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Mark Morris’s Guide to Twentieth Century Composers

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Spain has had a long and honourable musical history, whose fortunes have fluctuated with that of the country. By the 19th century it was dominated by Italian opera, but in the second half of the century Spanish composers (in common with a number of other European countries) started to seek a nationalist expression. Francisco Asenjo Barbieri (1823-1894), musicologist, composer, itinerant performer and conductor, brought authentic Spanish folk material into his works, with considerable influence on the next generation of Spanish composers. His example was emulated by Tomás Bretón y Hernández (1850-1923), Ruperto Chapí (y Lorente) (1851-1909), and Amadeo Vives (1871-1932), all of whom concentrated on the traditional form of the zarzuela, the Spanish comic light opera that usually incorporated spoken dialogue. But the major turn-of-the-century nationalist composer was the Catalan Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922, not to be confused with his nephew, the Uruguayan composer Carlos Pedrell, 1878-1941). Known as the `Spanish Wagner' for his epic operatic trilogy Los Pirineos (The Pyrenees), Pedrell revived the classical elements of the zarzuela, drawing on folk music and folk tales and on the tonadilla escénica, a popular lyrico-dramatic comic form usually revolving around characters from the lower strata of society.

Pedrell was a distinguished teacher, and his most famous pupils, Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) and Enrique Granados (1867-1916), are the most distinguished Spanish composers of any period. Albéniz's major contribution were the four books of piano pieces titled Iberia (1909) evoking Spain (especially the music of Andalusia) with all her colours and traditions. Granados combined a Spanish passion with classical restraint, especially in his suite of piano pieces after Goya, Goyescas (1911) and the related opera of the same title (1916), first heard in New York. Their early deaths (Granados died trying to save his wife after the ship he was travelling on to play for President Wilson was torpedoed) were a blow to Spanish music, but they had introduced the now-familiar idioms of traditional Spanish music world-wide. Falla helped establish the nationalist idiom in orchestral music, hitherto largely ignored in favour of stage or piano works for economic reasons.

Most of the composers of the first half of the century developed the nationalist idiom, with a noticeable divergence into local identities. In Catalonia, the choral society Orfe Catal had been founded in 1881 to present the Spanish polyphonic tradition and to explore Catalan folk music. Francisco Ali (1862-1908) collected Catalan folk-songs, while Federico Mompou (1893-1987) and, in his earlier music, Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970) utilized Catalan themes. Valencia was represented by Eduardo López-Chavarri (1881-1970), poet and considerable writer on and editor of music as well as composer (including a major study of Spanish folk-music, Música popular española), with such works as Valencianas for orchestra and Danzas Valencianas for piano, and by the much better-known composer Joaquín Ro drigo (1901-1999). Oscar Esplá (1886-1976) utilized Alicante traditions, and Falla, Joaquín Turina (1882-1949) and the guitar virtuoso and composer Angel Barrios (Fernandez) (1882-1964, not to be confused with the Paraguayan guitarist-composer Pio Agustin Barrios, 1885-1944) those of Andalusia, which, with their strong gipsy and flamenco elements, have become most associated in the popular mind with the Spanish folk tradition. The lyrical and Romantic elements of this Spanish tradition were continued by Ernesto Halffter (born 1905), who was for some time considered to be the inheritor of Falla's style, until it was realised that Halffter's essentially vivacious outlook materially differed from the lean Spanish concision of Falla's last works. The music of Esplá, influential and important in Spain but little known outside, aimed for the spirit of folk-music rather than its transliteration. From the Vio lin Sonata of 1915 he started using a 9-note scale that reflected certain aspects of the music of his native Alicante. His major work is the symphonic episode Don Quijote verlando las armas ( Don Quixote Guarding his Arms, 1924), though he is probably best known outside Spain for his simple and affecting piano music.

A movement away from nationalism and towards a more modern European idiom was initiated by the Grupo de los Ocho (the 'Madrid Group'), founded in 1930, which aimed at a more abstract musical idiom, and whose chief members were Ernesto Halffter (though traditional Spanish idioms continued to play a role in his subsequent works), his brother Rodolfo Halffter (1900-1987 - see under `Mexico'), Salvador Bacarisse (1898-1963) and Julián Bautista (1901-1961). Bacarisse moved to Paris in 1936, where he spent the rest of his life. His earlier music was advanced for the Spain of the time, employing strong dissonances and polytonality and little Spanish idiom, but he later mellowed, and turned to works with nationalist subjects, particularly the heritage of older Spanish music. The works written in Paris are more neo-Romantic, although he returned to the Spanish tradition in the Fantasia andaluza for harp and orchestra, and in the marvellous Guitar Concertino (1957), combining it with neo-Baroque elegance and charm. The concertino is symphonically laid out in four movements, and with its appealing neo-Renaissance opening movement, a slow movement that rivals Rod rigo in its beauty and Spanish feel, a light scherzo, and a courtly dance of a finale, it is one of the most attractive of all guitar concertos. Bautista spent much of his life in South America, moving to Buenos Aires in 1940. Many of his scores were lost in the Spanish Civil War, but his surviving music embraces Impressionism, nationalist subjects, neo-classicism and a more contemporary idiom. Among his better known works are the resonant Tres ciudades (Three Cities, 1937, to texts by Lorca, and a tribute to Andalusia) for voice and piano or orchestra, which display his concise idiom, sensuous feel, and a use of a raw folk-like Andalusian vocal style, fusing the traditional with the contemporary. Spain's heroic past is evoked in a number of later works, including Catro poemas calegos (Four Galician Poems, 1946) for voice and orchestra or piano, which combines archaic and modern elements, honours famous characters from Galicia's past, and contrasts the rustic and the sophisticated, and Romance del Rey Rodrigo (1955-1956) for a cappella choir, which describes the defeat of Moors by the last Visigothic King of Spain with polyphonic ideas vying with dissonant harmonies and polyrhythms. Most of his neo-classical works date from the 1930s.

The influence of Schoenberg and then the neo-classicism of Stravinsky surfaced in the music of Rodolfo Halffter, who later developed a strongly polytonal idiom, while outside this group, Mo mpou explored his own brand of minimal structures and sounds known as `neo-Primitivism'. At the same time, during the period of the Republic in the early 1930s, Barcelona, fervent with new political and artistic ideas, blossomed as an international centre for the performance of new music, thus introducing the latest European trends to Spanish composers.

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco's victory effectively destroyed modern music in Spain for more than a decade. The majority of the more advanced Spanish composers were of Republican convictions, and left Spain: Falla and Bautista to Argentina, Rodolfo Halffter to Mexico, Bacarisse to Paris, Gerhard to Cambridge, England. None of them (apart from the minor composer Enrique Chapí) returned. Much of Spain's better modern music was then written outside the country. The finest modern Spanish composer, Gerhard, turned in the 1950s to the development of his own free ideas of the combination of free 12-tone techniques with tonal elements, especially in his orchestral works.

However, in the 1950s a new generation of composers who had not experienced the Civil War as adults emerged. Throughout the 20th century, a consistent thread of Spanish music had been its associations with developments in French music. Pedrell studied with d'Indy , and many of the succeeding generation studied in Paris or were influenced by Debussy and the Impressionists, who were themselves influenced by Spanish music. Similarly, two the more successful of this new generation of composers, Xavier Benguerel (born 1931) and Luis de Pa blo (born 1930), after briefly discovering 12-tone techniques, came under the influence of the circle of Bou lez, though the former then followed the example of the exploration of timbre and sonority of the modern Polish composers. Cristóbal Halffter (born 1930), nephew of Rudolpho and Ernesto, was briefly influenced by Ba rtók and Stravinsky before also turning to the mainstream avant-garde ideas. All three are European rather than Spanish composers, following a trend observable right across the continent, though Benguerel turned to the incorporation of Spanish medieval material into his contemporary idiom, thus continuing the Spanish tradition of incorporating older Spanish elements into modern idioms. However, the finest of this generation with Spanish connections, Maurice Ohana (born 1914), preferred to work in France. Although of Andalusian parentage, his father was born in Gibraltar (thus conferring on his son British citizenship), and he was born in Morocco, under which heading he will be found. Of the less well-known composers of this generation, Josep Soler (born 1935) has developed Impressionistic elements and come under the influence of Me ssiaen, while Josep Maria Mestres-Quadreny (born 1929) has been eclectic in his exploration of avant-garde means of expression. None of these composers are well-known outside Spain, and throughout the past three decades the music of Spain has been more popularly represented by the works of the conservative Joaquín Rodrigo, whose guitar concerto Concierto de Aranjuez, for better or worse, is one of the best known pieces of classical music from any period.

