"Benito Lertxundi was born in Orio (Gipuzkoa) 6th January, 1942 on The Wise Men's day. He is the eldest of 9 brothers and sisters from a large, modest family.
His family was not traditionally musical although they did enjoy singing on special occasions. Benito himself showed a greater interest in drawing rather than music, although he remembers how he liked listening to the local organist secretly and in silence. He didn't like the official teaching of the times, with an imposed language which was not his mother tongue. Once he had finished school he studied at the Fine Art's School of the Franciscans in Zarautz. He learnt to model clay and wood; he won several awards and he obtained his first job as a wood carver.
When he was 19 he began to work in Martin Lizaso's watchmaker's shop, where he learnt to repair watches and made a crucial discovery. One day Lizaso brought him an old lute and Lertxundi started tuning and playing it in his own way. He enjoyed the experience, the following step was to buy an electric guitar. He practiced in the watchmaker's shop, before it opened, in the afternoon, making Basque versions of his favourite musical groups and singers: The Shadows, Cliff Richards, Elvis Presley…
Benito with Mikel Laboa (1970)
However, his inclination towards music was not done in public until he entered a singing contest organised by a newspaper from San Sebastian called La Voz de España. He was one more out of the 400 or 500 contestants who went to The Bellas Artes Theatre, but he was chosen the winner and since then things began to change: he became famous in his village… and he received a call from Mikel Laboa.
Towards 1965 the Ez Dok Amairu movement was beginning, with artists such as, The Artza Brothers, Jose Angel Irigarai, Lourdes Iriondo, Xabier Lete, Julen Lekuona, Laboa himself… Oteiza's influence, during that great momentum which tried to renovate Basque Art and make society aware of it. Ez Dok Amairu happened to be a magnificent place to experiment and learn, and despite it breaking up in 1972, it had already made a mark and impression on Benito.
In 1971 his first long play record with his name as the title was published: Benito Lertxundi. Actually, it was a collection of his first singles: his first love and fight songs, which he sang with the guitar as his only aid, combining popular themes which had already been written, despite the fact that nowadays we could think he was musically naive."
Oro laño mee batek…, his first long piece of work, from 1974. Still continuing on a simple musical line, he is more mature and creative, an omen of his future production. On top of Lizardi´s poems it is also worth pointing out songs that are still in our group memory, such as the dance Herri Behera or Txori txikia, based on one of Artze´s poems.
In 1975 sees the light Eta maita herria, üken dezadan plazera, as well as being really successful, becomes an important record: Already we have the overwhelm of Zuberoa, The Navarra on both sides of the border and a few more unforgettable songs, such as Atharratze, Jaun Baruak, Maria Solt… He manages to portray a spiritual world, almost magical, full of classical beauty.
In 1977 he publishes the double record Zuberoa / Askatasunaren semeei, which we may consider a declaration of love and an honour to Zuberoa; on the other side, the use of old and native instruments points out the popular suletine atmosphere. We also have to mention that Lertxundi is surrounded by a good musical group as well as by Brittany and the Celtic world.
In 1981 another double record is published: Altabizkar / Itzaltzuko Bardoari. Using the battle of Roncesvalles as a basis, Benito takes up again the leftovers of the Basque epic and gives them special treatment: long songs, instrumental atmosphere. .., Matalaz and Muñagorri are part of that epic depth. On the second part, the story written by Arturo Kanpion stands out, although we cannot forget such charming themes as Oi ama Euskal Herri or Nere herriko neskatxa maite.
Gaueko ele ixilen baladak, published in 1985, is a personal search and investigation to formulate and express his personal philosophy. They are songs of deep meaning, with texts full of symbolism, such as the song which is the title to the record or other songs: Ni Olentzero naiz, Gaua eta ni… The Italian pianist, Antonio Breschi´s collaboration was also important.
In 1987 Mauleko bidean… izatearen mugagabean, was published. On the one hand, he studies in depth old subjects such as Zuberoa or the Irish music, when he imagines he finds the Gaelic musician O'Carolan on the way to Maule. On the other hand, this record is also a search for something new, as seen in the arrangements, with the use of synthesizers and percussion. We cannot forget his marked tendency for transcendence.
