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DeFALLA, Manuel

DeFALLA, Manuel
Manuel DeFalla

One of the most prolific and original Spanish composers. He studied with Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922), as did most of the great Spanish composers of that period, including Falla, Granados and Turina. Most of them continued their studies in Paris, and became influenced by their French contemporaries, Dukas, Debussy, Ravel. Albeniz began as a virtuoso pianist, touring constantly. He was four years old when he gave his first piano recital. At nine he applied to the Paris Conservatoire, but was refused admission because of his youth. Upon hearing the news he ran away from home to start a life of constant adventures and travel on his own. After touring all of Spain, he used his concerts' income to travel to America, giving recitals in the West Coast, and in Cuba. Having done all this touring and concertizing by himself, and saved sufficient funds, he returned to Europe at the age of thirteen. With those savings he went to study in England and Germany before returning to Spain. There, a new Royal grant made it possible for Albeniz to again continue his travels, and once again he toured America, even more extensively than before. Still a teen-ager, he then went on to Paris, his dream destination, to study composition with Debussy, Dukas and D'Indy. Besides his prolific piano music, Albeniz wrote operas, sometimes with English librettos.MANUEL DE FALLA was born in 1876 in Cadiz, the historical seaport town at the southern-most tip of Andalucia, and is considered the greatest Spanish composer of this century. He studied composition with Felipe Pedrell, the teacher and scholar who led the revival of Spanish music which took place towards the end of the nineteenth century. In 1904 Falla's one-act opera La vida breve (Life is Short) won the composition competition of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes and at the same time he was awarded a prestigious piano prize organised by the piano makers Ortiz y Cussó.

In 1907 he achieved a long-held ambition of travelling to Paris and was welcomed there by Ravel, Debussy (with whom he had previously corresponded) and especially by Paul Dukas. He completed several chamber works and began work on Noches en los Jardines de Espãna (Nights in Gardens of Spain) before the outbreak of war in 1914 compelled him to return to his native country. In 1915 the ballet El Amor Brujo (Love the Magician), with its ghostly story of gypsy jealousy, was first staged in Madrid. Subsequentlyr he was approached by Diaghilev to write a work for the Russian Ballet and in response composed a mime-play in two tableaux, El Corregidor y la Molinera (The Magistrate and the Miller's Wife) which, with some subsequent revisions, became El Sombrero de Tres Picos (The Three-Cornered Hat), and was produced highly successfully in London in 1919 with choreography by Massine and designs by Picasso. Following the end of the Civil War . he moved to Argentina and worked there until his death in 1946 just a few days before his 70th birthday, leaving the vast oratorio Atlántida still unfinished.

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