Isaac Manuel Francisco Albeniz Pascual was a renowned Spanish composer and piano maestro, who is respected all over the world for his piano works based on folk music. His piano compositions were so popular that many of them were adapted to other musical instruments like guitar. Musical pieces like Astrurias, Granada, and Sevilla etc. are examples of such adaptations. Albeniz’s compositions made Spanish music popular internationally and influenced the successive generations of musicians. He travelled across many countries, composed and performed many successful works and thus, became popular all over the world securing a place in the hearts of all music lovers. A student of renowned music academies like Leipzig Conservatory and Royal conservatory, Albeniz was very passionate about music. His works are studied and performed even today. An academy called ‘Fundacion Isaac Albeniz’ was founded to facilitate research on Spanish music and Albeniz’s works. Read the following biography to learn more about this musical maestro.
Albeniz was born to Angel Albenis and Dolors Pascual on May 29, 1860. His father, Angel Albeniz was a customs officer. Albeniz was a child prodigy; his parents realized his musical talents at his early ages and arranged music tuition for him. He gave his first performance at the age of four. He received his music lessons from famous French Pianist Antoine François Marmontel. He passed the entrance examination for piano at Paris Conservatoire at seven but, the authorities denied to enroll him, as they thought he was too young to take up piano lessons there. Young Albeniz, at the age of nine, started giving concerts. His father was very supportive and arranged a musical tour for his son throughout Spain. By age 15, Albeniz travelled many countries, gave many performances and received wide acclamations. After a brief stay at Leipzig Conservatory, the famous German music academy he went to study at Royal Conservatory, Brussels, for which he obtained royal grant due to the kind initiative taken by the Guillermo Morphy, secretary to King Alonso of Brussels. As a thankful gesture, Albeniz dedicated his work to Morphy. Albeniz also dedicated his work, ‘Sevilla’ to Morphy’s wife.
Career And Success
Albeniz was greatly influenced by his teacher Felip Pedrell, a famous composer. It was due to Pedrell’s inspiration that Albeniz wrote ‘Chants d’Espagne’. Albeniz’s career reached its peak during the period between 1889 and 1892. He toured throughout entire Europe during these years. Albeniz settled in Paris in 1890s. He wrote some musical comedies as well, which turned out to be big successes and caught attention of Francis Money-Coutts, 5th Baron Latymer. Monet-Coutts then provided Albeniz with librettos for Henry Clifford and also for the trilogy of Arthurian Operas.
Albeniz tied knot with his student Rosina Jordana in 1883 and the couple had three children. Blanca, his eldest daughter, died in 1886. His second daughter Laura was a painter and his youngest son Alfonso was passionate about sports and played for Real Madrid in early 1900s. Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, former mayor of Madrid, and Cécilia Attias, former wife of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, are great-grandchildren of Albeniz.
Albeniz’s health started to deteriorate during 1900s. He suffered from Bright’s disease. After falling sick, he started writing piano music, putting an end to his performances. He composed his last masterpiece, a suite of twelve piano impressions, ‘Iberia’ in 1908. He died on May 18, 1909, aged 48.
Albeniz played an important role in taking Spanish music to great heights. As a token of appreciation, a research center named ‘Fundacion Isaac Albeniz’ was founded to promote Spanish music and to facilitate researches in Spanish music.
Albeniz’s adopted Salon style of compositions in his early works. He was greatly influenced by the traditional composition styles followed by famous musicians like Beethoven, Bach, Chopin etc. Some of his famous works are given below:
- The magic opal
- Pepita Jiménez
- Lancelot (unfinished: 1st act complete)
- Cuanto más viejo. Lost music.
- El canto de salvación. Lost music.
- La real hembra.
- Tres suites antiguas
- Chants d'Espagne, Op.232
- Suite española, op. 97. 4 pieces: Zaragoza, Sevilla, Cadix-gaditana, and Zambra granadina
- Cristo, oratorio
- Rapsodia española (Spanish rhapsody), for piano and orchestra
- Catalonia, symphonic poem