Cristobal Halffter

Biography

Born: March 24, 1930; Madrid, Spain  
Cristobal Halffter is among the more important Spanish composers of the twentieth and twenty first centuries and easily among the Iberian Peninsula's most adventurous as well. He evolved quickly from the conservative Falla-tinged style of his youth to the post-Webern modernism of his middle- and late-years. He delved into neo-Classicism early on, then dabbled in serial music, aleatoric, and electronic techniques, and finally fused multiple styles Read more together, often calling upon styles from the distant past. Arguably, Halffter was the leading avant-garde Spanish composer of the mid-twentieth century, and probably must be regarded as one of the most influential as well. His orchestral work Microformas (1959-1960) helped usher in a new era in Spanish music, both shocking audiences and critics and stimulating his fellow composers to look toward the future. Halffter composed in most genres, including ballet, opera, symphonic (including a variety of concertos), chamber, vocal, choral, and various instrumental works.

Cristobal Halffter was born on March 24, 1930, in Madrid, Spain. His uncles, Ernesto Halffter and Rodolfo Halftter, were also well-known Spanish composers. Of the three Halftters, Ernesto is probably the more popular, while Cristobal is considered the more influential.

Cristobal's family fled the Spanish revolution and lived in Germany until 1939. He studied at Madrid's Real Conservatorio de Música, where his most important composition teacher was Conrado del Campo. Halftter graduated in 1951 and two years later attracted critical attention with his Piano Concerto, which was awarded the National Music Prize in 1954.

Halffter was appointed conductor of the Cadiz-based Manuel de Falla Orchestra in 1955, holding the post until 1963. In 1964 he became director of the Madrid Real Conservatorio, where he had served as professor of composition since 1960. Halffter's compositional style remained in the vanguard of modernism in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time he also composed several works relating to human rights, such as the massive 1968 choral work Yes, speak out, yes.

By the 1980s Halffter had settled into a less aggressive compositional manner, employing styles out of the past, as in the 1981 Fantasia para una sonoridad de G.F. Haendel, for string orchestra. In 1989 Halffter took on the post of principal guest conductor of the National Orchestra, Madrid. He remained active as a composer and conductor. Among his works are the opera Don Quixote (2000) and Attendite, for cello octet (2003). Read less
Browse 1-5 of 5 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Rostropovich Plays Cello Works
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 447036 Release Date: 03/25/2008   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Marcel Landowski,  Rodion Shchedrin,  Renaud Gagneux,  Alun Hoddinott  ... 
    Performer:  Galina Vishnevskaya,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Hugh Seenan,  Layton James  ... 
    Conductor:  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Seiji Ozawa,  Kent Nagano,  Cristobal Halffter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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    CD: $62.49
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  • 2.
    Halffter: Parafrasis, Cello Concerto / Halffter, Rostropovich
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 75320 Release Date: 12/10/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Cristobal Halffter
    Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Conductor:  Cristobal Halffter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 3.
    Cristobal Halffter: Orchestral Works
    Label: Col Legno   Catalog: 20204 Release Date: 01/30/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Cristobal Halffter
    Conductor:  Cristobal Halffter
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    CD: $17.99
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  • 4.
    Henze: Ode an der Westwind, Neapolitan Songs, Dithyrambs / Halffter, Rivinius
    Label: Arte Nova   Catalog: 894040 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hans Werner Henze
    Performer:  Gustav Rivinius,  Roland Hermann
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski,  Cristobal Halffter,  Günther Wich
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
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    CD: $8.99
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  • 5.
    Cristobal Halffter: Siete Cantos De Espana
    Label: Col Legno   Catalog: 31867 Release Date: 01/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Cristobal Halffter
    Performer:  Maria Oran,  Simon Preece
    Conductor:  Cristobal Halffter
    On sale! $20.98
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