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Spanish ComposerResearch Paper

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Music is the universal language of western society. Music is a form of expression that resonates with individuals irrespective of their background or socio-economic status. Even more interesting are the distinct characteristics exhibited by many of the more talented musicians in the field. In fact, the contributions of these musicians often transcend the conventional methods of their time period. Such is the case for Isaac Albeniz.

Isaac Albeniz, one of the most important Spanish composers in history, was born in Camprodon, Spain, in 1860, and died in Cambo-les-Bains, France, in 1909. Albeniz was a child prodigy that was able to perform works at the age of four. At seven years of age Albeniz passed the entrance examination for the piano at the Paris Conservatoire, but was denied access due to his age. Even more interesting is that Albeniz ran away from home twice and supported himself by preforming concert tours. I personally find his talent and skill remarkable considering his age. In many instances, children do not have the dedication nor the consistency to focus solely on one hobby (Clark, 1998). Instead children focus on a litany of skills that hold their interest for a short period of time. These ephemeral hobbies and interests generally abate with time. As a result, children are often good at many aspects of life, but not necessarily great at any one aspect. Albeniz was the complete opposite, focusing almost solely on his piano techniques and talent (Baytelman, 1993).

Albeniz, although talented, did meet with his fare share of setbacks. He lived a predominately nomadic life during his teens. He often travelled, supporting himself through concerts and playing music. In fact, it is rumored that Albeniz hid himself on a steamship bound for Puerto Rico. In exchange for a ticket, he attempted to entertain passengers. However, his plan failed and as a result, was force to land in Buenos Ayres. In Argentina Albeniz experienced hunger for the first time, and had to spend time sleeping on the streets. However, Albeniz bounced back. Shortly after homeless stint, he was playing at cafes and cabarets, being able to save enough money to start traveling north to Central America. Central America did not treat Albeniz that well either and as a result, he attempted to travel to America.

America did not welcome Albeniz as well as he expected it would, and in 1874 he returned to Europe, this time willing to seriously develop his skills as a musician. He attended the Leipzig Conservatory under Jadassohn and Reinecke, and later studied with Louis Brassin (piano) and Auguste Gevaert (composition) at the Brussels Conservatory. In 1880 Albeniz met Franz Liszt and became his student, having traveled with him from Weimar to Rome. The same year he started touring Europe and South America as a mature virtuoso. Through his trials and hardships, Albeniz eventually became the composer we recognize today.

Albeniz made a very unique contribution to western society though his music. His style was very unique for the time period, reflecting his unique and storied past. Albeniz's early works were mostly "salon style" music. His primary contribution to western society was the introduction of a unique Spanish national style of composition. Albeniz's first published composition, Marcha Militar, appeared in 1868.

What made Albeniz so unique was his ability to draw from multiple sources for inspiration. Albeniz's music was a combination of multiple styles from his predecessors and teachers. Much like western society today, Albeniz utilized the best of multiple facets of culture. Western society is often considered "developed," due to its extreme wealth and innovative culture. The United States for instance is one of the wealthiest nations in the world as measure by Gross Domestic Product. This prosperity however was derived from a litany of sources. Immigration, capitalism, innovation, and ingenuity were all values that originated from varying groups of people. Western society synthesized that best of these values to become prosperous. This is exactly what Albeniz did with his earlier works. His early mentor Felipe Pedrell helped Albeniz derive a more spiritual orientation in his Spanish music. Albeniz's work during this period reflected a more delicate, intricate melody with abrupt changes that typically characterize a spiritual life (Gauthier, 1978).

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