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Manuel de Falla y Matheu (November 23, 1876 November 14, 1946) was a Spanishmarker composer of classical music.


Manuel de Falla was born in Cádizmarker. His early teacher in music was his mother; at the age of 9 he was introduced to his first piano professor. Little is known of that period of his life, but his relationship with his teacher was likely conflicted. From the late 1890s he studied music in Madridmarker, piano with José Tragó and composition with Felipe Pedrell. In 1899 by unanimous vote he was awarded the first prize at the piano competition at his school of music, and around that year he started to use de with his first surname, making de Falla the name he became known as from that time on.

It was from Pedrell, during the Madrid period, that de Falla became interested in native Spanish music, particularly Andalusianmarker flamenco (specifically cante 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, or The Brief Life, written in 1905, though revised before its premiere in 1913).

De Falla spent the years 1907 to 1914 in Parismarker, 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. While at no stage was he a prolific composer, it was then that he entered into his mature creative period.

In Madrid he composed several of his best known pieces, including:

Composer Manuel de Falla as depicted on a former currency note of Spain
From 1921 to 1939 Manuel de Falla lived in Granadamarker, where he organized the Concurso de Cante Jondo in 1922. In Granada 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). The puppet opera marked the first time the harpsichord had entered the modern orchestra; and the concerto was the first for harpsichord written in the 20th Century. Both of these works were written with Wanda Landowska in mind. In these works, the Spanish folk influence is somewhat less apparent than a kind of Stravinskian neoclassicism.

Also in Granada, de Falla began work on the large-scale orchestral cantata Atlàntida (Atlantis), based on the Catalan text L'Atlàntida by Jacint Verdaguer. De Falla considered Atlàntida to be the most important of all his works. Verdaguer's text gives a mythological account of how the submersion of Atlantis created the Atlantic ocean, thus separating Spain and Latin America, and how later the Spanish discovery of America reunited what had always belonged together. De Falla continued work on the cantata after moving to Argentinamarker in 1939, following Francisco Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War. The orchestration of the piece remained incomplete at his death and was completed posthumously by Ernesto Halffter.

De Falla tried but failed to prevent the murder of his close friend, the poet Federico García Lorca in 1936.

Manuel de Falla never married and had no children. He died in Alta Gracia, in the Argentine province of Córdoba. In 1947 his remains were brought back to Spain and entombed in the cathedral at Cádiz. One of the lasting honors to his memory is the Manuel de Falla Chair of Music in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at Complutense University of Madridmarker. His image appeared on Spanish currency notes for some years.

List of works

Stage works


Ballet and dance

Orchestral works

  • Nights in the Gardens of Spain - piano and orchestra (c. 1909-1916)
  • Homenajes ("Homages") - orchestra (1938-1939)
  • : Sections: I. "Fanfare sobre el nombre de E. F. Arb√≥s" - II. "√Ä Claude Debussy (Eleg√≠a de la guitarra)" - Rappel de la Fanfare - III. "√Ä Paul Dukas (Spes Vitae)" - IV. "Pedrelliana".

Choral works

  • Balada de Mallorca ("Ballad of Majorca") - for choir (1933)

Works for chamber ensembles and solo instruments

  • Melod√≠a para violonchelo y piano - for piano and cello (1897)
  • Pieza en Do mayor and Romanza - for cello and piano (1898)
  • Fanfare pour une f√™te ("Fanfare for a feast") - for two trumpets, timpani and side-drum (1921)
  • Concerto for harpsichord, flute, oboe, clarinet, violin and cello - dedicated to Wanda Landowska (c. 1923-1926)
  • Fanfare sobre el nombre de Arb√≥s ("Fanfare on the name of Arb√≥s") - for trumpets, horns and drums (1934); orchestrated as a section of Homenajes.

