Notes and Editorial Reviews
Leonardo Balada, the Catalan composer who came to New York in 1956 to study composition, has been a powerful creative force for more than three decades. His highly personal avant-garde techniques in the sixties - dramatically as well as rhythmically imposing - sets his works like Guernica and Maria Sabina apart from composers of the time. Later, in the seventies, he was credited as a pioneer in blending the avant-garde with folkloric ideas mixing the new with the old- now a very fashionable trend- in works like Sinfonia en Negro-Homage to Martin Luther King (1968) and Homage to Casals and Sarasate (1975). His exposure to the plastic arts in New York was perhaps of greater significance to his style than the music he heard around him. In Balada's music one finds by his own admission a perplexing amalgamation of traditional Spanish culture influenced by modern concepts of geometric art, "collages" as seen in the paintings of Rauschenberg and the surrealism of Salvador Dali. Balada had collaborated several times in New York during the early sixties. In an interview over a generation ago Balada explained his position towards this dichotomy saying: "If I go to Andalusia and choose to wear a "Cordobes" hat, or a cowboy hat in Texas or no hat at all on Wall Street, I still will be recognized as me, provided that my personality emerges in spite of my disguise." And his works are very personal indeed, through textural writing, blunt contrasts of ideas and dynamics, juxtaposition of opposing harmonies, mechanistic passages in layers of "staccato" writing, a rhythmic constancy and above all, a compelling sense of direction and goal in the form and drama of his music.