Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Art Song Composers of Spain: An Encyclopedia

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Art Song Composers of Spain: An Encyclopedia

Article excerpt

Suzanne Rhodes Draayer, Art Song Composers of Spain: An Encyclopedia. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009. Cloth, xxviii, 578 pp., $75.00. ISBN 978-0-8108-6362-0

www.scarecrowpress.com

If voice teachers and coaches were asked to name art songs from Spain, it is likely that everyone polled would be able to supply several titles. It is equally probable, however, that they would draw from the same small pool of songs. The exercise illustrates the current status of European Spanish art song: the literature is not unknown, but it has deep veins that are untapped. Art songs in other major languages are studied and performed extensively, while Spanish music is programmed less frequently. Often, this is due to the lack of familiarity with the literature. Suzanne Rhodes Draayer seeks to rectify the situation with Art Song Composers of Spain.

The focus of the volume is the vocal repertoire written in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Draayer begins her discussion of art song composition in Spain with both an historical and musical context. The author masterfully encapsulates two centuries of politics and wars in a well written synopsis, and traces the concurrent development of music in particular, and the arts in general. Twenty-six traditional types of Spanish songs, ranging from balada Árabe (referential to the Moorish occupation in the eighth century) to villancico (rustic songs now synonymous with Christmas carols) are listed and explained. The final introductory material summarizes the elements indigenous to canciónes lirica, the progenitors of Spanish art song. Non-Hispanic composers have long recognized the allure of Spanish music, and have freely used-and frequently misrepresented-the genre. Musical excerpts exemplify the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic traits that are characteristically Spanish.

The encyclopedia is a chronology, divided into twenty-five year segments. For each era, Draayer identifies the major composers, as well as those who are lesser known. The entries consist of biographic information, discussion of representative songs (complete with musical examples), catalogues of books and compositions, discography, and bibliography. Ninety-three composers are represented. The first is Manuel Garcia, who is familiar to pedagogues both as a singer and teacher in his own right, and as the father of singers Pauline Viardot-Garcia and Maria Malibran, and Manuel Garcia II, inventor of the laryngoscope. The thirty-three major composers include those familiar to art song enthusiasts, such as Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, Joaquín Turina, Frederic Mompou, Fernando Obradors, Joaquín Rodrigo, and Xavier Montsalvatge. …

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