Manuel de Falla

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Falla, Manuel de

(mänwĕl` dā fä`lyä), 1876–1946, Spanish composer; pupil of Felipe Pedrell. In Paris from 1907 to 1914, he met DebussyDebussy, Claude Achille
, 1862–1918, French composer, exponent of musical impressionism. He studied for 11 years at the Paris Conservatory, receiving its Grand Prix de Rome in 1884 for his cantata L'Enfant Prodigue.
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, DukasDukas, Paul
, 1865–1935, French composer and critic. He was influenced by both the romanticism of Wagner and the impressionism of Debussy. His compositions are few, the best known being a symphonic poem, The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1897), and an opera,
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, and RavelRavel, Maurice
, 1875–1937, French composer, b. in the Pyrenees. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1889, where he was later a student of Fauré. Ravel became a leading exponent of impressionism.
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, and was to some extent influenced by their impressionism. His music, however, remained distinctively Spanish, rooted both in Andalusian folk music and the classical tradition of Spain. Falla was an authority on flamencoflamenco,
Spanish music and dance typical of the Romani (Gypsy), or gitano. Flamenco dancing is characterized by colorful costumes, intense and erotic movements, stamping of the feet (zapateado), and clapping of the hands (palmada
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 music and made use of it in his compositions, keeping the vitality of flamenco but imposing upon it rigorous musical structure. Notable among his compositions are an opera, La vida breve [life is short] (1913); a suite for piano and orchestra, Noches en los jardines de España [nights in the gardens of Spain] (1916); and the celebrated ballets El Amor Brujo [wedded by witchcraft] (1915) and El sombrero de tres picos [the three-cornered hat] (1917). From 1921 to 1939 Falla lived in Granada, organizing festivals of native folk songs and touring Europe to conduct his own works. He moved to Argentina in 1939, where he directed the first performance of his guitar solo, Homenaje (1920); later orchestrated as Homenajes. His ambitious choral work La Atlántida occupied his later years; it was finished after his death by Ernesto Halffter and presented in Madrid in 1961.


See G. Chase, The Music of Spain (1960) and S. Demarquez, Manuel de Falla (tr. 1968).

Falla, Manuel de


Born Nov. 23, 1876, in Cádiz; died Nov. 14, 1946, in Alta Gracia, Argentina. Spanish composer and pianist.

Falla studied piano with J. Tragó and composition with F. Pedrell. He first gained recognition with the opera La vida breve (Life Is Short), composed in 1905 and first performed in Nice in 1913, and several subsequent works based on Andalusian folklore. He also gave piano recitals. From 1907 to 1914, Falla lived in Paris, where he met Debussy, Dukas, and Ravel. The music of the French composers influenced Falla’s symphonic impressions for piano and orchestra Noches en los jardines de España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain, 1915). Other major works by Falla include the ballets El amor brujo (Wedded by Witchcraft; Madrid, 1915) and El sombrero de tres picos (The Three-cornered Hat; London, 1919) and the opera El retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter’s Puppet Show, 1923; based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote), which combines elements of the opera, ballet-pantomime, and puppet show of Castilian folklore.

Notable among Falla’s other compositions are Fantasía bélica for solo piano (1919), a concerto for harpsichord and chamber orchestra (1924), Siete canciones populares españolas (1914), Quatre Pièces espagnoles for piano (1909), and a composition for solo guitar (1920), dedicated to the memory of Debussy. Many of Falla’s works are known from adaptations for violin and piano by F. Kreisler and P. Kochański and for cello and piano by M. Maréchal.

Falla’s music combines elements of the Spanish national tradition with those of Western European music of the early 20th century. It is marked by clarity and perfection of form, a wealth of rhythmic effects, and lush orchestral color. Intensely expressive, it nevertheless demonstrates a discipline of emotion.

In late 1939, Falla emigrated from Franco’s Spain to Argentina, where he occasionally appeared as a conductor.


In Russian translation:
Stat’i o muzyke i muzykantakh. Moscow, 1971.


Krein, Iu. Manuel’ de Fal’ia. Moscow, 1960.
Ossovskii, A. “Ocherk istorii ispanskoi muzykal’noi kul’tury.” In his book Izbr. stat’i, vospominaniia. Leningrad, 1961. Pages 227–88.
Bronfin, E. “Manuel’ de Fal’ia kak muzykal’nyi pisatel’.” In M. de Falla, Stat’i o muzyke i muzykantakh. Moscow, 1971. (Translated from Spanish.)
Cúelar, J. M. de Falla. Madrid, 1968.