Release date: 27 October 2023
To the south-west of Continental Europe, two great countries are divided (or joined?) by the majestic chain of the Pyrenees. France and Spain look at each other from either side of the mountains, and have been doing this for centuries and millennia. These two countries are deeply united by their shared Latin language and culture; for two millennia, they also shared their religious culture (mainly Catholic in both cases, but with important Protestant elements in France, and noteworthy influences from Islam and Judaism in Spain); yet, they are also very different in terms of landscape, heritage, history and thought. It is difficult to estimate if what unites them is more or less than what divides them. Certainly, there is a certain amount of rivalry – the heritage of deep historical oppositions – but also an equally deep fascination felt on both sides. The musical traditions of these two countries are very different from one another. France always belonged in what we may label as the “mainstream” Western tradition: with a voice of its own, of course, and with idiosyncratic traits and features, which emerged with particular clarity between the nineteenth and the twentieth century. On the other hand, the relationship between Spain and that “mainstream” tradition was intermittent. At times, in music history, Spain was fully integrated within it; on other occasions, it seemed to live in isolation, and to develop a heritage of its own, with distinguishing traits which were markedly different from what happened in the rest of Europe. The intertwining between folk and “cultivated” music was much tighter in Spain than in France; the enthralling vibes of the Spanish folk heritage permeated not only the works of classically-trained Spanish composers, but also entered the “cultivated” works of foreign musicians, who approached that tradition with different degrees of respect, reliability and responsibility. Many French musicians drew abundantly from the Spanish musical heritage, seen, from time to time, as something utterly exotic and alien, or as something which could creatively dovetail with the most modern developments of the French “cultivated” language. And this happened in a particularly lively fashion between nineteenth and twentieth century, probably also as a consequence of the extraordinary success of Bizet’s Carmen. The Spanish scales, rhythms and harmonies, moreover, were considered as refreshing elements to be poured into the traditional language of Western classical music; they were seen as ready-made resources which meaningfully resonated with the efforts of many French musicians to reinterpret tonality without actually abandoning it – as the Second Vienna School would do. This is the framework against which Isaac Albéniz’s work should be seen and interpreted, in dialogue with those by Turina and Ravel which are also recorded in this album. This Da Vinci Classics CD includes, in fact, the completion of Albéniz’s majestic cycle known under the collective title of Iberia, and encompassing four piano suites with an increasing degree of transcendental difficulty. Along with them, works by Turina (a Spaniard who lived in Paris) and Ravel (a Frenchman with Spanish ancestors) complete the picture. Albéniz composed Iberia between 1905 and 1908. He was an extraordinary pianist himself, and was in constant dialogue with two other great pianists, i.e. Joaquim Malats (the “hidden” dedicatee and intended performer of the cycle) and Blanche Selva. Their advice helped Albéniz to reduce some of the most challenging and nearly impossible difficulties he had disseminated throughout his work, which, nonetheless, remains one of the most daring feats of pianistic virtuosity in history. It is a particular kind of virtuosity, though: one which is spectacular without being showy, and which is always subservient to musicality and expressivity. This was typical for Albéniz’s musical concept, as was witnessed by his contemporaries. On one occasion, conductor André Messager told his friend Francis Poulenc about Albéniz’s performing style: “One afternoon, in Vincent D’Indy’s house, Chabrier had played his Rhapsody Spain for Albéniz. The composers were very alike in certain aspects – their beards, the eternal cigar between their lips, their straightforwardness, truculence, generosity – yet, they were profoundly different. When Chabrier got up from the piano, after having played his wonderful Spanish style piece with overwhelming passion, we saw Albéniz go to the piano to play his music even more calmly than usual, almost austerely”. It was for this primacy of musicianship that Albéniz was so appreciated by the most musical of his contemporaries, as, for instance, Claude Debussy. Writing four years after Albéniz’s death (which followed by a handful of months his completion of Iberia), Debussy stated: “Let us now turn to Isaac Albéniz. After first achieving renown as a peerless virtuoso, he soon acquired exceptional expertise in the art of composition. Even if he has absolutely nothing in common with Liszt, the exuberance of his ideas nevertheless recalls the latter. Albéniz was the first to make use of melancholy in harmony, and to utilise the unique humour of his native land (he was Catalan). […] Although he never literally quoted folk music, [El