Throughout the century, the guitar has been the predominant Spanish instrument, heightened by its popularity in `pop' music world-wide from the middle of the century on, displacing the piano as the most often encountered household instrument. Most of the major 20th-century Spanish composers have written for it in some form or another, or been influenced by its techniques (for example, in piano writing) and the influence of Spanish idioms has filtered through to works written by composers of other nationalities for the instrument. Guitar music or guitar concertos are still the most likely modern Spanish works to be encountered outside Spain, apart from the music of Albéniz, Granados and Fa lla; the absence of any Spanish symphony or opera in the general international repertoire is conspicuous.

Mention should also be made of the influence of Spanish musical nationalism on the serious music of South America, both from indigenous traditions, and from the influence of those Spanish composers who settled in South America at the end of the Spanish Civil War. Some of T urina's idiom, for example, is comparable with the works of Mexican nationalism. Through Mexico, the Spanish influence then seeped through to influence some of the American composers.

Spain has also produced some exceptional interpreters, notably the pianist Ricardo Viñes (1875-1943), closely associated with many French composers, who introduced contemporary Spanish piano music to international audiences. The cellist Pau (Pablo) Casals (1876-1973), perhaps the finest of this century, left Spain in 1939 but remained attached to his Catalan heritage. More recently, the singers Victoria de Los Angeles and José Carreras have both included 20th-century Spanish songs in their repertoire, while the pianist Alicia de Larrocha and the guitarist Narciso Yepes have performed a similar service for the modern Spanish piano and guitar repertoires. Those seeking a cross-section of the more conservative 20th-century Spanish repertoire will find it in their recorded recitals.

Spain is not a member of the International Music Information Centre system.













born 9th February 1931 at Barcelona


Benguerel is one of the more interesting Catalan and Spanish composers of his generation, who has achieved some prominence in Germany as well as Spain, although he is little known elsewhere. He left Spain as a child and studied in Argentina, but returned to live in Spain in 1954. His earliest music shows the influence first of Bartók, and then of his studies of the 12-tone methods of Sc hoenberg. There then followed a number of concertante works, including the Concerto for Two flutes and Strings (1961), which has a lucidity of lyrical orchestration and melodic line and lively interplay between the two solo instruments, while following 12-tone and strongly contrapuntal ideas. The overall feel is almost pastoral, though with the injection of a more ominous mood in the centre of the slow movement.

With Música para Tres Percusionistas (1967) and Paraules de cada dia (Words for Everyday, 1967, to poems by his father) for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble of three flutes, two clarinets, harp, vibraphone, piano, celesta and percussion, he turned to the influence of Boulez. Paraules de cada dia is a song cycle of detailed textures, the colours determined by the Boulez-like instrumentation. Its wide-ranging vocal line and its close match between words and music create a descriptive effect with contemporary means.

During the late sixties Benguerel extended the idiom to include aleatoric devices, and turned his exploration to timbre and sonority, in the manner of such Polish avant-garde composers as Lutosl awski and Penderecki. The interest in symphonic colour had been heralded by the Simfonia per a un Festival (Symphony for a Festival, 1966); by the Quasi una fantasia (1971) for cello and chamber ensemble his idiom had joined the mainstream avant-garde. It is built on the effects of the orchestration of wind, brass, piano and three percussionists (but no strings), and on the juxtaposition of solos and tuttis. The colours and effects are extreme and inventive, with extended technique, often percussive, for the soloist (it was written for the virtuoso Siegfried Palm), and constantly changing rhythmic effects, though its overall impact does not match its details.

A second concertante work for cello and orchestra, the much more effective Cello Concerto of 1977, opens with an extended solo veering between lyricism and extended technique effects. It draws some of its material from early music (the 1137 Codex Calistinus), in common with some of Benguerel's other later work, thus continuing a tradition observable throughout 20th-century Spanish music of combining the heritage of Spain's musical history with the latest in contemporary techniques. The primary expression is of tension and contrast, sometimes with a blaring intensity, though with an atmospheric central section that directly quotes the Codex material against complex modern orchestral textures. The Pe rcussion Concerto (1975), with aleatoric elements, is a study in sonorities from the delicate to the massed. The reworking of medieval material in modern means is most obvious in Astral (1979) for guitar, piano four-hands, two percussionists, cello and bass, where the solo guitar has sections that are not only obvious in their medieval heritage, but also in their Spanish cast, surrounded by contemporary instrumental textures and the deconstruction of phrases; for anyone following the development of Spanish elements in Spain's modern music this work is of interest, as well as curiously affecting. Similarly, Raices Hispanicas (1978) for orchestra is a collage of various influences, from folk-music and the Spanish tradition to a theme from a Renaissance source, with the final emphasis on a formal nobility.


works include:

- Simfonia per a un Festival

- cello concerto; concerto for two flutes and strings; organ concerto; percussion concerto

- Destructio, Dialogue Orchestrale and Raices Hispanicas for orch.

- Estructura III for solo cello; Duo for clarinet and piano; Astral for guitar and six instrumentalists

- Estructura IV for piano

- cantatas Arbor, Balada de la dona que canta en la lanit (Ballad of the Woman Who Sings in the Night),Cantata d'Amic i d'Amat andLa creación del mundo según Pablo de Santa Maria (Creation of the World According to Pablo de Santa Maria); Metamorphosis for chorus; Paraules de cada dia for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble

- chamber opera Spleen


recommended works:

Astral (1979) for guitar and six instruments

Cello Concerto (1977)

Paraules de cada dia (1967) for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble


de FALLA (Y MATHEU) Manuel Maria

born 23rd November 1876 at Cadiz

died 14th November 1946 at Alta Gracia (Argentina)


In spite of his small output, the Andalusian Manuel de Falla (usually known simply as `Falla') remains the central figure in the music of 20th-century Spain. He brought orchestral mastery to a national music that had concentrated on opera or guitar or piano pieces, and an aesthetic that was steeped in both a sense of history and a strong expression of spiritual heritage.

The impact of his music has its roots in two personal qualities. His fastidiousness ensured that all his mature works have a feeling of total surety about them, each element having a consistency of purpose; it was responsible for his small output. His deep religiousness and personal self-discipline emerge in an asceticism through which the richness of the Spanish idiom was filtered; his works gradually became leaner, more concentrated, and more direct. Combined with this asceticism is above all a fervent rhythmic energy, often in repeating patterns that sometimes reflect guitar sounds and tuning, and a tendency towards mixing two or more keys. His contribution to Spanish music was to show that the traditional and colourful Spanish styles could be transmuted into a personal idiom, while retaining their essence, and that this heritage was not incompatible with the move towards compression and the abstract that was taking place elsewhere in Europe. This combination of distinctly Spanish colours and rigorous musicianship has ensured his universal popularity.

Falla's earliest adult works were zarzuelas (popular operettas), but his sense of musical heritage was subsequently developed by studies with Felipe Pedrell. His orchestral skills were then honed in Paris (1907-1914), with the advice of Albéniz, De bussy and Dukas. Before moving to Paris, he had already written the opera La v ide breve (Life is Short, 1904-1905), whose weak drama and characterization, apart from the central character Salud, has hindered its wider acceptance on the dramatic stage; consequently it is best known through excerpts that have found a popular place in the repertoire. It is primarily an opera of atmosphere and colour, with Spanish folk-traditions on the one hand and the influence of the French opera composer Massenet on the other. Salud's aria (`All est!') in Act II is the distillation of the Andalusian gipsy in the earthiness and colour of the music, eventually set against a song from a guitar player; the choral dances are vividly exciting. The later comic opera Fuego fatuo, with the music based on Chopin, has not survived in full.

