Andalucia: A Merging of Tradition and Modernity A May Term travel seminar to southern Spain

Andalucia: A Merging of Tradition and Modernity

Cultural Titans – Music and Poetry

Manuel de Falla:


Manuel de Falla, illustrious Spanish composer

Falla was born Manuel María de los Dolores Falla y Matheu in Cádiz. He was the son of José María Falla and María Jesús Matheu. His first significant teachers were Alejandro Odero (piano) and Enrique Broca (harmony and counterpoint). He did not originally plan as a musician, however; at 15 he developed an interest in journalism and literature, founding the literary magazines El Burlón and El Cascabel. In 1900, he was living with his family in Madrid and attending the Real Conservatorio de Música y Declamación, studying piano and composition. A skilled pianist, he won the first prize in the piano competition at the school by unanimous vote and was busy premiering his first major works.

His first important work, La vida breve, was written in 1905 and premiered in 1913, winning him a competition with the promise of a production at the Teatro Royal in Madrid (this promise was unfortunately broken). Falla moved to Paris in 1907 and remained for seven years, meeting important composers such as Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Albéniz. When World War I began, he returned to Madrid, entering into his mature creative period at this stage of his life. Several of his best known pieces, including Nights in the Gardens of Spain, El amor brujo, and the ballet The Magistrate and the Miller’s Wife stem from this period.

Falla moved to Granada in 1921 and would remain for the next eighteen years, until 1939. In works from this period, including his puppet opera Master Peter’s Puppet Show and his Harpsichord Concerto, the Spanish folk influence is less apparent, replaced by a neo-classical feeling. He also began a large-scale cantata, entitled Atlantis, and based on a Catalan text. He was still working on this piece when he was forced to move to Argentina following Francisco Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War. He died seven years later, on November 14, 1946 in Argentina, but left a strong legacy of Spanish folk influence in his compositions, resulting in his lasting importance as one of the leading Spanish composers of the first half of the twentieth century.

Federico Garcia Lorca:


The brilliant, tragically short-lived poet and playwright Federico García Lorca


García Lorca was born on 5 June 1898, to Federico García Rodriguez and Vincenta Lorca Romero in a small town, Fuente Vaqueros, west of Granada in southern Spain. After Fuente Vaqueros, the family moved in 1905 to the nearby town of Valderrubio (at the time named Asquerosa). In 1909, when García Lorca was 11, his family moved to the regional capital of Granada; their best known residence there is the summer home known as the Huerta de San Vicente, on what was then the outskirts of the city of Granada. For the rest of his life, he maintained the importance of living close to the natural world, praising his upbringing in the country.

In 1915, after graduating from secondary school, García Lorca attended the University of Granada, studying law, literature, and composition. He had been a piano student for several years prior to attending the university and loved music; his first prose works drawn on musical forms. His first book, Impresiones y Paisajes, was printed at his father’s expense, and was based on his travels throughout Spain during 1916-17. He would later study at the University of Madrid, living in the Residencia de Estudiantes. At the Residencia, the young writer would befriend creative artists such as Buñuel and Dalí, and was taken under the wing of the poet Juan Ramón Jiménez.

García Lorca’s first book of poems was published in 1921, collecting work written from 1918 and selected with the help of his brother. They concern the themes of religious faith, isolation and nature that had filled his earlier writings. Over the next few years, he would become increasingly involved in the Spanish avant-garde, publishing his well known works Canciones and Romancero Gitano in this time. His second play, Mariana Pineda, with stage settings by Salvador Dalí, opened to great acclaim in Barcelona in 1927.

Unfortunately, his friendship with Dalí would become strained after he repeatedly made erotic advances that Dalí rejected. At this time, he was torn between the public persona of successful author and private anguish over his homosexuality. The estrangement between him and his friends caused his family to arrange for a lengthy visit to the United States in 1929. Upon his return to Spain, he would become involved with a theater company, La Barraca, which sought to bring theater to those who had never seen any throughout Spain. While touring with this group, García Lorca would write his best-known plays, the Rural Trilogy. He would write little poetry in this last period of his life, being entranced with the magic of theater. His last poetic work, Sonnets of Dark Love, would be published in 1936, just before his arrest and execution in August of 1936 by the facist militia at the start of the Spanish Civil War.


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