The SGAE searches for and captures the rights of the authors purged after the Civil War


“All musicians residing in Madrid and belonging to the sectors of teachers, conductors, pianists and orchestra teachers are made aware of the unavoidable obligation in which they are to formalize the timely purification affidavit, an essential requirement to exercise their activity professional”. The note was published in a newspaper shortly after the Spanish Civil War. It was a warning to all those artists who, with the arrival of the Franco regime, wanted to continue charging for their rights: they had to go through the so-called purification commission.

The court that was entrusted with the purging of authors was also that of journalists or intellectuals: its name was the special press court, whose highest representative was Manuel Martínez Gargallo. He went from comedian to investigating judge of this body and was responsible for judging, among others, the poet Miguel Hernández.

Therefore, to clarify what happened to the Spanish authors and the SGAE between 1931 and 1945, the entity has launched an investigation taking as a starting point the 8 volumes of minutes that remain from this period. The problem, as the president of the entity, Antonio Onetti adds, is that many of these documents have been seized and others have been destroyed, which makes it even more difficult to fill those historical gaps.

“Many of the authors who appear as purified in the minutes, who depend on that press court, are unknown to most of us and it is difficult to keep track of them. Some lack heirs and their repertoires and works do not have great relevance. there are exceptional cases such as that of the composer Pablo Sorozábal, who wrote his memoirs, “the SGAE manager said at a press conference.



As with Spain, the entity in charge of ensuring rights was also divided between the rebellious side and the Republican. In fact, in the middle of the Civil War, two SGAE even came to coincide with all the confusion that derives from it. “A parallel SGAE is articulated in A Coruña [por el bando franquista] despite the fact that the legitimate one was the one in Madrid. Each one collected in their geographical area, so they were limited in the time to distribute and receive the rights money, “says Onetti.

With the arrival of the Franco regime, the authorities that incorporated that secondary SGAE joined the central headquarters, creating in turn statutes that end with the federation style that previously characterized the entity. It is then when the Falange was in charge of the purification to, among other things, eliminate what was contrary to the dictatorship. At the moment, according to the president of the society, they have found “more than 40 or 50” purified authors.

The reprisals for these creators were varied and depended on each particular case. The court could decide to freeze the author’s accounts, so that he would not receive any payment from that moment, or end up condemning him to jail after passing through the National Court of Political Responsibilities. Others, on the other hand, as was the case of the aforementioned Pablo Sorozábal, were disqualified from holding positions within the entity. “These punishments are lifted later, what we do not know is exactly when. Nor do we know if that money was reintegrated or not,” says the president.



At the moment this research is in a very early stage and, despite the fact that some purified authors have already been identified, Onetti points out that he cannot give their names for legal reasons. “Although the Data Protection Law is extinguished with death, the right to honor does not. So, for any communication from an author who has been retaliated or accused of having betrayed another, it is necessary to ask the family first, since they have the right to preserve it, “he argues.

At the moment they are trying to collect all the documentation available in the entity and, once they finish with the internal possibilities, the intention is to go to other external archival or historical memory institutions to continue the process. In addition, there is a fundamental avenue of investigation: descendants. “We have discovered that those who usually have this documentation are the heirs of the authors who were purged. We would like those relatives of creators who were retaliated and who have documentation to share it, because in some way everything should lead to clarifying that chapter that forms part of the history of the culture of this country “, Onetti concludes on a work of the restoration of a forgotten memory that, it seems, has only just begun.

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