Joaquin Valverde Duran was born in Badajoz in 1846. He studied at the Madrid Conservatory and was a brilliant flautist, playing in military bands and theatre orchestras from the age of 13, and winning first prize in flute at the Conservatory in 1867. He won the composition prize in 1870. He wrote two manuals for flautists. Between 1871 and 1889 he was a professional theatre conductor.
His first symphony Batylo was written in 1871. His reputation as a composer was made, however, with a series of zarzuelas (light operas), written in collaboration with Federico Chueca. It appears that Chueca provided most of the melodies and Valverde provided the orchestral polish. They worked together on Un maestro de obra prima (1877), La Cancion de la Lola (1880), Luces y sombras and Fiesta Nacional (both 1882), Cadiz (1886), El ano pasado por agua (1889), and other operas. Their masterpiece was La gran via (Madrid, 2 July 1886), which was played in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, New York, Vienna, and many other theatres in Europe. It was premiered in London in 1906 as Castles in Spain.
A march from Cadiz (originally a hymn to a general, written in 1868 by Chueca alone) proved enormously popular in Spain, and it competed for popularity with the national anthem among the military. Both Valverde and Chueca were awarded the Military Grand Cross.
His other works include two symphonies and over 200 other orchestral works.
Joaquin Valverde Duran died in Madrid in 1910. His son "Quinito" Valverde carried on his father's tradition.