Albeniz and the Rise of Spanish National Opera

October 24, 2009

24 October 2009: SEMINAR Albeniz and the Rise of Spanish National Opera.

The Foundation for Iberian Music presents a one-day seminar led by professor Walter Aaron Clark.

Best known for his piano works, especially the twelve pieces of Iberia, Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) was also an ambitious composer of musical theater, including zarzuela, English operetta, and opera. His operas exhibit a wide range of styles, from an incomplete Wagnerian trilogy, King Arthur, to a historical opera in the Italian style, Henry Clifford. His most important contribution to the stage, however, was his opera Pepita Jiménez, based on the novel by Juan Valera and set in southern Spain. In this work, he was able to employ the Spanish idioms that characterize most of his piano music and for which he is justly renowned. As a result, it contains some of his best, if least celebrated, inspirations.

This seminar will survey not only the stage works of Albéniz but also view their contribution to nascent Spanish national opera at the end of the nineteenth century. This movement itself had significance in the context of Spain’s decline as an imperial power and search for a new identity in the modern world.

The MOMPOU CHAIR at The Foundation for Iberian Music was established in 2003 by the CUNY Graduate Center and the Institut Ramon Llull of Barcelona to honor the musical legacy of Frederic Mompou (1893-1987). Its mission is the dissemination of the rich musical heritage of Catalonia.

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