Isaac Albeniz: Portrait of a Romantic

By Walter Aaron Clark | Go to book overview

8
The Legacy of Albéniz

THE impact of Albéniz's life and work obviously did not end with his funeral. The fact that a major publisher has contracted this book strongly suggests that Albéniz continues to be a vital presence in the canon of western music. Thousands of recordings of his music have been made, and no less than forty publishing houses have printed his Works.1 And Albéniz exerted a discernible influence on succeeding composers. Yet, his output was undeniably uneven in quality, and the only part of it to hold a place in the repertoire is a portion of the piano music. The rest of the piano pieces, stage works, and songs have slid into obscurity. Despite the enormous creative energy he poured into his operas in particular, his reputation has reaped relatively little benefit from them. Why? We might begin to answer this question by briefly tracing the fate of his operas to the present day.

All of Albéniz's extant completed stage works except Henry Clifford and The Magic Opal were produced after his death. San Antonio de la Florida was revived on 18 November 1954 at the Teatro Fuencarral in Madrid, in a revised version by the composer Pablo Sorozábal ( 1897-1988).2 It played again on 19, 20, 22, 23, and 24 November. The critics were only slightly kinder on this occasion than their grandfathers had been in 1894. Even though the music was praised for its freshness and verve, the libretto was still condemned on account of its 'lack of interest'. The work has remained absent from the stage ever since.

Merlin finally premiered on 18 December 1950 at the Tivoli in Barcelona, performed by the Club de Fútbol Junior, whose annual custom it was to

____________________
1
See Baytelman, " Albéniz", 33, for a list of publishers. Appendix E of her book, 107-14, is a discography of piano works alone. See Clark, Guide to Research, 139-219, for a complete discography.
2
Few details of this revival are available. It was, by his own admission, unsuccessful. See Pablo Sorozábal, Mi vida y mi obra ( Madrid: Fundación Banco Exterior, 1986), 281. The orchestral score of the work was evidently lost during the Spanish Civil War ( 1936-9), and Sorozábal had to orchestrate it anew. Whatever other changes he made are unclear. Score and parts of his revision are in the Se. His correspondence with Vicente Moya (Mm, car. 2) indicates that he had approached the dancer Antonio with the idea of staging the zarzuela as a ballet. This deal seems to have fallen through, however, as did his attempts to get Hispavox to record it.

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Isaac Albeniz: Portrait of a Romantic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Contents ix
  • List of Plates x
  • List of Tables xii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • List of Musical Examples xiv
  • Introduction - Step by Step 1
  • 1 - The Phenomenon 1860-1875) 16
  • 2 - With Distinction (1876-1888) 34
  • 3 - Veni, Vidi, Vici (1889-1893) 73
  • 4 - Prophet Without Honour (1894-1895) 109
  • 5 - A Man of Some Importance (1896-1897) 136
  • 6 - The Imperfect Wagnerite (1898-1904) 178
  • 7 - Iberia (1905-1909) 220
  • 8 - The Legacy of Albéniz 268
  • Appendix I 292
  • Appendix II - List of Works 295
  • Bibliography 301
  • Index of Works 311
  • General Index 314
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