Albaicín] is clearly written by someone who absorbed it until it flowed into his own music and seamlessly intermingled with it. […] Never before had music assumed such a multi-faceted and dazzingly colourful guise. One closes one’s eyes and reels from so much imaginative bounty in music”. In its entirety, and even though the composer did not envisage a complete performance of the four suites together – or of any individual suite, indeed: each piece can be played in isolation or in combination with any other piece – Iberia is a paean to Albéniz’s home country. But it is a Spain seen from the vantage-point of the exile. Albéniz lived in France, and was much more successful there than in his country of origin. The intermingling of the Spanish folk tradition (without actual quotes, as Debussy poignantly remarked) with the language of the “mainstream” classical tradition (i.e. that of Central Europe) and with the suggestions of French Impressionism gave birth to an extraordinary cycle, which would remain as an everlasting testimony of its composer’s art. The three pieces constituting vol. 3 are mainly homages to Andalusia. Albéniz wrote to Malats in the following terms: “I have finished, under your direct influence as a wonderful performer, the third series of Iberia, the pieces are entitled as follows: El Albaicin, El polo and Lavapiés. I think I have taken the Spanish elements and technical difficulties to their utmost”. El Albaicin refers to a particular area in the city of Granada. Thus does Albéniz describe it to a friend: “Although unfortunately rather ill, I still have a large, healthy heart in which to keep my Granada. […] For Iberia, I have finished an emotional, rowdy piece, epic and noisy, all guitars, sun and fleas. But I have been able to spread a rosy hue – as Paul Dukas says – on El Albaicin – that is what the work is called – of great tenderness, but very elegant tenderness”. Albéniz mentioned in his manuscript that El polo had not to be mistaken for the eponymous British sport, but – understandably – his publisher omitted this humorous remark. Adopting one of the two main traditions of polo singing (the one dating back to Manuel García rather than the gipsy one), Albéniz created a piece where melody and rhythm reciprocally illuminate and engender each other. Different from the others, Lavapiés is not set in Andalusia, but rather in Madrid, of which Lavapiés constitutes a neighbourhood. The composer prescribed that it ought to be played “joyfully and freely”, with the typical rhythms of the “Andalusian tango” underlying its extraordinary liveliness and brilliancy. Málaga, opening book 4, is much less spectacular and therefore has been less successful than other pieces recorded here. Still, its harmony and language are so extraordinarily modern that Olivier Messiaen admitted that Iberia had been fundamental for reconciling him with dissonance. Jerez is set in Cadiz, and explores the deep poetry of the cante jondo, the quintessential flamenco singing with its distilled melancholy and nostalgia. By way of contrast, Eritaña, which closes the series, is lively, brilliant and fantastic. In Debussy’s words, “Music has never achieved such varied impressions” – and if that was being said by an “impressionist” composer… it is meaningful indeed. Fantasy is also what determines and characterizes the other piano suite recorded here, i.e. Joaquín Turina’s Danzas fantásticas op. 22. They postdate Iberia by approximately one decade. Turina had lived in France in turn, and was another admirer of Debussy and Ravel; moreover, he befriended Albéniz and De Falla, with whom he made a trio of Spanish expats. (Turina would later return to his homeland, though). The inspiration for his Danzas Fantásticas came to Turina from quotes by an author from Sevilla (the composer’s own hometown), José Mas. In Turina’s words, “[The pieces’] epigraphs come from a novel: La orgía three epigraphs simply relate in some way to the musical and, in a way, the choreographic essence of the three dances. They are states of mind expressed in rhythm, in accordance with the eternal law of contrast”. Exaltación is a jota, the typical Aragona dance; the citation from Mas speaks of “figures… moving inside the calyx of a flower”. In the second movement, “The guitar’s strings sounded the lament of a soul helpless under the weight of bitterness”. The third, called Orgía like Mas’ work, evokes a bouquet of scents: “The perfume of the flowers merged with the odor of manzanilla, and from the bottom of raised glasses, full of the incomparable wine, like incense, rose joy”. Finally, this Da Vinci Classics album offers us a Frenchman’s view of Spain; but, once more, Ravel was by no means alien to Spanish culture, and his Rapsodie Espagnole was acknowledged as “genuinely Spanish” by De Falla himself. As De Falla put it, “Ravel’s hispanism was obtained […] through a free use of rhythms, modal tunes and evolutions typical for our popular lyricism”. The whole palette of Ravel’s imaginative mind and his acquaintance with modes and styles of Spanish music are clearly revealed in this magnificent composition. Together, these works lead us in a fascinating tour of Spain, seen “with the ears” and therefore contemplated in its mysterious nature, both enchanted and enchanting at one and the same time.
