Spain has a colourful history of different cultures which have influenced its musical traditions. Under Roman domination until 500 AD, the trumpet was introduced. In in 711 AD, during the Middle Ages, it was invaded by the Muslim Moors from North Africa , and they ruled Spain for nearly 800 years until the capture of Granada in 1492. Ferdinand V of Aragon and Isabella of Castile then jointly ruled over a united Spain, and established a court which encouraged music in all its forms. During the renaissance Spain became a powerful colonial power, with territories covering most of Central and South America, and several very significant territories in Europe, such as Naples, Sicily, and the Netherlands.

The vihuela was an early Spanish instrument resembling a guitar, and this was replaced by the modern guitar in the baroque period. The guitar has been central to Spanish musical idiom ever since. In the classical and early romantic periods, the Zarzuela, Spanish opera, dominated the musical scene. Then the romantic style was blended with Spanish national flavours in the works of Albeniz, De Falla and Granados.

Many composers from other parts of the world were fascinated by the evocative sounds of Spanish music, and wrote their own  music using Spanish idioms and flavours. Chabrier from France wrote Espana, and  Rimsky-Korsakov from Russia wrote Capriccio Espagnole. In the 20th century Rodrigo wrote his world-famous guitar concerto Concierto de Aranjuez, employing those same Spanish nationalist characteristics.