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Historical context


Catalan Composers at the beginning of the Twentieth Century

The social upheavals, aesthetic and political of the twentieth century marked the different generations of Catalan musicians. The most important artistic centers of Europe, especially Vienna and Paris, became the reference of the composers and performers. The current battle between the Germanic and French Catalan marked the creation of music before and after the disaster of the Spanish Civil War.

The avant-garde spirit that marked the creation of music of the twentieth century was inspired by the Second Viennese School, represented by Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern, and their new budgets with the twelve-tone harmonic systematized. The composer Robert Gerhard was the introducer of this new trend and the paradigmatic figure of tremendous shock when the Spanish Civil War to the musical life of Catalonia.

Robert Gerhard (1896-1970), disciple of Enric Granados and Felip Pedrell, linked the modernist avant-garde generation that came from the twenties of last century and developed during the Second Spanish Republic.

Robert Gerhard was one of the members of the Independent Composers of Catalonia (CIC), along with Manuel Blancafort, Ricard Lamote de Grignon, Joan Gibert Camins, Agustí Grau, Baltasar Samper, Eduard Toldrà and Frederic Mompou. The members of the CIC, which was short-lived, between 1929 and 1931, led the new musical movement into the mainstream of Noucentisme, returning to a certain classicism that was post-Romantic style counterpoint to modernism.

Robert's relationship with Arnold Schönberg Gerhard led the composer's two visits to Barcelona, ​​between 1931 and 1932. The composer even called his daughter Nuria. Most importantly, however, is that this link would contact the Catalan musical world with Europe seeking ways to draw more free, more independent, in the shadow of an erupting magma end social in their hands.

This relationship with Robert Gerhard Vienna cultivated and musical circle that developed around him with names like Pablo Casals and Badia-materialized Conxita historically held in Barcelona in 1936 the XIV Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM ) and the creation of the International Musicological Society.

The event placed Barcelona between musical capitals of Europe, as it was responsible for directing and Hermann Scherchen premiered works such as' Violin Concerto. In memory of an angel 'by Alban Berg.

But the Spanish Civil War ended the dream of Robert Gerhard, who had to take the path of exile. He was accompanied by other figures such as James Pahissa, who died in Argentina, and Joan and Ricard Lamote de Grignon, who suffered repression under Franco. On the other side of this exile, in the living Catalonia plight after the war, there were musicians like Eduard Toldrà (1895-1962), who in 1936 had won the prize awarded by Isaac Albéniz Generalitat of Catalonia, by gathering songs 'The Rose als llavis' [The pink lips], with poems by Joan Salvat-Papasseit and dedicated to the soprano Conxita Badia. A work that was not released until 1947, when Badia returned after eleven years in South America.

With resumed Toldrà Catalan musical life. The musician was appointed director of the Municipal Orchestra of Barcelona, ​​home of the current Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National (OBC). His work includes Catalan sensitivity of the first half of the twentieth century with titles such as the opera "The Giravolta de maig '[The flip May] or the string quartet' Sea '[Sea], inspired by poems Joan Maragall. A sensitivity based on the Mediterranean landscape and the popular song, as he had done before the modern generation. The difference, however, in the case of Toldrà and his contemporaries, who claimed his heart is Latino and the music exuded admiration for French composers.

Another good example of this sensitivity was Manuel Blancafort (1897-1987), author of a very extensive catalog that includes symphonic concerts, chamber music and a 'Cantata to the Virgin Mary "[Cantata for the Virgin Mary], who received the Catalan Choral Society Award. The music of Manuel Blancafort shares this same bill largely impressionist composers of his generation. Beside him, his friend and fellow composer Frederic Mompou (1893-1987) developed a more personal and refined this inclination by the influence of Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy and became the most internationally renowned composer of his generation, on all for his solo piano work, including such masterpieces as the four books of the 'silent music'.

A little beyond this generation, who made a bridge between the two halves of the twentieth century divided by the Civil War and World War II, are Joaquim Homs (1906-2003), disciple of Robert Gerhard, and Xavier Montsalvatge (1912 -2002). Both Homs as Montsalvatge, despite being named the composers 'lost generation', able to maintain a musical legacy with the same independence and spirit of the previous era. In the case of Joaquim Homs, who was also a cellist, we must highlight a wide range of works in all genres of composition, which is also close to introspection but following the principles of twelve-tone.

Xavier Montsalvatge, however, sought to bring the extreme influences such as Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky to reach close to the atonal expressionism without having to renounce the Mediterranean light and its predilection for the Indian who discovered the Havana of Calella de Palafrugell. The job as music critic for publications such as 'Destination' or 'La Vanguardia' allowed to have a privileged perspective of the musical life of our country. Works like the popular 'Cinco Canciones Negras', which are performed throughout the world, the 'Concerto per piano brief' [short Concerto for piano], dedicated to Alicia de Larrocha, the 'Cannot Espiritual' [Spiritual Song] or other More recent 'Folia Dali' and the operas 'Una voce in off', 'Puss in Boots' and 'Babel 46', cover a broad musical spectrum and place it among the most universal Catalan composers of his generation.