Manuel de Falla

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de Falla monument in Granada.
The Gran Teatro Falla in Cádiz, named after de Falla .
Plaque at the birth house in Cadiz.
Portrait in the crypt of the cathedral in Cadiz where he is buried

Manuel María de Falla y Matheu [ maˈnwel ðe ˈfaʎa ] (born November 23, 1876 in Cádiz , † November 14, 1946 in Alta Gracia in Argentina ) was a Spanish composer .


As the son of a businessman and a pianist, de Falla received his first music lessons from his mother María Jesús Matheu. Further studies with Alejandro Odero and Enrique Broca followed, but initially he wavered between a literary and a musical career. In 1896 he finally took up music studies at the Madrid Conservatory as a piano student of José Tragó , won several prizes in the following years and wrote his first compositions, including songs , piano and chamber music .

To support his family financially, de Falla composed five zarzuelas between 1901 and 1903 , two of them in collaboration with Amadeo Vives . However, they were not very successful.

From 1902 de Falla studied with Felipe Pedrell , the founder of Spanish national music . De Falla's breakthrough as a composer came with the opera La vida breve (The short life), written in 1904/1905 and influenced by local folk music . With her he won first prize in an opera competition of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando .

In 1907 de Falla went to Paris . Contact with the impressionist composers living here such as Claude Debussy , Maurice Ravel , Paul Dukas and the Spaniard Isaac Albéniz influenced de Falla's style. The Trois mélodies (1909) based on poems by Théophile Gautier and the Siete canciones populares españolas in 1912 were written in Paris .

When the First World War broke out , de Falla returned to Madrid , where his Gitanería El amor brujo (The Magic of Love) was premiered in 1915 , which he later reworked into a ballet with singing (premiered in 1921 in London ). In 1916 Noches en los jardines de España (Nights in Spanish Gardens) followed , a three-movement suite for piano and orchestra. The pantomime El corregidor y la molinera (The Justice of the Peace and the Miller's Woman , 1917) based on the novella by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón  - which Hugo Wolf had already used as a template for his opera The Corregidor - he adapted for the ballet El sombrero de tres picos ( The three-cornered hat ) , which premiered in 1919 in London in the design of Pablo Picasso . In 1921 de Falla settled in Granada , where in June 1920 he had already composed the guitar work Homenaje (Pour le Tombeau de Claude Debussy) (published December 1920), which was dedicated to Miguel Llobet . The guitarist Andrés Segovia also belonged to the Friends of Fallas . In the house near the Alhambra is now the Museo Falla with documents on the life and work of Manuel de Falla.

De Falla moved further and further away from opulent impressionism towards a more brittle, classical music style. His next stage work, El retablo de maese Pedro ( Master Pedros Puppet Show , 1923) after Cervantes' Don Quixote , is a puppet opera. In doing so, he discovered the harpsichord , to which he dedicated the concerto for harpsichord and five solo instruments (1926). In the same year he was awarded the Legion of Honor. A year later, in 1927, he became an honorary member of the International Society for New Music . Then he began his scenic oratorio Atlántida . But his increasingly deteriorating health forced him to take long breaks, sometimes with paralysis. He was also depressed by the Spanish Civil War that began in 1936 . In 1939 de Falla emigrated to Argentina , deeply shocked by the Second World War . There he died in 1946 without being able to complete Atlántida . His most important student Ernesto Halffter completed the work. After his transfer to Spain, de Falla found his final resting place in the cathedral of his native city of Cádiz .

His portrait was adorned with a 100 pesetas banknote from Spain (Madrid 17 de Noviembre de 1970) and a gold coin worth 200 euros in 2014.

In 2014, the German painter Matthias Wunsch dedicated his painting series Seven Spanish Pictures de Fallas Siete canciones populares españolas .


Stage works
  • La casa de Tócame Roque . Zarzuela (1900; missing)
  • Limosna de amor . Zarzuela (1901)
  • Los amores de la Inés . Zarzuela (1902)
  • El cornetín de órdenes . Zarzuela (1903, with A. Vives; missing)
  • La cruz de Malta . Zarzuela (1903, with A. Vives; missing)
  • La vida breve (The short life) . Lyric drama (1904-1905)
  • El amor brujo . Ballet (1914-1915)
  • Soleá . Drama Music (1916)
  • El corregidor y la molinera . Farsa mimica (1916-1917); 1918–1919 edited as El sombrero de tres picos (The Tricorn)
  • El fuego fatuo . Comic opera based on Chopin (1918–1919); unfinished. The Italian composer Fabio Vacchi is to complete the fragment on behalf of the Madrid and Lisbon Opera Houses .
  • El retablo de maese Pedro . Puppet Opera (1919-1922)
  • Auto de los reyes magos . Drama Music (1923)
  • El gran teatro del mundo . Drama Music (1927)
  • La vuelta de Egipto . Drama Music (1935)
  • Atlántida . Cantata escénica (unfinished; supplemented by E. Halffter)
Orchestral works
  • Noches en los jardines de España . ( Nights in Spanish Gardens. ) Symphonic Impressions for Piano and Orchestra (1911–1915)
  • Homenajes (1920–1939) ( Fanfare sobre el nombre de EF Arbós - à Cl. Debussy - à P. Dukas - Pedrelliana )
  • Dos rimas (1899–1900)
  • Preludios (1900)
  • Tus ojillos negros (1902)
  • Trois mélodies (1909)
  • Siete canciones populares españolas (1914–1915)
  • Oración de las madres que tienen a sus hijos en brazos (1914)
  • El pan de ronda (1915)
  • Soneto a Córdoba (1927)
further vocal works
  • Psyché for voice, flute, harp and string trio (1924)
  • Invocatio ad individuam Trinitatem for 3 female voices (1928)
  • Sinite parvulos for 3 children's voices (1932)
  • Balada de Mallorca after Chopin for choir (1933)
  • Himno marcial after Pedrell (1937)
Chamber music
  • Melodía for violoncello and piano (1897–1899)
  • Mireya for flute and piano quartet (1899)
  • Piano quartet (1899)
  • Romanza for violoncello and piano (1899)
  • Serenata andaluza for violin and piano (1899)
  • Homenaje Pour le Tombeau de Claude Debussy for guitar (1920; first performed 1921; orchestrated in Homenajes )
  • Fanfare pour une fête (1921)
  • Concerto for harpsichord, flute, oboe, clarinet, violin and violoncello (1923–1926)
Piano works
  • Nocturno (1899)
  • Serenata andaluza (1899)
  • Canción (1900)
  • Vals-capricho (1900)
  • Cortejo de gnomos (1901)
  • Hoja de álbum (1902)
  • Allegro de concierto (1903)
  • Pièces espagnoles (1902–1908)
  • Fantasía bética (1919)
  • Canto de los remeros de Volga (1922)
  • Pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas (1935; orchestrated in Homenajes )


  • Jacoba Grunfeld (Ed.): Manuel de Falla - Spain and the new music. A picture of life in writings, pictures, memories. Die Arche, Zurich 1968.
  • Kurt Pahlen : Manuel de Falla and music in Spain. Walter, Olten / Freiburg im Breisgau 1953.

Web links

Commons : Manuel de Falla  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Wolf Moser: The missed repertoire. In: Guitar & Laute 5, 1983, No. 6, pp. 388-395; here: pp. 391–393.
  2. Wolf Moser (1983), p. 393 f.
  3. Wolf Moser : Aranjuez and the consequences. Life and work of the composer Joaquín Rodrigo. In: Guitar & Laute 9, 1987, No. 5, pp. 21-26; here: p. 23.
  4. Honorary Members ,, accessed June 29, 2020.