Enrique Granados Biography

(Spanish Pianist and Composer Known for His Works: ‘Goyescas’, ‘Spanish Dances’, and ‘María del Carmen’)

Birthday: July 27, 1867 (Leo)

Born In: Lleida, Spain

Enrique Granados was a Spanish pianist and composer best known for writing successful piano pieces such as Goyescas. Born into an affluent military family, Enrique was interested in learning music at an early age. He had his education as a pianist and a composer in Paris and Barcelona. Upon his return to Barcelona, he began his career as a professional pianist and composer. With his successful piano pieces and operas such as 12 Danzas espanolas and Maria del Carmen respectively, he quickly became one of the most sought after composers and piano teachers in Spain. In the early 1900s, he also opened his own piano school and taught there till the end of his life. One of his most special and widely known piano pieces was Goyescas, which was also turned into an opera later. It was performed in the USA to a grand success. However, it turned out to be his last major success as Enrique passed away when his boat was torpedoed by Germany during the First World War in 1916. In his lifetime, he was deemed one of the leaders of Spanish nationalism in music.

Quick Facts

Spanish Celebrities Born In July

Also Known As: Pantaleón Enrique Joaquín Granados y Campiña, Enric Granados

Died At Age: 48


Spouse/Ex-: Amparo

father: Calixto Granados

mother: Enriqueta Campiña

children: Enric Granados Natàlia Granados Eduard Granados Francesc Granados Solita Granados, Víctor Granados

Born Country: Spain

Pianists Composers

Died on: March 24, 1916

Cause of Death: Drowning

Childhood & Early Life

Enrique Granados was born Pantaleón Enrique Joaquín Granados y Campiña, on July 27, 1867, in Lleida, Spain. His parents were Calixto José de la Trinidad Granados y Armenteros and Enriqueta Elvira Campiña de Herrera. His father was a Spanish army captain originally fom Havana, Cuba, while his mother was from Santander, Spain.

His family moved to Barcelona when he was a child. Interested in playing the piano from an early age, Enrique began taking piano lessons in Barcelona from teachers such as  Francisco Jurnet and Joan Baptista Pujol. After his early education in playing the instrument, he aimed at getting enrolled at the Paris Conservatory. However, he was unable to enrol in it. His father arranged for private tutors for him, such as De Beriot. Under his guidance, Enrique quickly honed his skills as a pianist.

In Barcelona, his teacher was Felipe Pedrell. Felipe was best known as the father of nationalism in Spanish music. Inspired by the form of music, Enrique will work a great deal in the genre. He quickly got well versed in tone production and improvisation. His time in Paris left the biggest career in his later career. After completing his training in 1889, he moved to Barcelona to begin his career as a professional composer and pianist.

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After returning to Barcelona, Enrique embarked on a dual career as a pianist and a composer. For his piano performances, he collaborated with a young violinist named Crickboom and Pablo Casals. Enrique quickly became well known in the Spanish music circles and within one year after returning to his home country, he held his first recital. It successfully launched his career.

As an opera composer, his first international recognition came with María del Carmen. It was a three-act opera that was composed in the late 1890s. Despite it becoming a major success in its time, it is largely forgotten today. However, several historians still claim that it was his best opera performance to date.

The opera premiered in November 1898 in Madrid and was an immediate success with the critics and the audiences. It kept on playing until January 1899. However, when it was performed again in Barcelona in May 1899, it did not receive as good a response. Slowly, its charm faded away until it was completely forgotten. During its heydays, the opera was praised by the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII himself.

Following the success of the opera, he was bestowed with the Order of Carlos III, a Spanish knighthood. It was given to him by the supportive government of Spain. Encouraged by all the success, Enrique kept working and within the next five years, he composed two more operas.

As a pianist also, his popularity was reaching new heights as time passed. His 12 Danzas españolas, a piano piece, became hugely popular.

In 1900, Enrique started his own classical concerts society. Meanwhile, the music society that he had formed was short-lived but it was successful during its short run. It also gave Enrique all the confidence that he needed to build his own piano school, and he did the next year. His piano school was a big success and produced many great piano players. Enrique worked and taught in his piano school until his death.

Another major turning point in his life arrived in 1903. That year, he heard of a competition organized by Tomás Bretón of the Madrid Royal Conservatory. Enrique participated in the competition and submitted his solo piano piece Allegro de Concierto, Op. 46. It ended up winning the first prize at the competition, which was a sum of 500 pesetas along with immense glory. This was the win that brought Enrique into the national consciousness and he thus became a national icon.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Enrique was at the very peak of his popularity, owing to some great work composing small piano pieces. One of his most celebrated works from this era was the piano suite titled Goyescas. It was performed for the first time in 1911 in Spain and was an immediate critical and commercial success. It passed another litmus test when it was performed in Paris in 1914. Again, it was embraced by the fans and the music community with an open heart.

The piano suite was so popular that Enrique was asked to convert it into an opera by Paris Opera, which he did gladly. He presented his ideas for the operatic rendition of the piece, the libretto for which was to be given by Fernando Periquet. It was accepted by the Paris Opera in the same year but due to the outbreak of the First World War, its production was halted midway.

When Paris Opera denied its production, the Metropolitan Opera came to Enrique’s side. The opera was completed and was performed for the first time in 1916, in New York City. It was a huge success. However, despite its success, the Opera could not hold its place in history and disappeared into oblivion a few years after it was launched.

Enrique had already established himself as one of the greatest Spanish pianists of the early 20th century. Most of his piano pieces adhered to the Catalan and Spanish folk idiom. His works as a composer can be divided into three parts. First was the romantic style, the second nationalistic and the final period of his body of work is known as the Goya period. In the Goya period, he composed music inspired by Francesco de Goya’s paintings.

His later piano works such as Trio, Madrigal and Military March exhibited his range as a pianist of the nationalist sentiment. He established himself as a leader of the nationalist movement in the Spanish music of the time.

Personal Life & Death

Enrique Granados married Amparo Gal in 1892. The couple stayed married until they died in 1916. The couple had six children together.

When he performed the opera Goyescas in New York, he was set to return to Spain. But he missed the boat owing to an invitation by President Wilson. He decided to take another boat to England. However, it turned out to be a fatal decision and Enrique and his wife became victims of a German attack on the boat as the First World War was raging at that time.

Enrique passed away at the prime of his career on March 24, 1916.

His personal documents are preserved at the National Library of Catalonia, in Barcelona.

See the events in life of Enrique Granados in Chronological Order

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