The influence of Falla's Parisian friends is clear in theNoches en los jardines de España ( Nights in the Gardens of Spain, 1909-1915), a triptych of seductive nocturnes which combine the soft allusiveness of Impressionism with the more direct images of Spain in a work for piano and orchestra. The solo part is an integrated element of the orchestra rather than a concertante role. The four Pièces espagnoles (1909) for piano were influenced by Albéniz (to whom they were dedicated), though the last, Andaluza, uses the modal harmonies that were to feature in Falla's later work. His attitude to the folk tradition emerged in the 7 Canciones populares españolas ( Seven Spanish Popular Songs, 1914) for voice and piano. While using actual folk-tunes, they attempt to recreate the essence of the idiom rather than presenting them in straightforward arrangements. Although the overall effect is lean and intimate, the piano writing is sometimes complex, with reminiscences of the guitar (the songs, like other Falla works, including Nights in the Gardens of Spain, have been successfully transcribed for guitar).

This attitude to the folk heritage is amplified in the ballet El amor brujo (Love the Magician, 1914-1915 for chamber orchestra, revised for full orchestra), which is steeped in the Andalusian flamenco style without ever directly quoting folk material. It is a fiercely exciting work, vivid with the light and colour of southern Spain, with a vocal part in the gipsy style contrasting with slow Impressionist sections. Its fervour reflects its fast rate of composition, the rich orchestration built around string sonorities, biting brass, and a touch of Moorish inflection.

The next major work, El Corregidor y la molinera ( The Corregidor and the Miller's Wife, 1917), was revised for Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes as El Sombrero de tres picos ( The Three-Cornered Hat) in 1919, in which version it is usually heard, either full-length or in the suite of dances. It makes reference to folk-tunes, but it is the taut vigour of the rhythms, their repetitive patterns, and the orchestration that is arresting. Its idiom is steeped in local colour, including castanets and `olés', but allowing neo-classical moments. The evocations of the cuckoo (by a song for soprano), a cuckoo clock, and a musical box, have a Ravelian magic. The original version, however, is also worth hearing in its own right, for the effect of its chamber-sized orchestration, more austere than the revision, is quite different, with an intimate, charged atmosphere that looks forward to the Harpsichord Concerto.

Falla's idiom then became more stylized in the Fantasa Bé tica (1919 - Baetica was the Roman name for Andalusia), his best known piano work, with echoes of guitar figurations, characteristic dance rhythms, but also a use of modes and polytonality as the basic harmonic material. El Retablo de Maestre Pedro (M aster Peter's Puppet Show, 1919-1922, based on a episode in Don Quixote) is a delight. It is a puppet-show within a puppet-show and an opera all at once. The guests from the inn, who include Don Quixote, are larger marionettes, and the puppet show they have come to see is played by glove puppets. The singers are placed in the orchestra. A boy narrates the story of rescue and abduction in Charlemagne's time, in a recitative style taken from the story-tellers of Spanish street-corners. In the middle, Don Quixote gets confused between artifice and reality, and attacks the wicked glove-puppets. The score includes elements of medieval music and a residue of folk-music. It is now given all too rarely, and is usually presented with singers replacing the larger marionettes, which destroys some of the theatrical magic.

With the small orchestra of the puppet opera (including harpsichord), the development of Falla's idiom towards a wider variety of effects with leaner forces continued, and reached its culmination in what is perhaps his masterpiece, the short Harpsichord Concerto (1923-1926) for harpsichord and flute, oboe, clarinet, violin and cello. Traditional Spanish elements are now totally integrated into his individual style, the inheritance of history being expressed in harpsichord writing that is modern while echoing that of Domenico Scarlatti. The gradual concentration of material, evident throughout Falla's work, is complete. He creates a rarefied but expressive effect full of fervour and excitement, with characteristic energy and vigour in the ostinato rhythms, a solemn slow movement, a wide range of colours and instrumental detail, and often a feeling of more than one key. One of the reasons it is not more often heard is that it was written for a modern Pleyel harpsichord, of much larger sonority than the harpsichords usually encountered.

For the final two decades of his life Falla laboured on an enormous `scenic cantata', Atlàntida (1928-1946), for five sopranos, three mezzo-sopranos, three contraltos, three tenors, baritone, bass, children's chorus, chorus and orchestra, which was to be his expression of the essence of the spirit of Spain. Sung in Catalan, it ranges from the myth of Hercules in Spain to Columbus's discovery of the New World. Its language continued the spare distillation of the Ha rpsichord Concerto but without its concentration, ranging from grandeur to lyricism, and with the influence of medieval modes and forms. It was left in a complex state of partial completion on Falla's death, and his pupil Ernesto Halffter eventually created a performing version (1961, revised 1976), inevitably uneven but a major Spanish work. Its failings originate in the text by the 19th century Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer: the epic is, for a musical work, over-packed with legend, heroic allusion, and an allegory of the spiritual connection between classical legend, Spain, and the New World. Both the sentiment and the language belong to the 19th-century. So does much of the setting of the first of three parts, in an oratorio style beloved of late 19th-century choral societies. However, the central Part II is more dramatic, musically more individual, and rhythmically more excitingly varied, as in the powerful chorus `Dixit Dominus', with its half-chanted, half-spoken choral lines. This part deserves to be heard on its own, given the problem of forces, scale, and the lack of a clear sense of dramatic or musical shape of the entire work. The other main work completed in this period is Homenajes (1920-1939) for orchestra, built on the orchestral version of two instrumental works of tribute,Le tombeau de Claude Debussy (1920) for guitar and Pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas (1935) for piano, with the addition of a further movement honouring Pedrell (Pedrelliana).

Besides having a number of noted Spanish composers as his pupils, Falla founded the Orquesta Bética de Cámera, and in 1938 Franco named him as president of the Spanish Institute. However, the composer accepted an invitation from Argentina in 1939, and did not return to Spain, although on his death his body was returned for burial in Cadiz Cathedral. The orders in his will that none of his works were to be performed on stage after his death has happily been ignored.


works include:

- harpsichord concerto; Noches en los jardines de Espãña ( Nights in the Gardens of Spain) for piano and orch.

- Homenajes for orch.

- 7 Canciones populares españolas and 3 Mélodies for voice and piano; Soneto a Cordoba for voice and harp or piano;Psyché for voice, flute, harp and string trio; scenic cantata Atlàntida (unfinished, completed by E.Halffter)

- Le tombeau de Claude Debussy for guitar;Fantasia bética, Pièces espagnoles and Pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas for piano

- ballets El amor brujo (Love the Magician), El Sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat); puppet ballet El Retablo de Maestre Pedro ( Master Peter's Puppet Show)

- opera La vide breve


recommended works (English titles):

ballet El amor brujo (Love the Magician, 1914-1915)

Harpsichord Concerto (1926)

Nights in the Gardens of Spain (1911-1915) for piano and orchestra

ballet The Three-Cornered Hat (1918-1919)

puppet opera Master Peter's Puppet Show (1923)



S. Demarquez Manuel de Falla, trans. S.Attansio, 1983



born 25th September 1896 at Valls (Tarragona)

died 5th January 1970 at Cambridge (U.K.)


The public reputation of Roberto Gerhard has been obscured by his twin allegiances, for although in origins and sometimes aesthetic he is a Spanish composer (albeit with Swiss family origins), he left Spain following Franco's victory in 1939, and settled in the U.K., eventually becoming a British citizen in 1960. His striking idiom then followed broad European trends, concentrating on orchestral works, of which the main legacy is his attempt to extend the formal parameters of the idiom in his four symphonies (a fifth was left incomplete). Although complex formal ideas underlie his later work, notably groups of intervals and an extension of serial ideas into rhythm and duration, Gerhard was at pains to downplay this aspect of his idiom in favour of the purely aural effects of the sonorities and contrasts he developed. His music seems clearly designed to appeal to the emotions more than the intellect, and in this he succeeded. His orchestration is particularly compelling (in the later works always including percussive piano), especially in the clear but busy and almost pointillistic details that are in part the heritage of Schoenberg.