Chiara Bertoglio © 2023
Alex Trolese: Axel Trolese is an Italian pianist, born in 1997. He has studied with some of the leading international musicians, such as Louis Lortie, Benedetto Lupo, Maurizio Baglini and Denis Pascal. He has obtained a Master's Degree both in Paris' Conservatoire National and Rome’s Accademia di Santa Cecilia, moreover he earned a Diploma in Cremona's Conservatorio Monteverdi.
He is an Artist in Residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel; moreover, his artistic activity is supported by the Associazione Musica con le Ali.
Being a fine interpreter of French music, he recorded in 2016 his first album “The Late Debussy: 12 Etudes & 6 Epigraphes Antiques”, which was praised by numerous critics and on magazines like Repubblica, Musica and Amadeus, among the others.
Spanish piano music is an other major passion, which is at the heart of his next discographic project. In 2021 Da Vinci Classics will release “Iberia: Songs & Dances”, the first volume of a complete recording of Isaac Albéniz’s Suite Iberia, together with works by Federico Mompou and Manuel De Falla.
Prize-winner in many prestigious competitions ("Ettore Pozzoli Piano Competition", "Grand Prix Alain Marinaro” and "Premio Venezia”), Axel Trolese has played in many prestigious concert halls, including Rome's Auditorium Parco della Musica, Venice's La Fenice Theatre, Paris' Salle Cortot, Beijing's Millennium Concert Hall, Milan’s Società del Quartetto, Weimar's Weimarhalle, the French Ministry of Culture, Rome’s Académie de France and Quirinal Palace, the Amiata Piano Festival, Debussy’s Home-Museum, Risonanze Festival and the Fazioli Concert Hall.
Some of his concerts have been broadcasted by Radio3, France Inter and Venice Classic Radio.
He has played as a soloist with orchestras like the Jenaer Philharmoniker and Roma Tre Orchestra, and worked with conductors like Massimiliano Caldi, Markus L. Franck, Ovidiu Balan, Jesus Medina and Pasquale Veleno.
Axel Trolese has appeared in a documentary produced by ARTE about the Italian composer Roffredo Caetani, playing his works on the Bechstein grand piano that his godfather Franz Liszt gave to him, in the magical atmosphere of the Giardini di Ninfa.
He’s the main character and pianist in the short film “Danse Macabre” by the famous Italian director Antonio Bido, inspired by Saint-Saëns' homonymous tone poem.
Isaac Albéniz: (b Camprodón, Gerona, 29 May 1860; d Cambo-les-Bains, 18 May 1909). Spanish composer and pianist. When he was a year old he moved with his family to Barcelona. His musical propensities soon became apparent, and his sister Clementina gave him piano lessons when he was about three and a half. A child prodigy, he made his first public appearance at about five, at the Teatro Romea in Barcelona. Shortly afterwards he began lessons with Narciso Oliveras. In 1867 he was taken to Paris where, it is said, he studied privately with Antoine-François Marmontel, eventually taking the entrance exam for the Paris Conservatoire; though impressed with his talent, the jury is said to have refused him admission because he was too immature. In 1868 Albéniz’s father lost his government post, and, to earn money, took Isaac and Clementina on recital tours of the Spanish provinces. Soon the family moved to Madrid, where Albéniz was enrolled in the Escuela Nacional de Música y Declamación (now the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música). His studies were constantly interrupted; having experienced the life of a travelling virtuoso, he repeatedly gave recitals in the provinces or wherever fate took him. He returned intermittently to Madrid and studied for a time with Eduardo Compta and José Tragó. His travels took him to Puerto Rico and Cuba in 1875 before he finally settled down to serious studies.
