Born in Ontinyent (Valencia) on 21 December 1926. His father who ran a family business while playing horn in the Musical Union band, transmitted him a love of music and his first notions of music theory.
He began to study music aged nine, attending classes imparted at the Unión Musical by lecturer Benito Rodrigues. Even when young, he demonstrated great musical gifts and interests beginning as tenor horn player although he would really have hoped to be a trumpeter, but the circumstances of the time and the band’s requirements forced him to change: in 1940, he became a member of the band, then called F.E.T y de las JONS, on tenor horn, later as player of the horn, an instrument he mastered completely.
He continued his music theory studies with Miguel Asensi, then the band director, then under the Rev. Vicente Pérez-Jorge, his true musical maestro and mentor, who instructed him study of piano, harmony, counterpoint and composition, coinciding as pupil with future musicians and composers of the stature of Luis Blanes Arques, among others. His composition and instrumentation studies were recognised in the Valencia and Seville conservatories, graduating with an A grade.
His vocation as instrumentalist led him to prepare examinations for horn in the San Javier Air Academy Band in 1945. However, his father and his teacher P. Pérez-Jorge persuaded him to change his mind, thinking more of his career as future conductor of the band and music maestro in his town, something not hard for them to do given the young Ferrero’s intense localist feelings.
That same year, aged 19, he composed his first pasodoble where the link was already perceived with the city which was to mark him throughout his life: its title, Onteniente. His next composition was a small waltz dedicated to his first nephew, and entitled Tonín, composed in May 1946.
He was posted to military service in 1947 in Valencia. During this time and with the assistance of Ramón Corell, then director of the Unión Artística Musical Band, he assiduously attended rehearsals of the Valencia municipal orchestra where his initial ideas and experiences in the field of conducting began. It was at this time that he wrote the pasodobles Morell Seguí dedicated to his parents and Ricofran dedicated to his three best friends during military service.
On returning to Ontinyent, he joint the band as assistant, imparting music theory classes to pupils, work to which he attached a great deal of importance and which would ultimately be what would involved him one hundred per cent in musical society, turning down proposals from other towns to conduct various bands. Throughout his life, teaching music was at the forefront of his priorities, leading him to fight from then on to get local authorities to make a worthy space available to musical development, a concern he would uphold until the day of his death.
The sixties were the golden age of J. M. Ferrero’s musical career, along with the true acknowledgement not just of his work as director of the band but also as a composer. In 1960, he composed three pasodobles and a moorish march. One of these pasodobles, Daniel Juan, he wrote the night when his son died of an illness when just a few months old. But it was surely in 1964, with the composition of the moorish march Chimo, when he really reached his greatest success. The march almost immediately became the hymn of the fiesta of Moors and Christians, the piece most played at any festive ceremony, notably when played in unison by the various bands involved in Moor and Christian celebrations in different localities in events created specifically as a hymn.
He won first prizes at the Alcoy music festivals in 1961 with the moorish march el Berberisch, in 1965 with the moorish march el Kábila and in 1971 with the moorish march Bon Capitá. In 1966, he won a second prize with the christian march Bonus Christianus.
As an important illustration of how much J. M. Ferrero was able to connect with the public with the composition of this popular music as well as of the unquestionable quality of his works, that first prize won in 1965 with el Kabila was granted by popular vote of thos attending the competition that year, winning 910 of the 931 votes cast.
He was a pioneer in the recording for music written for the fiesta of Moors and Christians with the issue in 1960 of his first single which included only moorish marches, recorded in Madrid by the concert band conducted by maestro Ricardo Vidal. A second single followed a year later, which included two pasodobles and two moorish marches. Later, in 1970, he recorded an LP with the title “The Moors and Christians of maestro Ferrero” which included among other things his famous march Chimo, completed in 1984 with the publication of a second LP and a new single, the last of these called “Protagonists of the fiesta”.
He was fully involved in the festive atmosphere, founder in 1948 of the Mozarabes parade and subsequently in 1966 that of the Sauditas, always seeking to ennoble the music written for the fiesta of Moors and Christians while defending the status of the musical performer with the celebrants themselves. His dedication to music, both creatively and as a teacher, was always altruistic, for which he received no remuneration. His life took place between a small business making and distributing carbonated drinks, his family and music, which is why he was very highly regarded in the social sectors he moved in. At the same time he always bore the pennant of his home town, becoming its ambassador, particularly of its fiestas, absolutely everywhere, all of which led in 1967 to the award of the festival medal of merit by the Ontinyent Festival Society.
Proof of that altruism is seen that for the composition of the pasodoble Cervezas El Turia, he was able to persuade the brand to pay for the band’s new uniforms, rather than taking a fee for the score
The seventies, at his musical and personal peak, he saw his obsession with improving music education, encouraged by his former maestro P Pérez-Jorge, give its fruits in 1975 with the inauguration of the José Melchor Gomis musical centre, subsequently professional conservatory, alleviating the problem of geographical isolation, giving an entire region the option of musical apprenticeship. He had previously composed the work which marked his high point, the symphonic poem Els Morocristians d´Ontinyent in 1972, recreating the city’s conquest and its following reconquest.
He won various prizes during this decade: in Alicante, first Caja del Sureste composition prize with the moorish march Marroquíes de Petrel in 1974, and in Alcoy second prize for the pasodoble Imposibles in 1976 and the christian march Apostol Poeta in 1978.
His innovative idea about music written for the festival of Moors and Christians led him to write the moorish march OVANA for the First Congress of the fiesta of Moors and Christians held in Villena in September 1974, breaking all the existing norms for this type of composition.
Contact with the directors of the festival during this congress enabled him to join the UNDEF board as member and musical adviser in 1976, making him one of the organisers of the first centenary of festival music held in 1982, and promoter and organiser of the Second National Congress of the Moors and Christians Festival, in Ontinyent in September 1985 and of which he was Vice President.
For this second congress, among other things he organised a gala concert which premiered five symphonic compositions and a pasodoble, played by the Valencia municipal band, all on themes based on the fiesta of Moors and Christians and with the participation of composers of the stature of Bernardo Adam Ferrero, Luis Blanes, Rafael Talens, Rafael Alcaraz and Bernabé Sanchis, and at which José María Ferrero premiered his work Fantasía Muladiana.
Previously, in August 1982, the funeral march Cristo de la Agonía was premiered, dedicated to the patron saint of his home town, Ontinyent, and written for performance by its band, the Unión Artística, accompanying the saint.
José María Ferrero died in a traffic accident on 26 July 1987. The Festival Society posthumously awarded him the gold insignia on 16 August that year. In November, an extraordinary meeting of the plenum of the Ontinyent Municipal Authority named him Favourite Son. On 13 March 1988, the UNDEF awarded him the title of Celebrant of Honour with gold insignia, and on 24 November that year, the Alicante Provincial Authority conferred its gold medal on him, Similarly, the Society Unión Artística Musical, to which he had devoted his entire life, nominated him Director of Honour with golden insignia, and dedicated its school to him, naming it the José Maria Ferrero School of Music.