Finally, Pazko gaierdi ondua, from 1989, is the last record before the compilation. Lertxundi goes back to traditional themes without forgetting the demands of the most current sounds. Themes that already belonged to his repertory in the concerts, but not recorded until now, as Primaderako liliak.
In 1993, with more than two decades in the world of music, he publishes a compilation with the title Hunkidura Kuttunak; 2 double albums, with 46 songs, where part of them were updated.
7 years after his last album, in 1996 Hitaz Oroit is published. A record with words by Urbeltz, Xalbador, P. Ramirez and Lertxundi himself. Three songs are to be mentioned in Aingeru Irigarai y Martín Irizar´s memory. His group components are mainly those from his previous records, and who will also join in his following concerts and publications. We therefore consider appropiate to give their names: Olatz Zugasti, Fernando Ederra, Angel Unzu, Pello Ramirez, Joxe Mari Irastorza, Kutxo Otxoa de Eribe, Pello Gereño, Pello Irizar, Oihana Alkorta, Luis Camino.
"In 1998 The Kilometroak 98 organization in Tolosa managed to get the three together (Benito Lertxundi, The Basque Symphonic Orchestra and Enrique Ugarte) to fulfill a curious and interesting project, that is, E. Ugarte arranged Benito Lertxundi´s songs for the Basque Symphonic Orchestra to interpretate, there you go. The project's result first performance was 17th April 1998 in The Leidor a cinema in Tolosa, with The Basque Symphonic Orchestra playing, Benito Lertxundi singing and Enrique Ugarte himself conducting the concert. The success of this performance was the reason for the creation of this new record.
In this record B. Lertxundi offers a known and close voice, full of sensitivity, having found in these songs that were turned into classic songs a musical support as traditional as eternal. In this way, the essence of these songs is ample, free and renovated, making the most vital spirits flourish and drawing the most colourful fantasies in the listeners' imagination: Auhen Sinfonikoa from the heart itself of The Basque Country."
In 2002 he published his last record up until now called Nere Ekialdean. "In this record a sentiment which is as lyrical and esthetic as intimate is portrayed, which leaves a silver trail suggesting melodies and immortal thoughts (…). Nere Ekialdean is, with no doubt, his mostly worked and elaborate record. As well as the proper repertory's value, the richness in the arrangements and the final music strengthen and multiply the communicative capacity of the songs, showing the author's artistic maturity. "
"The year 2005 will remain an important and significant year in the professional history of Benito Lertxundi. This is demonstrated by the number of events and activities carried out. Chronologically, these are the events: remastered and carefully reissued of the first 9 albums; the concerts offered in Tolosa, Iruña and Gernika for the recording of their new live album, and their publication with the representative title of 40 urtez ikasten egonak (40 years of learning).
It is also worth noting another fact, which is equally significant: the publication in Basque and Spanish of his first biography.
In 2008, Itsas ulu zolia, album consisting of 10 songs, the last three with reference to the sea and among them Mirotzak, a tribute to the rowing club of his town ,penter. Between silence and solitude, it reflects his close relationship with the inner world of the listener.
In 2012 he published Oroimenaren oraina. The work, made up of introspective songs, collects the words of the Portuguese poet Pessoa, as well as those of Pako Aristi, Jon Maia, Olatz Zugasti, José Ramón Uriarte. This album, like the forerunners, was presented to the public in concert in the most important venues in the Basque Country, such as the Kursaal auditorium in San Sebastián, Arriaga in Bilbao, Baluarte in Pamplona, La Gare du Midi in Biarritz etc ...
Ospakizun gauean is his latest album made up of ten songs, performed together with the musicians who accompany him live *. First album by the newly created KANTAITA ENEA label.
Songs that speak of the need to unlearn so that instinct can flourish or that appeal to the liberating spirit of the subject people, while involving us in the imaginary of poets such as Jorge Bucay and Fernando Pessoa. He also wanted to share a song that Bertsolari Jon Maia brought from the expedition to Newfoundland.
Zaria Koru Eskola under the direction of Imanol Elizasu Lasa and Alos Quartet have joined this celebration.
Recorded, mixed and mastered in the Elkar studio and produced by Benito and Olatz Zugasti