He studied in Spain with the Catalan Felipe Pedrell, and then with Schoenberg, although the influence of the latter was not to fully emerge until after World War II, apart from the few early works written before his mid-thirties, mostly chamber music and songs (notably the Seven Haiku, 1922, revised 1958, for high voice, wind instruments and piano). On his return to Spain in 1928 he turned to his Spanish heritage rather than atonal or 12-tone music, including works with specific Catalan ties, such as the cantataL'Alta naixença del rei en jaume (1932),Albada, interludi i dansa (1936) for orchestra, and the fourteen Cançons populars catalanes (1928) for soprano and piano (six of which he orchestrated). The first works written in England follow this trend, including three ballets. Of these, Don Quixote (1940-1941), from which he made a number of suites including the attractive 1957 suite for orchestra with a prominent piano part, is full of delightful orchestral mosaic detail and wit, exemplified in the use of a tone-row that arises from Quixote's theme to represent the other side of his nature, and which happily merges into the predominantly tonal cast. Al gérias (1942), usually heard in the suite of extracts, is a marvellous flamenco evocation, a combination of ironic pastiche and Spanish colour, taking as its concept the analogy of a bullfight to a wooing, the wooer as the bull, the girl as the torero; it includes a quote from the funeral march of Chopin's Piano Sonata No.2 in B ? minor. Two works from this period pay tribute to the heritage of Pedrell, the Cancionero de Pedrell (1941) for soprano and chamber orchestra and the symphony (not listed in the numbered symphonies) Homenaje à Pedrell (1941) on themes from Pedrell's opera La Celestina.

Gerhard then returned to Schoenbergian ideas, notably in the Violin Concerto (1942-1943) (it borrows a tone-row from Schoenberg's String Quartet No.4 for the slow movement), though still with touches of the Spanish heritage (including a reference to Chabrier's España). But Gerhard uses 12-tone ideas within a strong emphasis on lyricism and sonic effect, hovering on tonality. The Violin Concerto oscillates between tonal passages and a more dissonant idiom, and the solo line has some of the infectiousness of a dancer in the outer movements, whimsically lyrical in the slow movement. With the Symphony No.1 (1952-1953), he rejected traditional forms: although in three movements, it is non-thematic. Instead each movement grows from within, without repetition or restatements, in a continuously unfolding weave, the final movement building into complex and dramatic climaxes. The result is robust, effective, with a wealth of clear orchestral detail (notably the harp, adding a Spanish touch) combined with a rhythmic flow that is lyrical in impulse, and an harmonic idiom that again revolves around tonal associations. In the String Quartet No.1 (1950-1955) he developed an individual extension of 12-tone ideas to rhythm (a time-series), and the subsequent use of this gives his later music its particular rhythmic impulse (his series use prime numbers, so that one idea may use five beats, another simultaneous idea seven, and they will not coincide again until 35 beats later). He also started unifying works by corresponding the overall architecture to these internal divisions, and his subsequent music is invariably cast in one continuous structure divided into sections of movements without breaks. Such series are used in the Symphony No.2 (1957-1959), which was partly revised in 1967, though that revision is incomplete and the published score reverts to the original in the last of the four movements, played without a break. It is a more austere, less individual and rather uncharacteristic work, more obviously related to the contemporary avant-garde, the orchestration being dominated by percussion, the interest in unusual sonorities being reflected in the use of an accordion.

In the 1960s Gerhard continued his exploration of sonorities, developing unusual string effects in the String Quartet No.2 (1960-1962). In the programmatic Symphony No.3 `Collages' (1960) he heightened the drama by opposing the orchestra with an electronic tape using musique concrète sounds. Inspired by a plane flight, it is in one movement cast into seven sections, each corresponding to a hymn of praise for a different hour between sunrise and sunset. Alternating between drama and repose, and with a meditative central section without tape, the wide-ranging sonorities from the large orchestra (including piano) match the other-worldliness of the tape, whose sounds are very successfully integrated into the complete pattern. The path of Gerhard's development then reached a logical conclusion in the Concerto for Orchestra (1964-1965) and in the Symph ony No.4 `New York' (1966-1967, named for the commissioning orchestra, the New York Philharmonic). The concentration is now entirely on texture and sonorities: structures are built on the contrasts of textures, using all his command of orchestration, and durations predominate over pitch. In the Concerto there is a very wide range of sounds, including extensive use of strings as percussion instruments. It is a virtuoso orchestral score, characteristically intense and concentrated, combining three layers: orchestral colour in fast movement, static figurations, and long-breathed slower unfolding. The Symphony No.4 feels marvellously organic in its progression of contrasts, in its constantly fluctuating orchestral shapes, in its huge variety of instrumental effect and colour.

Gerhard's late works continue the exploration of non-thematic evolution and of colourful instrumentation and effect, as in the kaleidoscope of instrumental combinations and figuration in Libra (1968) for flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, percussion and piano, or in the more disparate Leo (1969) for flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, two percussionists, piano and celesta, his last completed work. Both works (from a group known as the Astrol ogical Series) end with the moving use of the same folk-tune.

Two dramatic scores occupy an important place in Gerhard's other works. The opera The Duenna (1945-1947, after Sheridan's play) is a neo-classical pastiche, combining tonality for the songs and a more chromatic idiom in a free 12-tone style for the interlinking passages and motifs. The Plague (1963-1964, after Camus's novel) is unexpectedly a melodrama with narrator, chorus (whose range extends to whispering and shouting) and orchestra. It is for concert rather than stage use, taking ten episodes from the novel. The Concerto for Piano and Strings (1951) moves from a harmonically free idiom to 12-tone, and the tonal associations of 12-tone technique were further explored in the bright Concerto for Harpsichord, Strings and Percussion (1956). Among his handful of electronic pieces is a setting of Lorca's Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter (1959) for speaker and tape, paralleling Ohana's masterly setting.

Gerhard's music shows a consistent development to the mature and individual works of the 1960s. The earlier Spanish pieces, with their evocative colour, will give pleasure in themselves, but it is the later works which command attention on a number of levels. With his personal use of post-Schoenbergian ideas, and the integration of tonal elements with serial elements, they appeal through their emotional impact and their range of sonorities and colour. This is an idiom that may well appeal to those still hesitant about, or sceptical of, serial developments in music. To those versed in such an idiom, his free and individual concepts, especially in their application to the concept of the symphony, are fascinating, although the very surety of his instincts sometimes make analysis difficult.

Gerhard also edited the quintets of Soler, and was noted for his incidental music, particularly for productions of Shakespeare at Stratford. Although he lived in Cambridge from 1939, he did little formal teaching (except at the Dartington and Tanglewood summer schools), but he lectured widely and was visiting professor at the University of Michigan in 1960.


works include:

- symphony Homenaje a Pedrell; 4 symphonies (No.3 Collages for tape and orch., No.4 New York)

- Concerto for Harpsichord, Strings and Percussion;Concerto for Piano and Strings; violin concerto; Concerto for Orchestra

- Albada, interludi i dansa and Epithalamion for orch.

- Capriccio for solo flute; Gemini for violin and piano; piano trio; 2 string quartets; wind quintet; Concerto for Eight; Hymnody, Libra and Leo for chamber ensemble

-14 Cançons populars catalanes (1928) for soprano and piano (6 orchestrated); Cancionero de Pedrell (1941) for soprano and chamber orch.; Seven Haiku for high voice, wind instruments and piano and other song cycles; cantata L'Alta naixença del rei en jaume

- ballets Algérias, Ariel, Don Quixote, Pandora, Soirées de Barcelone

- melodrama The Plague; opera The Duenna

- much incidental and film music

- electronic 4 Audiomobiles,Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter for speaker and tape, 5 Sculptures and Ten Pieces


recommended works:

ballet suite Algérias (1942)

Concerto for Orchestra (1965)

Symphony No.1 (1952-1953)

Symphony No.3 Collages (1960)

Symphony No.4 New York (1966)

Violin Concerto (1942-1943)


HALFFTER Cristóbal

born 24th March 1930 at Madrid


Cristóbal Halffter is the nephew of the Spanish composerErnesto Halffter and the Spanish-Mexican composerRodolfo Halffter. After being influenced byBartók and Stravinsky in the 1950s in such works as Dos movi mientos (Two Movements, 1956), which won a UNESCO prize, he then combined tonality with modal influences and elements of serial and 12-tone techniques in the Misa Ducal (1956) for chorus and orchestra.

