Manuel de Falla


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Falla, Manuel de

Falla, Manuel de (mänwĕlˈ dā fäˈlyä), 1876–1946, Spanish composer; pupil of Felipe Pedrell. In Paris from 1907 to 1914, he met Debussy, Dukas, and Ravel, 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 flamenco 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.

Bibliography

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

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.

WORKS

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

REFERENCES

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.

E. F. BRONFIN

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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