Manuel de Falla was a Spanish composer and pianist who lived from 1876-1946. His early musical training was with the piano which he continued to study while at the conservatory in Madrid, earning there first prize in a piano competition. But it was also during his time at the conservatory that he began to develop his compositional skills. While there he entered several compositions in contests that gained him notoriety as an upcoming composer.
He was interested in native Andalusian music, an area in Spain, south of the Iberian Peninsula, and in particular the Andalusian Flamenco dance. Other influences on his work came from the time he spent in Paris during the early part of the 20th century. While living there he heard the music of Ravel, Debussy and Dukas, which influenced his own writing style. He also met Igor Stravinsky and made a brief excursion to London.
He eventually returned to Spain, and while living in Granada composed many different types of pieces including a puppet opera and a harpsichord concerto- the first to be written in the 20th century. He moved to Argentina in 1939 after Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War. He died while living in Argentina but his remains were brought back to Spain and he is entered in the Cathedral of Cadiz. While not a prolific composer, his music continues to speak to us today, with the flavors and rhythms of Spanish culture
The piece you will be listening to this week is called Ritual Fire Dance, which comes from a ballet called, Bewitched Love, for which he wrote the music. Ritual Fire Dance exhibits the drive and energy so characteristic of de Falla’s music. It is played by Mauricio Nader. The second link is to an orchestral version of this same piece.