In the 1960s he followed this line of development by turning to ideas of the European avant-garde, particularly in larger-scale works using contrasting sonorities and favouring massed swirling repetitive figures (often in woodwind) set against or within strident interjections. There is in his mature work an undercurrent of repressed anger and violence coming to the surface through the avant-garde sonorities, as well as a sense of social comment that had, in the Franco dictatorship, to be covert.

Post-Webern ideas surfaced in such works as E spejos (Mirrors, 1963) for four percussionists and tape, which combines freely improvised elements with strictly controlled rhythms, the mirror of the title being reflected in the form: it ends with the opening and its retrograde played simultaneously. His individual voice emerged in such works as Symposion (1968) for baritone, choir and orchestra, where although many of the current avant-garde techniques appear (massed clusters for the chorus, influenced by Ligeti, the chattering and talking of the chorus, a section for wood-blocks) there is an epic quality in the sharply contrasting sections, in the declamatory baritone line, and in the insistent opening. This creates a fierce excitement and a personal expressive fervour, which some have seen as a Spanish aspect of his otherwise European idiom.

A similar sense of scale pervades Secuencias (1964) for orchestra, with a layer of subdued massed and cluster string sonorities against declamatory brass creating a long-term sense of swell and subsidence; Halffter regularly divides his orchestra into specified blocks or groups. In Lineas y puntos (Lines and Points, 1967) for twenty winds and tape, it is the tape which provides the broad sweep, the instruments the foreground detail, either declamatory or chattering or eventually lyrical. One of Halffter's most widely known works, commissioned by UNESCO to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the dramatic cantata Yes Speak Out Yes (1968) for the huge forces of six speakers, soprano, baritones, two choruses, and large orchestra with two conductors. Centred around the progression of key words ("No", "Why", "Yes, speak out, yes", "children", "peace") and including quotations from the declaration, it utilizes avant-garde choral effects (declamatory speech, clusters) with the fervour that is characteristic of the composer. The text is treated atmospherically and the solo vocal lines use extreme vocal ranges, which merge with declamatory speech from the speakers. But in spite of its grand aims, it is anger and stridency that leave the final impression.

However the large scale ofElegias a la muerte de tres poetas españoles ( Elegy on the Death of Three Spanish Poets, 1974-1975) for large orchestra, is much more imposing, with swirls of recurring patterns, resonant layered sonorities, and harsh injections. It explores the expressive sonorities of the orchestra, both angry and elegiac, and again with an epic quality. The changes in Spain after the death of Franco (1973), though welcome, did not meet Halffter's artistic hopes and expectations and he left in 1978. His feelings were graphically expressed in a short harpsichord piece Adieu (1978), a combination of gentle nostalgia and extreme frustrated outbursts. Of his recent works, he has maintained the main elements of his idiom in the large-scale Cello Concerto No.2 (1985), while his String Quartet No.3 (1990) suggested a return to more traditional tonal elements.

Cristóbal Halffter was on the staff of Spanish Radio, and conductor of the Orquesta Manuel de Falla (1964-1966). He taught at the Madrid Conservatory (1964-1966).


works include:

Sinfonia for three groups

- 2 cello concertos; piano concerto; violin concerto; concertino for strings; Fibonaciana for flute and small orch.; Pinturas negras for organ and orch.

- Anillos, Elegias a la muerte de tres poetas españoles, 5 Microformas, Requiem por la libertad imaginada, Secuencias and Variaciones sobre la resonancia for orch.

- Lineas y puntos for 20 winds and tape; Planto por las victimas de la violencia for 18 instruments and electronics; Pourquoi for 12 strings; Processional for 2 pianos, 29 wind (23 players) and 4 percussionists; Tiempo para espacios for harpsichord and 12 strings

- 3 Pieces for solo flute; Codex for guitar; 3 string quartets (No.2 Memoires); Formantes for two pianos; Espejos for 4 percussion and live tape; Antiphonismoi for septet of wind and strings; Oda for sextet of wind, piano/celesta and strings

- piano sonata

- Antifona Regina Coeli for soloists, chorus and orchestra; dramatic cantata Yes Speak Out Yes for 6 speakers, soprano, baritones, 2 choruses, and large orch. with 2 conductors

- ballet Saeta


recommended works:

Elegias a la muerte de tres poetas españoles (1974-1975) for orchestra

Symposium (1968) for baritone, chorus and orchestra



born 16th January 1905 at Madrid

died 5th July 1989 at Madrid


A pupil of Falla, Ernesto Halffter's early works were influenced by the spare and fastidious style of his teacher's Harpsichord Concerto, with its echoes of Domenico Scarlatti. The return to classical or earlier models, as in the echoes of past Spanish dance styles from all ages in the ballet Sonatina (1928), was combined with an awareness of the contemporary vogue for smaller forces and for abstract neo-classicism initiated by Stravinsky. The major work of this period was one of Halffter's most important works, the Sinfonietta (1923-1925, revisions until 1927), which had considerable impact in Spain. Following the pattern of a Haydn sinfonia concertante, with instrumental solos, it shows the zest and brilliance that were to remain a feature of his idiom, a tonal idiom leavened by bitonality, and the clear influence of Stravinsky and `Les Six', in what is for a sinfonietta a long and complex work.

In 1930 he joined the Grupo de los Ocho (the 'Madrid Group'), and his subsequent works show the influence of R avel (whom he met in Paris in the late 1920s), including the Rhapsodia portuguesa (1940, revised 1951) for piano and orchestra. Between 1954 and 1960, and again through a number of revisions up to 1976, much of his energies were devoted to the reconstruction and completion of Falla's huge scenic cantata Atlàntida. However in the 1960s, under the influence of contemporary post-Webern ideas, he refined his own idiom into a more fastidious and economical style (without abandoning a tonal base), most likely to be encountered in the Guitar Concerto (1969). This rhythmically vibrant work has a slightly acid touch in its dissonant harmonies, a curiously despondent slow movement with moments suffused with illumination, and a wild dance of a finale, with orchestral outbursts and percussive interjections. He also returned to his earlier neo-classicism (or rather, to the influence of the Spanish Renaissance), in such works as Gozos de Nuestra Señora (1970) for chorus and orchestra, which, like other choral works of this late period, also reflect his experience working on Falla's large score.

Ernesto Halffter thus emerges as representative of Spanish neo-classicism, more wide-ranging and sophisticated than R odrigo, though he lacks the instant individuality and melodic memorability of the latter, in spite of the general appeal of his own characteristic brilliance of style. In 1924 he was appointed conductor of the Orquesta Bética of Seville, and in 1934-1936 Director of the National Conservatory in Seville. He also has had close connections with Portugal, his wife being the Portuguese pianist Alicia Cámara Santos.


works include:

- sinfonietta

- guitar concerto; violin concerto; Rhapsodia portuguesa for piano and orch.

- Amanecer en los jardines de España, Dos bocetos sinfónicas, Habanera and Nocturno for orch.

- Madrigal for solo guitar or solo violin; Fantasia española for cello and piano; Pastorales for flute and harpsichord; Homenajes for string trio; string quartet;Sonatina-fantasia for string quartet; Suite de las Doncellas for 4 wind; Preludios románticos for 4 violins; Suite antigua for wind instruments

- piano sonata; Espagnolade, Llanto o la muerte de Ricardo Viñes Serenata a Dulcinella and other works for piano.

- Tiento for organ

- song cycles Canciones del Niño de Cristal,Canciones españoles, Canciones portuguese, Cinco canciones de Heine, and Cuatro canciones de Denisse for low voice and piano; Automne malade for soprano and 9 instruments; Canticum in memoriam P.P. Johannem XXIII for soprano, baritone, chorus and orch.; Dominus pastor meus for soloists, chorus and orch.;Elegia en memoria de S.A.S. Principe Pierre de Polignac and Gozos de Nuestra Señora for chorus and orch.

