ensembles, like the Percussion Ensemble, the Saxophone Ensemble or the Brass Band.

The school also has an Orchestral Studies programme within the field of classical music, and a Big Band, specializing in jazz. The Orchestral Studies programme involves different musical groups, the most noteworthy being the Symphonic Orchestra. In addition, there are other smaller groups such as the Brass Ensemble, the Woodwind Ensemble, the Sinfonietta and the Symphonic Band.

All the musicians in these groups are Musikene students who, under the careful guidance of different teachers and conductors, enjoy a unique opportunity to gain invaluable work experience. These groups can also provide a platform from which the students may, having first undergone a very demanding selection process, launch a career as a concert soloist.

The Orchestral Studies program, started by the clarinetist and conductor José Luis Estellés in 2003, is now coordinated by the conductor and composer from Bilbao Joseba Torre, while he conducts some of the Symphonic Orchestra concerts himself as well.

The orchestral groups in Musikene have been conducted by such illustrious maestros as Pablo González, Lutz Köhler, Juanjo Mena, Salvador Mas, Manel Valdivieso, Michael Tomas, Gilles Millière and Philippe Ferro, among others. Some of the more celebrated performances include the opening concert of the 2004 edition of the Quincena Musical (Music Fortnight), at the Kursaal Auditorium in Donostia-San Sebastian; the 2005 Christmas concert which was recorded and later broadcast by the Basque TV channel EITB, and the concerts at the 2006 Granada International Festival of Music and Dance, the Zaragoza Auditorium in 2007, the Flagey Concert Hall in Brussels in 2008 and at the National Auditorium in 2008 and 2009.

The Big Band is the academic group activity for students specializing in jazz. The band is a traditional jazz band (with trumpet, trombone, saxophone and rhythm sections). The students take part in several musical encounters every year under the direction of different conductors.


Since its founding 10 years ago Musikene has become an academic reference among music students in Spain and abroad. This is reflected in the variety of places the students come from.

The level of competence of the students has been recognised through numerous prestigious awards won at the Concurso de Juventudes Musicales de España (Spain’s national competition for young musicians), The Certamen Nacional de Interpretación Intercentros (the national interschools performance competition), the Certamen Internacional de Acordeón de Arrasate (the international accordion players’ competition held in the Basque town of Arrasate) and many others.

The students at Musikene receive top quality instruction from a highly qualified and prestigious teaching staff and they enjoy and benefit from human and material resources worthy such a highly reputable school. The centre’s Multimedia Library, which contains 48.838 documents, plays a vital role in the students’ education.

Projection outside the school walls

The artistic nature of the subjects taught at Musikene means that the school necessarily takes on a socio-cultural role in the city in two main ways: firstly, by showing the public the results of what the students have learnt and secondly, by raising the school’s public profile. It seeks to fulfil this dual function by offering a wide range of activities throughout the academic year. Currently, Musikene offers around 300 performances throughout the school year including concerts by the different orchestras, participating in prestigious events and chamber music festivals as well as the concerts held at the school headquarters. Coming into contact with the public through teaching or performing is an integral part of any musician’s professional training.

Musikene is also keen to take part in joint projects with other music organizations. In June 2012 a preferential collaboration agreement with the symphonic orchestra of the Basque Country (OSE) was signed, named Aula Jordá. The school is also actively involved in the country’s most noteworthy musical events and organizations: Quincena Musical de Donostia (San Sebastian Music Fortnight), the Basque National Orchestra, the Basque Youth Orchestra (EGO in Basque language initials), The Bilbao Symphonic Orchestra, Musikaste (Basque Music Week) the Bilbao Musika-Música Festival, as well as others such as Madrid’s Juan March Foundation.

Musikene is keen to consolidate its international presence and belongs to the European Space for Higher Education. In order to fulfil this aim, the school is in permanent contact with state and international schools. It is also involved in the Erasmus programme, and belongs to the EAC (The European Association of Conservatories). The school has bilateral agreements with 37 music training institutes all over Europe including some of the most prestigious schools and encourages teachers and students to travel.

Finally, within its cultural projection role, Musikene is always open and ready to respond to needs and stimuli from the immediate social and cultural environment. The school promotes the students’ work, be it concerts or composition and research. The school has published several books and has created its own record label for this purpose.

Musikene Mail
February 2019
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