The Kennedy Center

Spanish Dance No. 5

About the Work

Enrique Granados Composer: Enrique Granados
© Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Enrique Granados studied piano at the Barcelona Conservatory as a boy (he gave his first public concert at age ten) and Spanish music with the noted folklorist Felipe Pedrell. He went to Paris in 1887 to apply for admission to the Conservatoire, but fell ill during the entrance examinations, and instead became a private student of Charles de Bériot, son of the famous contralto Maria Malibran and one of the Conservatoire's most distinguished faculty members. Granados remained in Paris for two years before returning to Barcelona in 1889, where his mature debut the following year created a sensation and led to a successful performing career that took him throughout Europe as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber music player. Granados continued to concertize and compose during the first decade of the new century, concentrating on piano pieces and songs. In 1911 he wrote the music considered by many to be his masterpiece-a piano cycle titled Goyescas inspired by the paintings and tapestry cartoons of Goya. Granados premiered his Goyescas in Barcelona on March 9, and created enormous enthusiasm when he performed it at the Salle Pleyel in Paris on April 4, 1914. He was awarded the Légion d'honneur, and given a contract by the Paris Opéra to create an operatic version of the keyboard suite for the coming season. The outbreak of World War I in August stymied the promised production in Paris, however, so the Metropolitan Opera in New York premiered the work in January 1916. On the voyage home from America, Granados' boat was torpedoed by a German submarine on March 24, 1916. He was picked up by a lifeboat, but dived back into the frigid water to try to save his struggling wife. Both drowned. His death at the age of 48 robbed Spain of one of its greatest and most promising artists. Granados' Spanish Dance No. 5 "Andaluza", with its hint of mystery, its romance, its exotically winding melodies and its infectious rhythms, is one of the quintessential musical manifestations of the Spanish spirit.