Vocal works

  • Preludios ("Preludes") - voice and piano, text ("Madre todas las noches") by Antonio de Trueba (c. 1900)
  • Rima ("Rime") - voice and piano, text ("Olas gigantes") by Gustavo Adolfo B√©cquer (c. 1900)
  • Dios m√≠o, qu√© solos se quedan los muertos - voice and piano, text by Gustavo Adolfo B√©cquer (c. 1900)
  • Tus ojillos negros ("Your small black eyes") - voice and piano, text by Crist√≥bal de Castro (1902-1903)
  • Cantares de Nochebuena "Songs of Christmas Eve" - nine popular songs for voice, guitar and (at least in the case of the first two songs) zambomba and rebec or chicharra (1903-1904)
  • Trois m√©lodies - voice and piano, words by Th√©ophile Gautier (1909-1910)
  • Siete canciones populares espa√Īolas ("Seven Spanish Folksongs") - for voice and piano, dedicated to Madame Ida Godebska (1914)
  • Oraci√≥n de las madres que tienen sus hijos en sus brazos ("Prayer of the mothers embracing their children" - voice and piano, words by Gregorio Mart√≠nez Sierra (1914)
  • El pan de Ronda que sabe a verdad ("The bread of Ronda has a taste of truth") - voice and piano, by G. Mart√≠nez Sierra (1915)
  • Psych√© - for mezzo-soprano, flute, harp, violin and cello (1924)
  • Soneto a C√≥rdoba ("Sonnet to Cordoba") - for soprano voice and harp (or piano), text by Luis de G√≥ngora (1927)

Instrumental works


  • Nocturne (1896)
  • Mazurka in C minor (1899)
  • Serenata andaluza ("Andalusian Serenade") (1900)
  • Canci√≥n ("Song") (1900)
  • Vals capricho (1900)
  • Cortejo de gnomos ("Procession of Gnomes") (1901)
  • Allegro de concierto (1903-1904)
  • Cuatro piezas espa√Īolas, Pi√®ces espagnoles ("Four Spanish Pieces") - for piano, dedicated to Isaac Alb√©niz (c. 1906-1909)
  • Fantas√≠a b√©tica - for piano, dedicated to Arthur Rubinstein (1919)
  • Canto de los remeros del Volga (del cancionero musical ruso) ("Song of the Volga boatmen") (1922)
  • Pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas (1935) - piano (1935); orchestrated as the third part of Homenajes


  • Pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy - for guitar; arranged for piano (1920); orchestrated as the second section of Homenajes

Versions and arrangements of other authors' works

  • Can√ß√≥ de nadal (1922)
  • Claude Debussy - Pr√©lude √† l'apr√®s-midi d'un faune (1924)
  • Preludio (1924)
  • Gioachino Rossini - Overture to The Barber of Seville (1924-1925)
  • Ave Mar√≠a (1932)
  • L¬īamfiparnaso (Palma de Mallorca, 1934)
  • Invocatio ad individuam trinitatem (Granada, 1935)
  • Himno marcial (Granada, 1937)
  • Emendemus in melius (Granada, 1939)
  • Madrigal: prado verde y florido (Granada, 1939)
  • Romance de Granada: qu√© es de ti, desconsolado (Granada, 1939)
  • Tan buen ganadico (Granada, 1939)
  • ¬°Ora, sus! (Granada, 1939)
  • O magnum mysterium (in circuncisione Domini) (Villa del Lago, 1940-1942)
  • Tenebrae factae sunt (responsorium) (Villa del Lago, 1940-1942)
  • Miserere mei Deus (salmo 50) (Villa del Lago, 1940-1942)
  • In festo Sancti Jacobi (o Lux et decus Hispaniae) (Villa del Lago, 1940-1942)
  • Benedictus (de la misa "Vidi speciosam") (Villa del Lago, 1940-1942)
  • Gloria (de la misa "Vidi speciosam") (Villa del Lago, 1940-1942)
  • Can√ß√≥ de l¬īestrella (Villa del Lago, 1941-1942)
  • Romance de Don Joan y Don Ram√≥n (Villa del Lago, 1941-1942)



  • Manuel de Falla and the Spanish Musical Renaissance by Burnett James (Gollancz, London, 1979)
  • Manuel de Falla : a bibliography and research guide by Andrew Budwig with Preface by Gilbert Chase (Garland Publishers, 1986)
  • Manuel de Falla by Nancy Lee Harper (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998)
  • Manuel De Falla and Modernism in Spain by Carol A Hess (University of Chicago Press, 2001)
  • Falla by Manuel Orozco Diaz (Barcelona: Salvat 1985)

See also

External links

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