Valen Letemendi Echevarria

1955 -Valen Letemendi - JUHC - Book 29 -00334

Valen was born on Sept. 12, 1934 in Boise, Idaho to grandparents born in Gernika and Leketio. She loved music and learned to play the accordion at fifteen. Raised for most of her adolescent years in her grandparents boarding house. Valen often entertained her family and the boarders. Her music was an integral part of social gatherings. When she was 14, Valen was allowed to accompany her parents to several other boarding houses, and she recalled the fun she had.  There was always accordion and tambourine music played at this centers.  John Arregui played the saxophone, and other musicians played at the boarding houses from the 1940s on through the 1950s.  She remembers an Italian accordionist named John (Ginansio) who could play the jota as well as any Basque.  The boarding houses would clear their dining halls and fix delicious Basque food for the dancers, and drinks would be served.  They played a lot of jotas, pasa dobles, waltzes, and a few modern dances.

When Jay Hormaechea began teaching Basque dancing, Valen took lessons from her, as well as playing for the dancers.

She was one of the primary musicians for the Music Week production of "Song of the Basque" in 1949 and played for other community events. That event was a resounding success, with an auditorium filled to capacity.  Valen played the accordion and danced the Jota and Porrusalda with a group of young Basque women for that program.

Valen passed away on Oct. 17. 1986 in Elko, NV at the age of 52.

Song of the Basque, original music album. The Allied Record Mfg. Company of Los Angeles, California.

1943 - Left to right Musicians: Valen Letemendi, Domingo Ansotegui, Jose Anacabe, Angela Bicandi. - JUHC - Bk #1 - 00470.

1940s -Angela Bicandi & Valen Letemendi - JUHC - Bk 42 -00176

Text by Eneko Tuduri.

Audio Recording: 
La Jota, 1.