Robert Gerhard

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Robert Gerhard i Ottenwaelder (born September 25, 1896 in Valls , † January 5, 1970 in Cambridge ) was a Spanish composer from the Catalan cultural sector .


His father Robert Gerhard came from Switzerland , his mother Maria geb. Ottenwaelder from Alsace . They had settled in Valls and ran a wine trade.

After childhood and school education in Spain, Robert Gerhard (jr.) Began a commercial apprenticeship in Lausanne (Switzerland) at the age of 12 at the request of his father . However, at the age of 17 he broke it off and went to Munich to study music at the Royal Academy. The outbreak of World War I ruined his plans and he returned to Valls.

From 1915 he studied piano with Enrique Granados and composition with Felip Pedrell in Barcelona . In 1923 he went to Vienna , where he continued his studies with Arnold Schönberg . He followed this to Berlin , where he completed his studies in Schönberg's master class at the Hochschule für Musik in 1928.

After returning to Spain, he initially worked as a music teacher in Barcelona. From 1932 he worked at the Catalan Library. Here he worked as a composer and lecturer; in addition, he worked as a publisher of Catalan music. During this time he worked with well-known artists such as Miró and Massine .

In the mid-1930s he emigrated to Paris and later to England because of the Spanish Civil War . There he finally settled in Cambridge, as the local university granted him a scholarship. In addition to his work at the University of Cambridge , he gave guest lectures in the USA in the 1960s .

In England, however, as an emigrant he found it very difficult to find recognition as a composer. The international breakthrough of his works was actually not to take place until the 1960s; this happened mainly through the composition of commissioned works and their media-effective performances. In 1960 he became a British citizen.

Robert Gerhard died in Cambridge in 1970. His manuscripts and private archive are stored in the Cambridge University Library .


His compositional work is very complex. Due to its origin, it is shaped by elements of Catalan folk music and the way it is made. On the other hand, it also reflects his musical engagement with the twelve-tone technique of his teacher Schönberg. His compositions mainly include operas , ballets , suites , symphonies and songs as well as other orchestral and vocal works.

Works (selection)

  • Ballets
"Don Quixot"
  • Orchestral works
"Sardana I" (1928)
"Sardana II" (1928)
"Epithalamion" for orchestra (1965–1966)
Suite for orchestra No. 2
Violin concerto
Piano concerto
Concerto for Orchestra
  • Symphonies
"Homenaje a Pedrell" (Symphony) (1940–41)
Symphony No. 1 (1952–53)
"Metamorphoses" Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 3 "Collages" (1960)
Symphony No. 4 "New York" (1957–59)
  • Opera
"La Dueña"
  • Chamber music
Sonata for cello and piano (1956)
Trio for violin, cello and piano (1918)
Concerto for 8
  • Piano works
"Dos Apunts"
"Soirees de Barcelona"
Dances from "Don Quixote"
3 Impromptus
“Alegrias” for 2 pianos
"Pandora" for 2 pianos & percussion
  • Songs
“L'infantament meravellos de Schahrazada” op. 1
"14 Cancons populars catalanes" (1928–31)
"L′Alta Naixença del Rei En Jaume" (1932)
"Cancionero de Pedrell" (1941)
"The plague" for speaker, mixed choir and orchestra (based on Albert Camus) (1963–64)

Filmography (selection)


  • Joaquim Homs: Robert Gerhard y su obra (= Ethos-Musica. 16). Universidad de Oviedo, 1987.
  • Proceedings of the 1st International Roberto Gerhard Conference: May 27-28th 2010. Center for Research in New Music, University of Huddersfield 2010, ISBN 978-1-86218-088-8 .
  • Monty Adkins, Michael Russ (Eds.): The companion to Roberto Gerhard. Ashgate, London 2013.
  • Diego Alonso: Un hito de la modernidad musical española: the primer "Apunt" para piano de Roberto Gerhard (= Acta musicologica. 89). Volume 2, 2017, pp. 171–194.

Individual evidence

  1. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from May 21, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

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