Rafael Ibarbia

Born: 1931, Barcelona (Spain)
Died: January 13th, 2003, Madrid (Spain)
Nationality: Spanish

Rafael Ibarbia (full name: Rafael de Ibarbia Serra) was a pianist and conductor for many TVE (Spanish television) programmes. He also worked as a musical director for numerous music festivals, amongst which Benidorm, OTI, and even the Portuguese Eurovision heats – albeit only once (1974).

Rafael Ibarbia conducted five Spanish Eurovision entries, the first ones being ‘Algo prodigioso’ (sung by José Guardiola in 1963) and the quite spectacular ballad ‘Yo soy aquel’ (by Rafael Martos in 1966). In 1968, Ibarbia was part of the Spanish team which won first prize in the Eurovision Song Contest in London: Massiel’s ‘La la la’ (co-written by Ramón Arcusa) surprisingly beat home favourite Cliff Richard by one single point. Shortly before the festival, Ibarbia had reworked the original arrangement to make sure the music would sound even more up-beat than that of the record version. After this, Ibarbia had to wait six years before climbing the Eurovision stage again: in 1974, the arranger and conductor of Peret’s ‘Canta y se feliz’, Juan Carlos Calderón, had fallen ill, upon which Ibarbia was flown in to substitute him. Rafael Ibarbia made his last Eurovision appearance in 1977, when he led the orchestra for Mickey and his entry ‘Enseñame a cantar’. It is a striking coincidence that four of Ibarbia’s five participations in the contest took place in the United Kingdom.

In due course, a more extensive biography of Rafael Ibarbia will be published on this website


Songs conducted
1963: Algo prodigioso
1964: Caracola
1966: Yo soy aquél
1968: La, la, la
1974: Canta y se feliz
1977: Enséñame a cantar