Jesús Arámbarri has been classed among the cultural treasures of the region, with Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga, Jesús Guridi, Luís de Pablo, Maurice Ravel, and Pablo de Sarasate. His place in 20th-century classical music is part of a tradition which also includes Isaac Albéniz, José Antonio de Donostia, Manuel de Falla, Felipe Pedrell, Joaquín Rodrigo, Joaquín Turina, and José María Usandizaga.
After his early music education at the Bilbao Conservatory of Music, Arámbarri's teachers included Paul Le Flem, Paul Dukas and Vladimir Golschmann in Paris and Felix Weingartner in Basel.
Arámbarri composed some of his most important works while he was a student. After his return to Bilbao he was primarily a conductor and composed only a few more works, which included In memoriam for Juan Carlos de Gortázar (1939), Ofrenda (Offering) for Manuel de Falla (1946), and Dedicatoria (Dedication) for Javier Arisqueta (1949).
From 1933 in Bilbao, Arámbarri conducted the (then part-time) Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, which he developed into the first full-time civic orchestra in Spain. He also arranged musical activities throughout the country and conducted large-score choral works with Basque choirs in Northern Spain. He was a professor at the Madrid Royal Conservatory, a conductor of the Madrid Symphony Orchestra, and served as president of the Spanish Conductors' Association. In 1953, he was appointed conductor of the Banda Sinfónica de Madrid, which had been founded in 1909.
- Jesus Arambarri 8 Basque songs Itxaro Mentxaka (soprano), Bilbao SO, Juan José Mena. Naxos
- Colm Tóibín (29 April 2006). "The Art of War". The Guardian.
As a mountainous region, it is of course rich in folk song and, as a society that has been deeply Catholic, its religious and choral heritage is strong. But… [i]t is possible to listen to the music of many Basque composers, both contemporary and classical, and feel that the influence of the outside world has been paramount. Of all the features of the Basque country, this tradition is the most hidden and, in some ways, the most typical. It has been hard perhaps to publicise such cultural treasures as Arriaga, Pablo Sarasate, Jesús Guridi, Jesús Arámbarri, Luís de Pablo or indeed Maurice Ravel in the musical world while the Eta campaign held the headlines.
- Raymond Calcraft. "Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre (1901-1999) Marquis of Jardines de Aranjuez". Joaquín Rodrigo website. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27.
In the class of Paul Dukas, where Joaquín Rodrigo studied for five years, there were also the Mexican composer, Manuel Ponce, and the Basque conductor, Jesús Arámbarri, who would later become a great interpreter of the works of Rodrigo.
- "Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)". MusicWeb International. Archived from the original on 2015-03-23.
Like his compatriots, Jesus Guridi (1886-1961) [and] Jesus Arambarri (1902-1960), Rodrigo studied in Paris with Paul Dukas. Joaquin Turina (1882-1949) was another who came under the all-pervasive French influence of the 1920s and 1930s.
- Naxos Records. "Biography of Jesús Arámbarri".
- Chester Novello. "Biography of Jesús Arámbarri".
- MDT Classics (2003). "Notes on Naxos CD 8557255". ARAMBARRI: 8 Basque Songs / In Memoriam / Spanish Fantasy. Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, conductor Juan José Mena, soprano Itxaro Mentxaka. Archived from the original on 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
His small compositional output bears the hallmarks of a highly talented creative mind. Some of his most important works date from his student years: the Four Impromptus, the orchestral prelude Gabon-zar sorginak (Witches on New Year’s Eve) and the Eight Basque Songs for soprano and orchestra.(ASIN B00009L4W4)
- Santiago Gorostiza and Susannah Howe. "(Review)". Naxos Records.
A sense of pent-up emotion is woven through the tributes to Manuel de Falla—Ofrenda (Offering)—and Juan Carlos de Gortazar—In memoriam. The former, written one day and first performed the next, borrows the rhythm of the farruca from the older composer's Three-Cornered Hat, over which the sorrowful voice of the cor anglais gradually unfolds a tune that develops motifs taken from Falla's music. The latter quotes from the chorus of Guridi's Asi cantan los chicos, whose text was by Gortazar, and from the Gregorian Dies irae.(Excerpt from a much longer and very detailed review.)
- "Banda Sinfónica Historia". Madrid Municipal website (in Spanish).