- ballets El cojo enamorado, Fantasia galaica and Sonatina

- opera La Muerte de Carmen

- incidental music including Dulcinella (extracted into orchestral suite); film music


recommended works:

Sinfonietta (1923-1925) for orchestra



see under MEXICO


MOMPOU Federico

born 16th April 1893 at Barcelona

died 30th June 1987 at Barcelona


Mompou is a kind of by-water of a composer, whose output consists almost entirely of meditative and introvert piano music and songs. He spent much of his life in Paris (1911-1914, 1921-1941). Influenced by Satie, he aimed at a very spare piano style, almost entirely in miniatures or sets of miniatures, with very little modulation or thematic development - a return to a 'primitive' idiom which he called `Recomençament' (or `recomienzo', beginning anew). The basic material often reflects popular themes, and within its subdued parameters his style used first Impressionistic and then neo-classical elements, often indulging in bell-like sounds. His harmonies regularly have the feel of minor keys, though he dispensed with key signatures and bar divisions. His introspection is reflected in his playing his own works only for friends (in spite of his own pianistic abilities), apart from a complete recording of his piano works late in his life. Even the twelve Songs and Dances for piano, spanning 1918 to 1962, are largely slow and melancholic, with a nostalgic quality, and any dissonance confined to stylistic device. The ultimate development of his idiom is found in the four books of Música callada (Silent Music, 1959, 1962, 1965 and 1967), based on an idea from St.John of the Cross suggesting a music that would express the very voice of silence. The miniatures are very austere, with little contrast or change, but with a slow-moving meditative quality that is rather haunting in its appeal. Of his songs, the song cycle Combat del somni (1942-1948) for high voice and piano is typical: delicate and introspective, with three mournful songs comparing dreams, nature and the poet's lover. His only guitar piece of note is the Suite compostelana (1962), though his piano music, arranged for guitar, is sometimes heard in recitals. There has been a revival of interest in Mompou's music in the 1990s, and those exploring the more unusual piano repertoire may find items of interest in his output. His miniatures are best heard in isolation rather than in groups, where the consistency of idiom and emotion is inclined to become wearisome. For others he is best left as a by-water.


works include:

- Canço i Dança, Cançion de cune, Cants Màgics,Charmes, Dialogues, Escenas de niños,Fêtes lointaines, Impresiones intimas,Música callada, Paisajes, Passebres,Preludios, Souvenirs de Exposition, Trois Variations, Variaciones sobre un tema de Chopin for piano; Suite compostelana for guitar

- song cycle Combat del somni and other songs and song cycles; Cantar del alma for chorus; Improperios for chorus and orch.


recommended works:

Silent Music (1959-1967) for piano



A. Iglesias Frederico Mompou, 1977 (in Spanish)


OHANA Maurice

see under MOROCCO


de PABLO Luis

born 28th January 1930 at Bilbao


Self-taught as a composer (he studied law at university), de Pablo is a leading Spanish composer who has followed the trends of contemporary European idioms. His early music was influenced by Str avinsky and Bartók, and in the late 1950s he turned to serialism following his readings of the critic René Liebowitz on the 12-tone composers and of the ideas ofMessiaen. He later translated writings onSchoenberg and W ebern into Spanish, and published his own book on contemporary music (1968).

In the late 1950s he embraced the major current avant-garde ideas, including free forms, structures based on the concepts of mobiles (e.g. Movil I, 1958, and Movil II, 1968, for two pianos) and collage, and electroacoustic techniques. Sonorities and the interaction of silences were explored in such works as Ce suras (1963) for three woodwind and three strings. He also developed his own technique in what he termed `modules': the smallest possible expressive units, which are then interchangeable. Thus Mo dulos V (1967) for organ is created from 25 fragments, themselves grouped into three episodes, within which the interpreter has choices of register, timbre, and other parameters, and also of the order of the episodes and the order of fragments within the episodes, but ending with a fourth episode without such choices. Wispy strands of such fragmentary material form layers in Modulos III (1967) for orchestra, and similar techniques are found in the rest of the Modulos series (Nos.I-VI, 1965-68, with various instrumental forces). Post-serial developments and similar micro-structures are evident in the often aggressive Ejercicio (1965) for string quartet, which displays extremes of dramatic effect and extended technique, with high harmonics, disjointed pointillistic effects, plucking and swoops, and darker held colours. The energetic Iniciativas (1966) for orchestra has similarly violent tendencies, contrasting massed string or prominent piano ideas with outbursts from solo or other instrumental groups.

De Pablo then turned to electronic works, with or without other forces, transforming the instrumental group Alea, which he had founded in 1965, into a live electronic ensemble in 1967. He also started to explore theatrical or extra-musical elements, including collaborations with J.L. Alexanco (Soledad interrompida, 1971, for tapes and plastic objects and Historia natural, 1972, for instruments, tape, lights and plastic objects). His close alliance with French avant-garde developments is indicated not only by the predominantly French (as opposed to Spanish) titles in his later works, but also by the French Government creating him an Officier des Arts et des Lettres in 1973.

On the available evidence, de Pablo's music has helped bring Spanish music into the main-stream European avant-garde, but lacks the individual stamp of some of his European contemporaries. Readers may findBenguerel's music more idiomatic, and Cristóbal Halffter's more individual; all are eclipsed in intellectual rigour and sonic interest by the later music of the older Gerhard. De Pablo has also been active in promoting new music in Spain. He founded the concert series `Tiempo y Música' (1958- 1965) and an electronic studio (1965), and has been influential as a teacher at the Madrid Conservatory. He worked for Iberian Airlines from 1956 to 1960.


works include:

- harpsichord concerto

- Iniciativas, 4 invenciones, Oroitaldi and Tombeau for orch.; Je mange, tu manges for orch. and synthesizer; Quasi una fantasia for string sextet and orch.

- 4 Eléphants ivres for orch.

; 2 Imaginaro (No.1 for harpsichord and 3 percussionists, No.2 for orch.); six Modulos (No.1 for 2 clarinets, 2 xylophones, 2 pianos and string quartet; No.2 for orch.; No.3 for brass, tuned percussion, piano, harmonium, celesta, guitar, and mandolin; No.4 for string quartet; No.5 for organ)

- 5 piezas para Miró for 10 instruments; Dejame hablar for 11 strings; La libertad sonrie for 15 wind instruments; Sinfonias for 17 brass; Parafrasis and Radial for 24 instruments; Polar for chamber ensemble

- Pardon for clarinet and trombone; Soirée for clarinet and violin; Promenade sur un corps for flute and percussion obbligato; Masque for flute, clarinet, piano and percussion; string quartet; Fragmento for string quartet; clarinet quintet; Cesuras for wind and string sextet; Prosoda for 6 instruments; Reciproco for 4 flutes, piano and percussion;

- piano sonata; Gárgolas for piano; Comme d'habitude for two pianos, one player; 2 Móvils for two pianos

- Comentarios for tenor, flute, double bass and piano; Escena for 2 choruses, strings and percussion; Glosa for soprano, 2 trumpets, piano and percussion; Heterogeneo for 2 speakers and orch.; Por diversos motivos for mezzo, chorus, and three pianos, two players; Very Gentle for soprano, counter-tenor, harpsichord and organ; Ein Wort for soprano, clarinet, violin and piano; Yo lo vi for ten solo voices

- music theatre piece Protocolo

- Tamao natural and We for tape;Al son que tocan for instrumental ensemble and tape;Soledad interrompida for tapes and plastic objects; Historia natural for instruments, tape, lights and plastic objects; Solo un paso for flute, speaker, tapes, lights and objects



L. de Pablo Aproximacion a una esttica de la musica contemporanea, 1968

T.Marco Luis de Pablo, 1971 (in Spanish)



born 22nd November 1901 at Sagunto (Valencia)

died 6 July 1999 at Madrid


Blind from the age of three, Joaquín Rodrigo is best known for two works for guitar and orchestra, the Concierto de Aranjuez and the Fantasia para un Gentilhombre, and often dismissed because of it. This is unfortunate, for if his idiom is conservative, he nonetheless showed a steady line of development in a very personal and appealing idiom that concentrated on creating atmosphere and a Spanish ambience. Some of his later works are not only finer than either of these two, the slow movement of the concerto apart, but also progress to a style that may interest many who might otherwise ignore the rest of his considerable output. His works are mainly concertos and vocal music; the former are quite widely disseminated (on the strength of the two popular works), the latter are little known outside Spain.

