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Enrique Granados

Biography

Born: 1867   Died: 1916   Country: Spain   Period: Romantic
One of the most colorful turn-of-the-century Spanish musicians, composer and pianist Enrique Granados is best remembered for his evocative solo piano works; his output also includes a great deal of orchestral music and six operas (only the last of which has gained any fame). Born in 1867 to an officer in the Spanish army, Granados received his first musical instruction from an army bandmaster. Further studies in Barcelona with Jurnet (piano) and Read more Pedrell (composition) prepared the young musician for a brief but highly influential stay in Paris (1887-1889), during which Granados worked under well-known Parisian pianist and teacher Charles de Bériot (son of the famous violinist of the same name). Granados' earliest mature work, the Valses poéticos of 1887, was completed around this time.

After returning to Barcelona in 1890 Granados spent the next decade building a dual career as pianist and composer, forming a successful piano trio with Belgian violinist Crickboom and the young Pablo Casals. His first opera, Maria del Carmen, was well received at its premiere in 1898, after which the Order of Carlos III (a Spanish knighthood) was bestowed upon Granados by a supportive government. Granados was quick to follow up on this success, and two more operas were produced in the next five years.

For the 1900 season Granados founded the Society of Classical Concerts (Sociedad de Conciertos Clásicos) in Barcelona, which, although short-lived, gave him the confidence to create his own piano school the following year (known as the Granados School, or Academia Granados). The school was a success, and Granados maintained his involvement with it until his death.

Granados was one of the great pianists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Virtually all his music relies heavily on the Catalan and Spanish folk idiom (e.g. Twelve Spanish Pieces, or Six Pieces on Spanish Popular Songs), which, along with fellow Spaniard Isaac Albéniz, Granados was instrumental in bringing to the attention of the contemporary European musical establishment. Goyescas, begun in 1902 but not finished until 1911, is perhaps his mightiest achievement. (Granados also produced an opera by the same name -- both the pianistic and operatic incarnations of the work take the striking visuals of Goya as their inspiration.)

In 1916, while returning from the U.S.A. (where the opera Goyescas had received a New York premiere on January 26, 1916, and where Granados had performed in the White House for President Wilson), the liner Sussex was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Among the casualties were Granados and his wife of 24 years. Read less
Spanish Classics - Granados: Spanish Dances / Brotons
Release Date: 06/18/2002   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8555956   Number of Discs: 1
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Granados, Falla, Llobet, Rodrigo, Pujol / Anabel Montesinos
Release Date: 09/27/2011   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572843   Number of Discs: 1
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Canciones Espanolas -  Granados, Falla, Turina / Danielle Talamantes, Henry Dehlinger
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Msr  
Catalog: 1476   Number of Discs: 1
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Granados: Twelve Spanish Dances / Rosa Torres-pardo
Release Date: 12/01/1998   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8554313   Number of Discs: 1
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Granados: Piano Music Vol 2 - Goyescas / Douglas Riva
Release Date: 11/30/1999   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8554403   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Danzas (12) españolas for Piano, Op. 37: no 5, Andaluza

 

About This Work
This may be the single most popular piece written by Granados. In its original piano version, it stands out among the 12 works comprising the "Spanish Dances" when appearing on countless recital programs and recordings. But versions for Read more guitar are as plentiful in both these venues and there are also popular renditions for violin and piano, voice and piano or orchestra, for band, and for other assorted combinations of instruments. Of course, these transcriptions were done by another hand, but many capture the spirit of the piano original nonetheless. That said, none are ultimately quite as effective. The piano is better suited to the colorful thematic material and brilliantly captures the contrasts in mood, from the spiky rhythms of the opening to the nocturnal mystery of the slower version of the main theme. Guitar versions are nearly as convincing, but lack the muscle of the keyboard and in places, sound relatively tame in conveying the rougher edges of this subtly atmospheric and utterly Spanish music. Segovia played the arrangement by Guillermo Gomez, which is also used by many other guitarists who perform the work. Violin/piano versions of Andaluza can often possess as much muscle and atmosphere as the piano original, but out of necessity must add music. David Oistrakh and other violinists played the arrangement by Fritz Kreisler (who undoubtedly also performed it himself) and while it is quite effective, purists will object to any embellishments in this masterful gem. Vocal versions are both the least common and least faithful to the original score. Tito Schipa, a well-known tenor from the first half of the twentieth century, sang his own arrangement of the piece using piano accompaniment and it was a fairly imaginative treatment. Later versions for voice and orchestra tend to both fatten and sweeten the music, if not substantially change its character.

-- Robert Cummings
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