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Isaac ALBENIZ
29 May 1860 - 18 May 1909 (age 48)

Isaac Albeniz was a Catalan composer and virtuoso pianist. 

He was one of the main proponents of a Spanish national style of composition. 

Best known for his piano works, many of which have been arranged by others for guitar and/or orchestra.

-Family

-Temperament

-Works

-Career and Travels

-Alicia de Larrocha

-Links

Portrait of Isaac albeniz

Family

Born: Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz i Pascual,
29 May 1860 Camprodon, Catalonia, Spain
Father:
Angel Albeniz, Basque/Spanish. Customs officer.
Mother: Dolors Pascual, Catalan/Spanish
Siblings: 3 sisters
Partners: 1883 Married Rosina Jordana, a student of his.
Children: Five - 4 girls (2 of which died in infancy) + 1 boy
Blanca, died in 1886.
Laura,a painter
Alfonso, diplomat. Also played football for Real Madrid
Great-grand-daughter: Cecilia Cigane-Albeniz Sarkozy. Former First Lady of France (ex wife of President Sarkozy)
Died: of kidney disease at Cambo-les-Bains, Pays Basque.
Grave: Cementiri del Sudoest, Barcelona. see findagrave

To see some photos of his family and friends visit La guitarra balear

Spelling: The correct spelling is Albéniz with an acute accent over the e, especially in Spanish speaking countries. However it is more common, and perfectly correct, in other countries to omit the accent.
The final 'z' should be pronounced as a 'th' sound as in 'thanks'.



albeniz postage stamp

Works

5 operas including:
- Henry Clifford
- Pepita Jiménez 
- Merlin
Many works for the piano including:
- Suite Espagnola (8 pieces)
- Espagna (6 pieces)
- Iberia (12 pieces) 
Orchestral works including:
- 2 piano concertos


Temperament
Isaac Albeniz was a kind, cheerful and generous man with a keen sense of humour (and a taste for cigars). Every one that knew him liked and respected him.
Besides being a serious concert pianist he liked entertaining and produced various works for the stage including operas. He showed off tricks such as playing with his back to the piano or with the keyboard covered with a cloth.


Asturias(Leyenda) - played by John Williams
Composed for the piano but usually heard on the guitar, probably transcribed by Francisco Tarrega, a contemporary of Albeniz.


Career

Isaac was a child prodigy.
Age 4 - First public performance in Barcelona.
Isaac and his family moved all over Spain due to his father's job in the post office. 
Age 6 - Studied in Paris for 9 months
Age 8 - Studied at Madrid conservatory
Age 14- His sister committed suicide
Age 15 - Father posted to Puerto Rico and Cuba. Isaac gave concerts in South America and Cuba.
Legend has it that he ran away from home and stowed away on a boat to Buenos Aires and then earned a living playing the piano in bars. The truth however is that he accompanied his father.
Age 16 - Returned to Madrid. Given a Royal scholarship to study in Brussels. From this time he became independent of his parents.
Age 23 - Moved to Barcelona where he met and studied with Felipe Pedrell, a great Catalan musician and scholar, who inspired him to study Spanish folklore and national music.
Age 23 - Tour of South America. Back in Barcelona he married one of his students - Rosita Jordana. A happy and successful marriage.
Age 29 - A very successful stay in London where he gave several concerts.
Age 29-32 - Toured Europe giving concerts in Germany, Austria, Belgium and France. He lived in Paris, Brussels, Nice, Leipzig and other towns. 
Age 30-33 - Lived in London. Appointed composer and conductor at Prince of Wales Theatre. Met the banker Francis Money-Coutts who commissioned him to put his poems and librettos to music.
Age 33 - Moved to Paris. Made friends with Faure, Dukas, Granados, Breton.
Age 40 - His kidney problems (Bright's disease) became more serious causing him extreme pain and which eventually killed him.
Age 48 - Moved from Nice to the Basque health resort of Campo-les-Bains where he died. A few days before he died he had a visit from his friend and fellow composer Rodrigo who told him that he was to receive the French Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour.

He is buried in the Montjuïc cemetery in Barcelona.


Albeniz in Art
A fascinating collection of images - art, portraits, caricatures, cartoons, album covers and postage stamps.

Books, CDs, etc

I have made a selection of recommended items from the UK, Canadian and USA Amazon sites. Click on an item to read available reviews.

Amazon.com selection (USA)
UK selection at amazon.co.uk
Selection at Amazon.ca - Canada


Albeniz on Film

Albéniz is a 1947 black-and-white Argentine Silver Condor award-winning biographical drama film directed by Luis César Amadori.

You can watch it on YouTube. It is in Spanish, the quality is not very good and it is split into 10 sections but great that it is available to fans. I have not been able to find it for sale anywhere. Let me know if you find it.
Here is a link to to part 3/10 You will find the other parts if you go to Youtube.


Alicia de Larrocha

Alicia de Larrocha, queen of Spanish piano music, has died at the age of 86. She was by far the best performer of his piano works.

The Washington Post has printed a glowing tribute/obituary

"Triana"

Merlin
At the start of the 20th century, he tried very hard to establish himself as an opera composer. Living in London, he composed three operas in collaboration with Money-Coutts (heir to a banking fortune, and Albéniz's sole patron from July 1894 onward), of which Merlin was the most ambitious. It was intended as the first part of a huge trilogy of Arthurian legends


Spanish Rhapsody - Miguel Basalga
Miguel Basalga has taken over from Alicia de Larocha as the foremost performer of Albeniz's piano works. He is recording the complete piano works, which is near completion. See his website for more info.


Albeniz on eBay

You will find lots of Albeniz related items on eBay, some new, some used, some common, some rare. Always good for a browse - you never know what you may find!



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