Where other Spanish composers have turned to recent folk or gipsy traditions for their expression of a national music, Rodrigo has turned as much to an earlier Spanish heritage, being inspired not only by the feel of history so prevalent in Spain, but also by the Spanish composers of the 17th and 18th centuries. In this sense, he is a kind of Spanish neo-classicist, paralleling the Italian neo-madrigal movement. Perhaps he is best described as a pastoral composer, in the sense of the solitary lyricism of the shepherd surveying - with straightforward pleasure, nostalgia and joy - the landscape around him, aware of his own historical continuity, suggesting a constant programmatic base to his works. That pastoralism is exemplified in the spare, elemental but lyrical atmosphere of the 4 canciones sefardies ( Four Shepherd Songs, 1963), for low voice and piano, with drones and a pentatonic scale among its colours. There is no sense of angst in Rodrigo's music, and that removed him from the general tenor of the music of our time - perhaps some of that solitude stemmed from his blindness. Nonetheless, for all the musical conservatism it entails, it remains a valid part of the human experience. If in some works he continued an essentially unchanged style, in others, such as the magical slow movement of the Concierto como un divertimento, he displayed much more idiomatic means in creating a similar ambience. His forms generally follow classical models; his orchestration, which showed a gradually increasing sureness, favours rich colours in spare textures, brass triplets, high wind, and long string lines; his basic material drew on a combination of the classical heritage and folk-music, with a melodic style narrow in range but instantly recognizable and almost always memorable.

His earliest major work is the symphonic poemPer la flor del lliri blau ( For the flower of the blue lily, 1934) for orchestra. Although it does use traditional songs, the Spanish idioms are not overt in a work that shows the immaturity of his early technique, and is eclectic in its material, from a grand march, through contrived dissonances, to a jaunty piccolo tune with influences from Impressionism to Wagner and Mussorgsky. If at times pompous, it shows Rodrigo's considerable flair for atmosphere, and is worth hearing. It was followed by a work that is among the most popular in the entire classical repertoire, the Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) for guitar and orchestra, which has been suborned into countless arrangements, from muzak to jazz (some to Rodrigo's annoyance). Essentially neo-classical in construction, using a small orchestra with prominent solo instruments to balance the guitar, it is an evocation of the haunting atmosphere of the royal palace of Aranjuez, both its colourful joys and its mysterious nocturnal weight of history. The outer movements can be criticized for their lack of orchestral refinement and their over-jaunty tone, but they are infectious. The heart of the work is the central adagio, where Rodrigo brilliantly conjures up the magic of the night air with an almost improvisatory guitar covering a very wide range of colours against a hushed orchestra; for many this is the essence of Spain in music.

Of his other scores for guitar or guitars and orchestra, the Fantasia para un Gentilhombre (1954) for guitar and orchestra has achieved almost as much popularity as the Concerto de Aranjuez - rather inexplicably, given the greater potential appeal of some of the composer's other works. It is very different in tone, being based on guitar works by Gaspar Sanz (c.1640-after 1681), early music dressed in the gentle garb of modern Spanish colours, and effective as such. The Concierto andaluz (1967) for four guitars and orchestra is, along with the Concierto heróico (1942) for piano and orchestra, the least successful of Rodrigo's concertos, overstepping the boundary of banality to which his music is always in danger of veering. Much finer, and in many ways his most interesting concerto, is the Concierto madrigal (1967) for two guitars and orchestra, written for the Romero family of guitarists, who have become closely associated with Rodrigo's music. What distinguishes this concerto is its construction - ten sections using a central theme of an anonymous madrigal Felices ojos mios - and the combination of neo-madrigal and folk or dance treatments. The Concierto para una fiesta (1982) for guitar and orchestra has the unusual distinction of being commissioned for the social debut of two American sisters (on which occasion it was first performed), and has an extremely difficult solo part. The concerto is more restrained than the title might suggest (except for its opening and the formal nature of the final movement), and if the melodic treatment is typical of the composer, there is greater emphasis on rhythmic variety and less on lyrical ambience.

Of his concertos for other solo instruments, the two for cello are especially effective. The Concierto en modo galante (1949) is particularly lyrical, while the Concierto como un divertimento (1981-1982) has an instantly appealing opening movement, with the rhythmic flow (reminiscent of Sibelius's Karelia Suite) combined with colourfully Spanish brass and sinuous cello. The andante nostalgico has unusual orchestral and harmonic effects, with high string, woodwind and tuned percussion figures creating a background tapestry for the lyrical soloist, far distant in technique if not in atmosphere from the earlier works. Throughout the solo writing is virtuoso, with an exceptionally difficult cadenza in the slow movement, including quadruple stopping. It is difficult not to warm to this appealing score. The Concierto de estio (Summer Concerto, 1943) for violin and orchestra was intended to echo the style of Vivaldi, with a rich slow movement in the form of variations. The Concierto-Serenata (1954) for harp and orchestra is delicate and charming, while the shorter Sones en la giralda (1963) for harp and orchestra is an indication of the development of Rodrigo's harmonic language, initially far from traditional tonality while retaining its base, lyrical and flowing, and in one long restrained sweep moving towards more conventional and unboundedly happy material - a rare and valuable addition to the repertoire for harp and orchestra, and beautiful in its own right. The Concierto pastoral (1978) for flute and orchestra is a showcase for the soloist with a kind of child's innocence to the music. The tart opening of the first movement develops into a march with the soloist treated like a very busy fife. The pastoral mood of the title emerges in the slow movement, languid and haunting, much in the style of the Concierto de Aranjuez, and there is rustic quality, against chirping flute, to the dances of the final movement.

Of his vocal works, the influence of motets, Gregorian chant and Castilian folk-song surfaced in Música para un Códice Salmantino sobre letra de Miguel de Unamuno (1943) for bass, chorus and eleven instruments, as well as the ambiguous tonality that was increasingly an element in parts of his later works. Ausencias de Dulcinea (1948) for bass, four sopranos, and large orchestra, is one of his major works, based on Don Quixote, while there are a number of Catalan settings, includingTriptico de Mosén Cinto (1946) and Cuarte cançons en llengua catalana (1946), both for voice and orchestra. This aspect of Rodrigo's output needs to be heard outside Spain.

Música para un jardin (Music for a Garden, 1923, 1957) for orchestra reworks four earlier cradle songs for piano, with the titles of the four seasons, a short beguiling and atmospheric score, with delicate orchestration including tuned percussion. A late oddity is the symphonic poem A la busca del más allá (In search of the beyond, 1978), which has something of the quality of an imaginary neo-Romantic film-score with soaring strings and fluttering flutes combined with some Spanish colour - indeed some passages are strongly reminiscent ofVaughan Williams's Sinfonia Antartica. In his piano music, Rodrigo also looked back to the Spanish musical heritage, especially that of the keyboard sonatas of the 18th century. The Cinco Sonatas de Castilla con Toccata a modo de Prégon (1950-1951) is an attempt to restore the sonata tradition to a more modern setting. Earlier piano works, such as the Tres Danzas de España (1941) or A l'Ombre de Torre Bermeja (1945) follow the lead of Albéniz. His solo guitar music ranges from the early Zarabande lejana ( Distant Zarabande, written before 1927) that shows his early neo-classical interests (harking back to the lute music of the 16th-century Luis Milán), to the restrained classicism of the Tres piezas españoles (1954).

Rodrigo was the first holder of the Manuel de Falla Chair at Madrid University (1947), and among his many honours he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Alfonso X the Wise by the Spanish government in 1953.


works include:

- Concierto en modo galante andConcierto como un divertimento for cello and orch.; Concierto de Aranjuez and Concierto para una fiesta for guitar and orch.; Concierto madrigal for 2 guitars and orch.;Concierto Andaluz for 4 guitars and orch.; Sones en la Giralda for harp and orch.

