December 9, 2019

The Nationalistic Influence of Albéniz

Several of Tomoko’s favorite piano composers draw largely from their cultural background: Liszt, Chopin, Bartok, to name a few. Another culturally-informed composer of piano music is the lesser known Isaac Albéniz. Tomoko performs “Granada” from his Suite Española in her album "Baroque - 2oth Century."

Isaac Albéniz was born in Catalonia in 1860, and began performing on the piano publicly at age ten. He toured worldwide, facilitated by his customs agent father who traveled frequently. Although he studied in Brussels and later gave concert tours throughout Europe, Albéniz was encouraged to draw from his Spanish heritage. 

Albéniz wrote mainly for the piano. One of his main piano compositions was Suite Española, written during his middle period. It lightly paints a music picture of various Spanish regions and their musical styles. The suite is known for its delicate intricate melodies and dramatic transitions. The piece that Tomoko performed, “Granada,” reflects a Romantic sensibility. It has been transcribed for guitar, and considered a staple in that form ever since its original composition was launched in 1887. 

Albéniz is known for his rebirth of Spanish nationalism, which evoked Spanish melodic elements but did not slavishly replicate Spanish folk music. 

Tomoko considers folk music as the soul of a culture, and a musical inspiration for composers.

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