Balearic Islands: Minorca

Manel Frau


Even each one of the Balearic islands presents a remarkably different musical universe, Mallorca and Minorca’s traditions are far more intermingled than the rest of the islands. However, historic circumstances of Minorca had reshaped part of that common background.  In fact, in 1713, during the Spanish war of succession, the British occupied the island, and remained until 1756, when the French army took it. The Treaty of Paris returned Minorca to Great Britain, beginning a second domination, that would last until 1782. Minorca belonged to Spain again from 1782 through 1789, when the British army overtook the island for a third time, until the Peace of Amiens returned it to the Spanish crown.

This complex history influenced the local culture. On one hand, the persecution of the Catalan language was here considerably milder, since most of eighteenth century Spanish laws against Catalan were issued when Minorca was under British rule. Even nowadays, Minorca´s Catalan-speaking community is strong. On the other hand, the British domination left a imprint on the island’s folklore. This can be seen in the equestrian traditions linked to the festival of Saint John in Ciutadella. The little town of Es Castell (wich also has a Spanish name, Villacarlos, and a British name, Georgetown) takes pride on its Scottish dances, a symbiotic instance where stick-dancers are dressed in Scottish style, and are accompanied by the very Balearic flaviol and tambori!

Other than this quite marginal British musical influence, Minorca’s dances include mainly the same styles as those heard  in Majorca, particularly jotas and fandangos, while boleros never enjoyed significant popularity in the Minorca.

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