The Kennedy Center

Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz


Isaac Albéniz was born on May 26, 1860, in Camprodón, Spain.  His musical gifts were apparent early, as evidenced by his first public piano performance at age 4.  When he was 6, Isaac’s mother took him to Paris to study privately with Antoine Marmontel.  In 1868 his family moved to Madrid where was acclaimed Spain’s greatest prodigy.  Young Isaac soon became impatient with his studies, and legend has it that he ran away from home to perform in South and North America.  It is more likely he was accompanied on his travels by his father, a Spanish customs inspector who was transferred to Havana, Cuba in 1875.  On his return to Spain in 1876, Isaac obtained a royal stipend for a course of study at the Brussels Conservatory which he completed with a first prize piano performance.
After leaving the conservatory, Albéniz toured the principal cities of Spain giving concerts and managing a traveling zarzuela (Spanish operetta) company.  In 1883, he studied with Felipe Pedrell, sometimes described as the father of Spanish music.  A brilliant teacher, composer, and musicologist, Pedrell impressed Albéniz with his conviction that Spanish composers should write music rooted in Spanish culture.  During this time, Isaac married one of his pupils, Rosita Jordanna, with whom he had three children.  He composed a considerable amount of music during this period, including concert etudes, concertos, dances, and instrumental music influenced by Spanish folk songs and dances.  He also developed close friendships with distinguished European composers such as Dukas, d’Indy, Fauré, and Bordes. 
In 1905, suffering from an incapacitating kidney disorder, Albéniz moved his family to France and began composing his masterpiece, Iberia, twelve piano pieces in four books.  Two months after completing Iberia, Isaac Albéniz died on May 19, 1909, in Cambo-les-Bains, France.  He was buried in Barcelona, Spain, leaving a prolific body of work that influenced composers such as Debussy and Ravel.
Isaac Albéniz


  • Asturias
  • Suite española - Castilla, Granada, Sevilla, Asturias, Aragona
  • Iberia
  • Four Piano Pieces