Serafí Pitarra was one of Barcelona's most prolific playwrights and important theatre promoters of the 19th century and his most visible monument faces the Teatre Principal in El Pla del Teatre in the bottom section of La Rambla, known as La Rambla de Santa Mònica.
Pitarra was born as Frederic Soler i Hubert on Carrer de Cremat Gran behind what is now the Picasso Museum in La Ribera neighbourhood on October 9th 1839 and wrote under a number of pseudonyms, including Jaume Giralt, Simón Oller, Miguel Fernández de Soto and Enric Carreras.
He was the son of watchmaker, Carles Hubert, and began performing and writing plays as an amateur at the age of 15. One of his early satirical plays, Don Jaume el Conqueridor, attracted attention and his father's watchmaker's shop on Carrer Avinyó soon became a meeting place for young intellectuals of the day, such as Anselm Clavé, Valentí Almirall, Víctor Balaguer, Feliu i Codina and José Zorilla.
Pitarra's first major success was L'esquella de la Torratxa, with music by Joan Sariols, which was premiered at the Teatre Odeon and so began a successful career as one of the most prolific and popular playwrights in Barcelona.
Pitarra's early works were mainly parodies and satire but from 1866 onwards his writing became more serious and he also became more conservative opposing the First Spanish Republic of 1873 to 1874 and advocating the restoration of the monarchy.
Serafí Pitarra also wrote poetry and won the Jocs Florals on three occasions. In 1875 he was invested as Mestre del Gai Saber, the highest honour, and in 1882, he presided the Jocs Florals.
The first few lines of one of Pitarra's best known poems is next to the eternal flame in El Fossar de les Moreres behind the church of Santa Maria del Mar and is dedicated to the dead of the Siege of Barcelona of 1714.
Al fossar de les moreres
no s'hi enterra cap traïdor;
fins perdent nostres banderes
serà l'urna de l'honor.
In the fossar de les moreres
no traitor is buried
even having lost our flags
it will be the urn of honour.
At the Universal Exhibition of 1888 he received the award of the Real Academia de la Lengua from Queen Maria Cristina and the last few years of his life were to some extent marked by his rivalry with one of Catalonia's other great 19th century playwrights Àngel Guimerà.
Frederic Soler died of a heart attack on July 4th 1895 at the age of only 55 and he was initially buried in the same pantheon as Josep Anselm Clavé in the Cemetery of Poblenou but since the 1960s, his body has had its own tomb in the Cemetery of Montjuïc.
Thanks to popular donations, a statue of Frederic Soler or Serfí Pitarra by the sculptor Agustí Querol was erected in Pla del Teatre opposite the Teatre Principal in 1907 and there is a portrait of him in the Galeria de Catalans Il·lustres in the Ajuntament de Barcelona.
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