Albéniz returned to Europe and enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory in May 1876 but remained there for only two months; by summer he was back in Madrid seeking financial aid. Through the intercession of Guillermo Morphy, secretary to King Alfonso XII, he obtained a pension to attend the Brussels Conservatory. There he studied the piano until 1879, first with Franz Rummel and then with Louis Brassin, obtaining a first prize. He did not, as many biographers claim, go on to study with Liszt, though he seems to have travelled to Budapest in August 1880 with the goal of meeting the Abbé. By mid-September 1880 Albéniz was again in Madrid pursuing his performing career. He made tours of Spain and appearances in the Spanish-speaking Americas. He also began to conduct, and by 1882 he had become administrator and conductor of a touring zarzuela company in Spain. It is probably from this time that his earliest attempts at zarzuela originate – El canto de salvación, ¡Cuanto más viejo …! and Catalanes de Gracia. In 1883 he moved to Barcelona where he studied composition with Felipe Pedrell. While still continuing to perform he gave piano lessons, and on 23 June 1883 he married his pupil Rosa Jordana. By the end of 1885 they had moved to Madrid, where, through the protection of his old friend Morphy, Albéniz firmly established himself in Madrid’s musical life, performing in the homes of nobility, organizing and participating in concerts and teaching. By 1886 he had written over 50 works, principally for piano, and on 21 March 1887 he gave a concert in the Salon Romero devoted solely to his own music. His own works were also featured in a series of 20 concerts given under the auspices of Erard, the French piano manufacturer, at the French pavilion of the 1888 Universal Exposition in Barcelona. A facile improviser, Albéniz composed quickly, producing a large body of solo piano pieces, much of it delightfully inspired salon music (dances, études and character-pieces) in simple forms, redolent with repeats. But he also undertook more ambitious projects, two piano concertos (op.78 and the Rapsodia española) and a four-movement symphonic piece (Escenas sinfónicas). By 1889 he was well known as a pianist-composer, with his compositions published by Spain’s leading music publishers. In March he gave concerts in Paris; a few months later he appeared in London, where his success ensured repeated visits. In June 1890 he placed himself under exclusive contract as a composer and performing musician to the manager Henry Lowenfeld and moved to London by the end of the year with his wife and children (Alfonso, Enriqueta, and Laura; two others, Blanca and Cristina, had died in early childhood). Notable among the concerts Albéniz gave under Lowenfeld’s management were two in November 1890 focussing on modern Spanish orchestral music, and a series of ten chamber music concerts that took place in the first half of 1891 (for which he invited his friend the violinist Enrique Fernández Arbós to participate).
Through Lowenfeld, who was associated with musical theatre, Albéniz agreed to compose music for a comic opera, The Magic Opal, written by Arthur Law. He also came into contact with Horace Sedger, manager of the Lyric Theatre, and became involved with its production of Incognita (an adaptation of Charles Lecocq’s Le coeur et la main, opening 6 October 1892). On 19 January 1893 The Magic Opal, a work in the vein of Gilbert and Sullivan, had its première at the Lyric. After a successful run, it was revised slightly and staged at the Prince of Wales Theatre as The Magic Ring (11 April 1893) with Albéniz conducting. The next offering at the Prince of Wales, Poor Jonathan (15 June 1893), was an adaptation of Carl Millöcker’s Der arme Jonathan to which Albéniz contributed some numbers and acted as musical director.
Albéniz’s theatrical involvement brought him to the attention of Francis Burdett Money-Coutts, heir to the banking fortune of Coutts & Co. and financial investor in both the Prince of Wales and Lyric theatres. Money-Coutts, an amateur poet and playwright, had become a partner with Lowenfeld in the contract concerning Albéniz’s musical talents; by July 1894 Money-Coutts was Albéniz’s sole patron.
After Poor Jonathan, Albéniz moved back to the continent because of illness, settling in Paris. He soon resumed his performing activities in Spain, at the same time working on Henry Clifford, an opera based on the Wars of the Roses to a libretto by Money-Coutts. He spent the summer of 1894 in Paris completing the score as well as composing yet another stage work, San Antonio de la Florida, a one-act zarzuela to a libretto by Eusebio Sierra; this was first given in Madrid, at the Teatro Apolo on 26 October 1894, the composer conducting. Because it was more ambitious musically than the typical zarzuela in the accepted género chico style, San Antonio was not entirely successful. A month later Albéniz conducted his Magic Opal (presented in Sierra’s Spanish translation under the title of La sortija) at the Teatro de la Zarzuela and was again criticized for writing a work that did not conform to the established mould. Disgusted, he returned to Paris. Albéniz was not the only Spanish composer to encounter resistance from the establishment. Efforts to elevate the artistic content of the zarzuela as well as to create a Spanish national opera (vigorously supported by Tomás Bretón and Felipe Pedrell) repeatedly faced deep-rooted prejudices.
