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November 23 marks the birthday of Manuel de Falla

November 23 marks the birthday of Manuel de Falla featured image

The Spanish triumvirate of composers would be Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, and Manuel de Falla. Manuel de Falla was enough of an esteemed figure that his image was on a 100-pesetas banknote in 1970.

He began his career as a top-notch pianist and began composing for piano and voice, teaching piano to help support the family. He developed an interest in Andalusian flamenco music, an influence heard in much of his compositions. He spent some time in the creative glory days of Paris in the early 1900s, where he met Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, and the ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

At the outbreak of World War 1, de Falla returned to Madrid and wrote some of his best-known works, such as Nights in the Gardens of Spain (the closest he wrote to a piano concerto), ballet music El amor brujo (“The Bewitched Love”), which includes the ever popular Danza Ritual Del Fuego (“Ritual Fire Dance”), which was also re-written for solo piano.
The piano version of Ritual Fire Dance is flashy and showy, and starts with a series of hard core trills (two notes close together, played back and forth extremely quickly) and explodes from there.

“Ritual Fire Dance” with Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha – apologies for the odd but brief voice over that identifies her AFTER she starts playing (!!).

Manuel de Falla was born November 23, 1876 in Cádiz, Spain, and died November 14, 1946 in Alta Gracia, Argentina.

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