Donald Macleod introduces music that reflects Granados's and Albeniz's pianistic concerns.
Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados stand at the head of a generation of composers who breathed new life into Spanish music. Having emerged from the Napoleonic wars and years of civil unrest, by the mid nineteenth century Spain was experiencing a period of social and cultural transition. The demand for piano music among the upwardly mobile bourgeois classes created opportunity for composer-pianists like Albéniz and Granados. Capitalising on the popularity of their early salon works, drawn from Chopin and the German romantics, they became part of the development of a national style of music, internationally acclaimed for their achievements.
Albéniz's childhood and training are confused by contradictory stories. Part of the blame for this lies with his early biographers, but at least some of the tales were encouraged by Albéniz himself. Whether or not he did, or didn't, and now it seems that he didn't, meet the great master of the piano, Liszt, in Budapest is one of many such examples. What is known for sure is that Albéniz's professional career as a gifted pianist began at the tender age of 8, touring the Spanish provinces with his sister Clementina. In between these recital tours, made necessary by his civil servant father's unemployment, Albéniz studied in Paris, Brussels and Leipzig.
Like Albéniz, Granados, who was 7 years younger, studied piano with Joan Pujol, before spending two years in Paris studying privately at the Conservatoire. His professional career as a solo pianist began in his twenties, and again like Albéniz, his talents were well received. In both cases, pianistic skill proved an effective way of bringing their music to the public's attention.
Donald Macleod introduces a selection of works that reflect Albéniz and Granados' pianistic concerns.
Albeniz and Granados's involvement in the quest for a Spanish national style of music.
The Spanish musicologist Felipe Pedrell's manifesto proposing a school of music that would draw on Spain's musical heritage, stimulated heated discussions among the country's leading musicians. Albéniz and Granados who had studied with Pedrell independently of each other, became part of that dialogue, finding inspiration for their own work in the folk music and history of Spanish music. With Donald Macleod
Donald Macleod focuses on Albeniz and Granados's waltzes, mazurkas and chamber music.
While composers such as Liszt, who toured Spain to great acclaim in 1844, came home eager to infuse their music with Spanish melodies and rhythms, Albéniz and Granados' piano music reflects their Spanish roots and the romantic music of Mendelssohn, Schubert, Chopin and Fauré; works they grew up with and continued to perform as piano recitalists. Presented by Donald Macleod
In 1890 Albéniz moved to London and then Paris, where he became a popular member of musical circles, playing and organising concerts, composing and teaching. In Spain, concert life in Barcelona was booming, so Granados was able to make full use of its possibilities. On top of his teaching, administrative and solo career, he expanded his roles to include conductor, concert organiser and adjudicator. Donald Macleod introduces music which reflects the two composers' various interests, from the impressionistic to the virtuosic.
Donald Macleod explores Albeniz's masterpiece Iberia and Granados's tribute to Goya.
During the final years of his life and now in failing health, Albéniz divided his time between Nice, Paris and Tiana. Remarkably his frailty didn't diminish his powers of composition. He produced a remarkable final statement, his masterpiece Iberia, a cycle of piano pieces that evoke different aspects of Spain. It was Spain's heritage that spoke to Granados. A talented cartoonist himself, he produced two sets of piano works "Goyescas", inspired by the cartoons depicting scenes of everyday life in Madrid created by the artist Francesco Goya. Presented by Donald Macleod