Basque music & history

I must admit that I haven’t thought about Basques in New York, even though I have a Basque-English dictionary.* But here they are, playing music, next Saturday afternoon.

Marilu Navas of the Society of Basque Studies will moderate an afternoon of Basque music with cultural and historical commentary, with the participation of Euzko Etxea—The Basque Club of New York and the Basque International Cultural Center, at 2 pm Saturday, Nov. 1, at the Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd St. It’s free with museum admission.

The history of Basque immigration to the New World begins about 200 years ago. According to A Travel Guide to Basque America, Basque navigators came to Mexico with the Spaniards, and many joined the Mexican fight for independence from Spain. The first Basques in the United States worked in California, and for decades afterward Basque communities were primarily (entirely?) in the Western states, which explains why they don’t show up on my radar of New York immigration.

*The Basque language (Euskara) is very interesting because it’s not an Indo-European language, and, in fact, according to The Languages of the World, “no connection between Basque and any other language has ever been proven.”

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3 Responses to “Basque music & history”

  1. Jennie says:

    Thanks for the info, Nancy. Where did the Basque community live in New York back then? Was there any particular profession they specialized in?

  2. Nancy Zubiri says:

    Indeed, Basque immigration to the U.S. started in California in the 1840s and 1850s because of the Gold Rush, primarily by Basques who were already in South America and could sail fairly easily up the coast. However, once the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, Basques began arriving in New York City. Their initial goal was to catch a train heading west, but many found jobs in New York and never left. In fact, the Basque community in NYC was large enough in 1905 to start a Basque association. The group formed the Centro Vasco Americano in 1905 — the first official Basque organization in the U.S. The charter was written up by young attorney Fiorello LaGuardia, who later became the mayor of New York. The history of this early Basque community in N.Y. was researched by Professor Emilia Doyaga of New York. This history is documented in my book Travel Guide to Basque America. Nancy Zubiri

  3. Cheeseblab says:

    Highly recommended: The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod and Salt and the like.