Manuel de Falla

He was born in Cadiz. From the late 1890s he studied music in Madrid, studying piano with Josè Trago and composition with Felipe Pedrell. It was from Pedrell that de Falla became interested in native Spanish music, particularly Andalusian flamenco (specifically canto jondo), the influence of which can be strongly felt in many of his works. Among his early pieces are a number of zarzuelas, but his first important work was the one-act opera La vida breve (Life is Short, written in 1905, though revised before its premiere in 1913).

He spent the years 1907 to 1914 in Paris, where he met a number of composers who had an influence on his style, including the impressionists Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Paul Dukas. He wrote little more music, however, until his return to Madrid at the beginning of World War I. There he composed several of his best known pieces, including the suite for piano and orchestra Noches en los jardines de Espana (Nights in the Gardens of Spain, 1916) and the ballets El amor brujo (Love the Magician, 1915, which includes the much excerpted and arranged "Ritual Fire Dance") and El corregidor y la molinera (The Magistrate and the Miller's Wife) which, after revision, became El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat, 1917, produced by Serge Diaghilev).

From 1921 to 1939 he lived in Granada, where he wrote the puppet opera El retablo de maese Pedro (Master Peter's Puppet Show, 1923) and a concerto for harpsichord and chamber ensemble (1926). In these works, the Spanish folk influence is somewhat less apparent than a kind of Stravinskian neo-classicism.

Also in Granada, he began work on the large-scale choral piece La Atlantida (Atlantis), based on a text by Jacinto Verdaguer, which he continued after moving to Argentina in 1939. The piece remained incomplete at his death (it was completed posthumously by Ernesto Halffter).

De Falla died in Alta Gracia in the Argentinian province of Cordoba.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1904-1913 La Vida Breve (Dance No 1) 4.00 stars LP
de Falla Comments:
Orchestre de la Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire cond. Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos
1914-1915 El amor brujo 4.50 stars LP
de Falla Comments:
Gipsy Ballet

Marina de Gabarain - Soprano
Suisse Romande Orchestra cond. Ernest Ansermet

1914-1915 El amor brujo - Ritual Firedance 4.00 stars LP
de Falla Comments:
Orchestre de la Societe des Concerts du Conservatoire cond. Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos
1916 Noches en los jardines de Espana 4.00 out of 5 stars CD
Comments:
Martha Argerich - Piano
Orchestra della Svizzeria Italiano cond. Alexandre Rabinovitch
1916 Noches en los jardines de Espana 4.00 out of 5 stars DVD-R
Comments:
Steven Osborne - Piano
BBC Philharmonic cond. Juianjo Mena

Recorded from BBC Proms 2015

1919 El sombrero de tres picos 4.50 stars DVD
Comments:
Commisioned by Ballet Russe
Designs and costumes by Picasso
Choreography by Massine

Paris Opera Ballet

1923 El retablo de maese Pedro 4.50 stars LP
de Falla Comments:
A small opera for puppet players

Raimunde Torres
Carlos Munguia
Julita Bermejo

National Orchestra of Spain cond. Ataulfo Argenta

1923 El retablo de maese Pedro 4.00 stars CD
de Falla Comments:
A small opera for puppet players

Samuel Lindsay
Adrian Thompson
Matthew Best
Maggie Cole - Harpsicord

Matrix Ensemble cond. Robert Ziegler

- 1925 Danza ritual del fuego from El amor brujo 4.00 stars LP
Alicia de Larrochia Comments:

Alicia de Larrochia - Harpsichord