In March 1895 Albéniz appeared as a soloist in a concert series sponsored by the Sociedad Catalana de Conciertos in the Teatro Lírico in Barcelona. The series of five concerts, fostered by Albéniz, was conducted by d’Indy, and marked the beginning of their friendship. Ernest Chausson, whose Viviane was performed on the series, became a close friend of Albéniz as well. In time Albéniz formed close ties with Charles Bordes, Paul Dukas and Fauré, and became a cherished member of the French musical community.
On 8 May 1895 Albéniz conducted the première of Henry Clifford at the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona. As was the custom there, the work was performed in Italian. Though not appreciated by the general public it proved a success with the critics, who felt that the music showed promise. Money-Coutts’s and Albéniz’s next endeavour was a one-act opera based on the novel Pepita Jiménez by Juan Valera. It had its première on 5 January 1896 at the Gran Teatro del Liceo (in Italian) to the decidedly enthusiastic applause of the general public; the press however were disappointed, having hoped for something more substantial from the composer of Henry Clifford. In March and April Albéniz set a group of poems by Money-Coutts and also began (though left incomplete) work on a choral piece Lo llacsó with text by the Catalan poet Apeles Mestres. Albéniz not only promoted Spanish music (his own as well as that of his compatriots) in the concerts he organized but also actively participated in the modernismo movement for the resurgence of Catalan culture, which had taken hold in Barcelona in the 1890s. By September Albéniz had expanded Pepita to two acts and, though he continued to give concerts, much of 1896–7 was devoted to promoting the opera’s performance. On 22 June 1897 Pepita, conducted by Franz Schalk, was produced in German at the German Theatre in Prague to great praise. Angelo Neumann, manager of the theatre, contracted Albéniz to compose two stage works, which did not however materialize. Instead, the composer embarked on a trilogy, King Arthur, to a libretto by Money-Coutts. Albéniz’s talent for inventing attractive vocal lines woven around a vibrant orchestral fabric had formed the compositional basis for Clifford and Pepita, operas that succeed from moment to moment. The immense undertaking of a trilogy, however, daunted rather than excited Albéniz’s imagination. Contrary to his usual speed, Albéniz took four years to finish Merlin (1898–1902), Lancelot was left incomplete after the beginning of the second act and Guenevere remained untouched.
Meanwhile, from 1896, in addition to composing songs, many on texts by Money-Coutts, Albéniz sought inspiration from his native land in works for solo piano and for orchestra. Notable was La vega (initially intended for orchestra), which marked a turning-point in his piano style; his deliberate exploitation of the sonorous properties of the piano, juxtaposing its different registers and utilizing the piano for its colouristic effects, foreshadows Iberia.
From 1898 to 1900 he taught advanced piano at the Schola Cantorum (among his students was Déodat de Séverac); he had to resign because of poor health and in 1900 left Paris for the warmer climate of Spain. In Barcelona he became associated with Enric Morera and the movement to promote the performance of Catalan lyrical works. He made repeated attempts to have Merlin and Pepita Jiménez produced in both Madrid and Barcelona but met constant opposition from the establishment. In 1902 Albéniz agreed to compose a three-act zarzuela to a libretto by Cristóbal de Castro, La real hembra. He set little more than the prelude and first two scenes however, and Castro never completed the libretto. Though Albéniz had support from the press, his international reputation was a liability. He was viewed as a Spaniard ‘in foreign attire’ and thus not only lacked commitment from the public and the impresarios but also suffered from their intrigues and jealousies. Since all efforts to secure performances of his lyric works failed, at the end of 1902 Albéniz returned to France where, esteemed by colleagues there, he felt he could more effectively advance the cause of Spanish music.