- A la busca del más allá, Juglares, Música para un jardin and Per la flor del lliri blau for orch.

- Siciliana for cello and piano; Sonata pimpante for violin and piano

- Invocación y danza, Sonata a la española and Tres piezas españolas for guitar; Tonadilla for 2 guitars; A l'ombre de Torre Bermeja,Cinco Sonatas de Castilla con Toccata a modo de Prégon,4 estampas andaluzas, 4 piezas, Suite, and Tres danzas de España for piano

- song cycles Cuarte cançons en llengua catalana andTriptico de Mosén Cinto for low voice and orch.; song cycles10 canciones españolas, 4 canciones sefardies, 4 madrigales amatorios and 3 villancicos for low voice and piano; Ausencias de Dulcinea for bass, four sopranos, and orch.; Música para un Códice Salmantino sobre letra de Miguel de Unamuno for bass, chorus and eleven instruments; other songs and vocal works

- ballet Pavana Real

- zarzuela El hijo fingido; opera La azucena de Quito


recommended works:

Concierto de Aranjuez (1939) for guitar and orchestra

Concierto en modo galante (1949) for cello and orchestra

Concierto madrigal (1967) for 2 guitars and orchestra

Música para un jardin (1923-1957) for orchestra

Sones en la Giralda (1963) for harp and orchestra

Four Shepherd Songs (1963) for voice and piano



F. Sopea Joaquín Rodrigo, 1970 (in Spanish)


TÓRROBA Federico Moreno

born 3rd March 1891 at Madrid

died 12th September 1982 at Madrid


A conductor as well as a composer, Frederico Tórroba was a leading figure in the revival of the Spanish guitar as a serious concert instrument, writing over 100 guitar works for such virtuosi as Segovia and Narciso Yepes. However, he first attracted attention with two orchestral works,La ajorca de oro (The Bracelet of Gold, 1918) and Zoraida (1919), which, together with similar works by such composers as Turina, helped revive purely orchestral music in Spain. The descriptive orchestral pieces continued withCuadros (Scenes) and Cuadros Castellanos ( Castilian Scenes). The Gardens of Grenada combines rather jaunty dance ideas with evocation, in a neo-classical atmosphere. In general the idiom is tonal, straightforward, but with a mastery of restrained orchestration, guitar textures and techniques, and an integration of the Spanish inheritance with a personal reflective idiom.

However, it is through his guitar works that he most likely to be encountered. Of his guitar concertos, the Concierto de Castilla is pleasant easy listening, avoiding overt Spanish clichés, although the Flamenco Concerto uneasily mixes flamboyant flamenco with orchestral treatment. The most successful is the Homenaje a la seguidilla (1962) for guitar and orchestra, attractive and often thoughtful. It is a tribute to flamenco amalgamated with his restrained Romantic style, at times flamboyant without being strident, prepared to wander on occasion into some unusual harmonies, and with a particularly grateful part for the soloist. The Spanish idiom is to the fore, but with lucid and restrained orchestral colours, demonstrating Tórroba's skill in scoring, and combining the tunes of La Mancha with the classic seguidilla dance style of Andalusia. His later works included the six-movement Estampas for six guitars, the concerto for four guitars and orchestra Concierto Iberico (1976), making full use of the concertante opportunities of the four soloists, theTonada concertante for four guitars and orchestra and Diálogos (1974) for guitar and orchestra.

Besides his writing for guitar, Tórroba scored successes in Spain with his zarzuelas (popular operas), notably Luisa Fernanda (1932) which was performed over 8,000 times in the next three decades, and is an entertaining example of the genre. Tórroba was vice-president of the Association of Spanish Composers, Director of the Royal Academy des Beaux Arts de Madrid, and for ten years a critic for the Madrid daily paperInformaciones. He conducted a recording of the Homenaje a la Seguidilla at the age of 91.


works include:

- guitar concertos Concierto de Castilla,Concierto en flamenco and Homenaje a la seguidilla;Concerto Iberico for four guitars and orch.; Tonada concertante for four guitars and orch.; Diálogos for guitar and orch.

- La ajorca de oro, Cuadros, Cuadros Castellanos , Gardens of Grenada and Zoraida for orch.

- Estampas for six guitar and many works for solo guitar

- zarzuela operas including Luisa Fernanada


recommended works:

Homenaje a la seguidilla (1962) for guitar and orchestra


TURINA Joaquín

born 9th December 1882 at Seville

died 14th January 1949 at Madrid


Turina was an unashamedly descriptive composer of some importance in Spain for his evocations of the Spanish heritage, and, with Albéniz, Falla and other lesser composers, for forging a national style that moved away from the dominance of the musical stage to orchestral and chamber music. His harmonically conservative idiom developed little, though he attempted to combine the orchestral descriptive lessons learnt in a stay in Paris (studying with d'Indy in 1906) to his own inheritance (encouraged by Albéniz), especially that of his native Andalusia. His early chamber music follows turn-of-the-century French models (especially those of César Franck, as in thePiano Quintet, 1907, or the Violin Sonata No.1). The String Quartet (1911) is cyclical (themes returning in each movement to provide unity) in the style propounded by d'Indy. The Piano Trio No.2 op.76 (1933), though later, is nonetheless typical, pleasantly lyrical, well crafted, but completely undemanding.

However, he first came to notice with La Procesión del Rocio (1913), a vivid tone-poem describing a festive religious festival in Seville, with lively orchestration and local pseudo-folk tunes (including a Moorish touch), rhythms and colour. The Danzas Fantásticas (1920) for orchestra is probably his best-known work, in three evocative sections (especially the middle Ensueño with its lilting main melody) and with opportunities for solo orchestral virtuosity. The Rapsodia sinfónica (1931) for piano and string orchestra is also occasionally heard. It is in virtuoso style, as if written by a SpanishRachmaninov crossed with a Spanish Gershwin, with a dramatic opening and lushly lyrical. With figurations for the piano sometimes echoing guitar work, it is attractive and often glittering without any profundity.

Many of Turina's works reflect his love of Seville, though after his return from France he never actually lived there. The Sinfonia Sevillana (1921) has some gorgeously evocative moments, though the lush idiom teeters dangerously on the brink of becoming sentimental. The form is again cyclical. But his finest work is the song-cycle Canto a Sevilla (1926) for soprano and piano or orchestra (but much more effective in its orchestral version), moving and evocative, sometimes dramatic, sometimes Impressionistic. His characteristic idiom here takes on a deeper intensity, especially in the opening song, and the solo line combines something of the rawness of genuine folk-music with a soaring lyrical feel. Orchestral (or piano) sections intersperse the songs; similarly the less impressive but still evocative Poema en forma de canciones (1918) for high voice and piano opens with a piano solo, and mixes Spanish and French idioms.

Turina's extensive piano music (he himself was a renowned pianist) occupies an important place in his output, although neglected outside Spain. Again, many are cycles of shorter descriptive pieces evoking various aspects of Spain or of Seville. Among his other scores is the unusual The Muses of Andalusia (1942) for soprano, piano and string quartet, each of whose nine movements describes one of the Muses against an Andalusian background, each scored differently.

Turina was for many years an influential critic for Madrid's El Debate. He taught at the Madrid Conservatory (1930-1931) and served in the Ministry of Education under Franco.


works include:

- Sinfonia sevillana

- Rapsodia sinfónica for piano and orch.

- Danzas Fantasticas, La Procesion del Rocio and other works for orch.

- 2 piano trios; Circulo for piano trio; string quartet De la guitarra; La Oracion del Torero for lute quartet (also arranged for string orch. or string quartet); piano quintet and other chamber works; large body of piano works

- song cycles Canto a Sevilla and Poema en forma de canciones; other vocal works

- operas and other musical

- dramatic works; film scores


recommended works:

Canto a Sevilla (1926) for mezzo-soprano and orchestra

Danzas Fantasticas (1920) (piano version)


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