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Classical Composers A-Z: Manuel De Falla

Peter Wintersgill introduces us to Manuel De Falla, whose compositions included the well-known Ritual Fire Dance.

23rd November, 1876, in Cadiz.

Had piano lessons from mother, then more in Madrid from Jose Trago.

Studied composition in Madrid with Pedrell.

Adult Life
Won a prize from the Madrid Academy of Fine Arts in 1905 with his opera La Vida Breve. Later went to Paris and made friends with Dukas, Ravel and Debussy, all of whom influenced his music.
Later, in Madrid, he wrote Nights in the Gardens of Spain (1915) for piano and orchestra, also two ballets - Love the Magician (1915), which includes the well-known Ritual Fire Dance, and the Three Cornered Hat (1919), his best known work, which had its premiere in London.

He changed his style after World War I to a more serious and more formal one. He wrote the opera Master Peter’s Puppet Show (1922) and the Fantasia Betica (1926) for piano and harpsichord for Wanda Landowska. He left unfinished a cantata, Atlantida, a poem on Atlantis.

He finally settled in the Argentine and died there on 14th November, 1946, aged 70.


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