Suffering from Bright’s disease, he spent much time in the warmer climate of Nice. He resumed work on Lancelot, eventually putting it aside to revise the orchestration of Pepita for a performance in French at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels. Pepita, along with San Antonio de la Florida (translated into French as L’ermitage fleuri), was given on 3 January 1905 to enthusiastic reviews. Albert Carré, director of the Paris Opéra-Comique, expressed interest in Pepita, but it was not given there until 1923. Although the Monnaie announced plans to perform Merlin the following winter in a French translation by Maurice Kufferath, the production did not materialize. In April 1905 Albéniz began a lyric drama in four acts entitled La morena, but this too was left incomplete. Heeding the advice of his friends and the dictates of his conscience, he returned to the composition of piano music. From 1905 to 1908 he wrote his masterpiece, Iberia, a collection of 12 ‘impressions’ (as the work was subtitled) in four books, wherein he captured and immortalized the sounds and rhythms of his native country. Whereas the first two books of Iberia, though difficult in certain aspects, emphasize colour, the remaining pieces show a greater density of texture and an increased demand for virtuoso technique, a change in style that can be attributed to the pianist Joaquín Malats (winner of the prestigious Diémier prize in 1903). Deeply impressed by Malats’s interpretation of Triana from Iberia, Albéniz composed the last two books under the direct influence of his esteemed compatriot’s phenomenal abilities, creating music of extreme technical difficulty. Albéniz attempted the orchestration of the first book of Iberia, but not satisified with the results he asked Arbós to accomplish the task. Arbós ultimately orchestrated Triana and El Albaicín (and Navarra, which was originally conceived as part of Iberia) as well. (The remaining numbers of the work were later orchestrated by Carlos Surinach.)
In 1908 Albéniz set more Coutts poems, which were ultimately published as Quatre mélodies. His final composition, Azulejos for piano, was left unfinished at his death. His remains are buried in the cemetery in Montjuïc in Barcelona.
Throughout his virtuoso career Albéniz’s playing was admired for its clarity and its exquisite delicacy of tone, qualities that were particularly lauded in his interpretations of Scarlatti. Although he made no commercial recordings, three improvisations on privately owned wax cylinders do survive and have been made available on The Catalan Piano Tradition (VAI Audio/International Piano Archive 1001, c1992).
Through his activities as a conductor, impresario, performer and composer within Spain as well as abroad, Albéniz, one of Spain’s foremost musicians, not only contributed to the rebirth of Spanish nationalism but also gained international recognition for Spanish music. Where Pedrell used folk music in his works as a basis for a national style, Albéniz preferred to suggest, rather than quote, rhythms and melodic elements to evoke the Spanish landscape. He achieved popularity at the beginning of his compositional career with salon music. With his dramatic works, his writing gained depth. By the end of his life he was creating dense polyphonic textures that combined underlying diatonic harmonies (freely mixing major and minor tonalities with modal elements), animated by vibrant ostinato rhythms, overlaid with basically simple melodic lines and gestures embroidered with chromatic filigree.
Founded in 1987 by Paloma O’Shea, the Fundación Isaac Albéniz is dedicated to promoting and aiding musical activities in Spain; it administers the International Piano Competition of Santander (founded in 1972) and also acts as a resource centre for Albéniz research in particular and Spanish music in general.
Joaquín Turina (b Seville, 9 Dec 1882; d Madrid, 14 Jan 1949). Spanish composer.
He was the son of a painter of Italian descent. Music played a large part in his life from his early childhood, and although in deference to his family's wishes he began to study medicine, he soon abandoned everything that interfered with music, for which he showed a strong aptitude. His serious study began with piano lessons from Enrique Rodríguez and composition lessons from Evaristo García Torres, choirmaster of Seville Cathedral.
He soon became well known in Seville as a composer and, from 1897, as a pianist. His early successes prompted him to go to Madrid with the intention of arranging to have his opera La sulamita, which treats a biblical subject in a very traditional style, performed at the Teatro Real. This was an impossible ambition for an unknown provincial composer; but Turina gradually became well known in artistic circles and his friendship with Falla influenced his ideas on the proper character of Spanish music. In 1902 he began to study the piano at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música wih José Tragó. He was more affected by orchestral and chamber music than by the opera performances at the Teatro Real. Almost the only way for a composer to earn a living in Madrid, however, was as a composer of zarzuelas of the género chico type. But the failure of a short zarzuela, Fea y con gracia, discouraged him, and the première in Seville of La copla was no more successful.
Maurice Ravel (b Ciboure, Basses-Pyrénées, 7 March 1875; d Paris, 28 Dec 1937). French composer. He was one of the most original and sophisticated musicians of the early 20th century. His instrumental writing – whether for solo piano, for ensemble or for orchestra – explored new possibilities, which he developed at the same time as (or even before) his great contemporary Debussy, and his fascination with the past and with the exotic resulted in music of a distinctively French sensibility and refinement.