Home » Jazz News » Education


200 Jazz Compositions Inspired By Don Quixote As Research Identifies

200 Jazz Compositions Inspired By Don Quixote As Research Identifies

Sign in to view read count
In its December 2022 issue, the academic journal Anales Cervantinos, edited by the Spanish National Research Council CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), includes an article that reveals the formidable influence that Miguel de Cervantes's masterpiece Don Quixote has had in jazz history.

In the study entitled “Don Quixote's Adventures in the World of Jazz: 200 Examples and a Few Remarks“, Comparative Literature scholar Hans Christian Hagedorn of the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain) shows that the musical influence of Cervantes' novel is not limited to classical music, opera and ballet, but that it is also seen in popular music, especially in jazz.

Completed over the past six years, this comprehensive investigation collects 200 jazz compositions from a total of 39 countries, of which the US is most highly represented, with 56 examples, followed by France (26), Great Britain (22), Germany (18), Brazil (15), Italy (14), and Canada (11). One of Hagedorn's most striking findings is the fact that in Spanish jazz, on the contrary, only eight pieces inspired by the masterpiece of Spanish Golden Age literature have been identified.

Apart from the large number of examples, the study reveals other surprising data such as the great presence of Don Quixote in contemporary jazz, with 66 percent of the compositions having been produced in the 21st century, compared to 34 percent corresponding to the 20th century.

Among the composers mentioned in this work are great names in the genre such as Egberto Gismonti, Tom Harrell, Krzysztof Komeda, Michel Legrand, Vince Mendoza, or Kenny Wheeler. On the other hand, the list of musicians who participated in the recordings of these pieces features famous jazz artists such as Bill Evans, Art Farmer, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Wynton Marsalis, Charles Mingus, Oscar Peterson, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Tomasz Stańko and Sonny Stitt, among many others.

Another of the study's most notable findings is the surprising number of jazz suites based on the Spanish novel, ranging from Kenny Wheeler's “Windmill Tilter" (1969) and Mitsuaki Kanno's “A Song of Don Quixote" (1981) to “Don Quijote" (2004) by Roberto Nannetti, “Adventures of a Quixotic Character" (on the album Trip, 2014) by Tom Harrell, “Folli e folletti" (2018) by Simona Colonna, or “Don Quixote—Il cavaliere dalla triste figura" (2018) by Stefano Corradi. Finally, the study recovers great compositions that remain unrecorded and had fallen into oblivion, such as Jean Rivier's “Ouverture pour un Don Quichotte" (1929) and Ron Westray's “Chivalrous Misdemeanors" (2005).

This article significantly expands our current knowledge of the remarkable influence of the great novel of the Spanish Golden Age in the field of music, and lays the foundations for future research on the impact of literary classics in jazz.

Visit Website

For more information contact .


Spotify Playlist




Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.