A student of Rubla at Tudela Cathedral, Gaztambide eventually studied piano at the Madrid Conservatory with Albeniz and composition with Carnicer. In 1848 he was appointed the director of the Spanish Theatre in Madrid where he presented his first zarzuela (musical drama) "La mensajera". His capabilities brought him the opportunity to conduct the first Spanish production of Meyerbeer's opera "Le prophete" and the first presentation in Spain of any of Wagner's music, the overture to "Tannhauser." "Catalina" was his most successful zarzuela of which their were forty four. He went on a tour of Havana and South America with "Catalin" where it achieved success in Mexico. The only instrumental piece known to have been composed by Gaztambide was a symphony.
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