Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga (1806-1826)
Arriaga was a promising composer, who has been nicknamed the ‘Spanish Mozart,’ as he was both a child prodigy and died young, as did Mozart. They also share the same birthday – January 27 (50 years apart). He was born in Bilbao to a musical family. Arriaga was sent to Paris to study in 1822 where he studied with luminaries such as Cherubini and Fétis. He soon became a teaching assistant to Fétis and had recognition for his early compositions.
Due to his short life, Arriaga’s output is fairly small but contains an opera and a symphony along with his best-known works – the three string quartets. These were published in 1824 – the only works published in his lifetime. His early death was a loss to Basque music, Spanish music and European classical music as a whole.
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
Born in Cadiz, Manuel de Falla began his career in Madrid, where he developed a love of Spanish church music, folk music and the native opera, or zarzuela. He moved to Paris in 1907 where he met and was influenced by Debussy and Ravel. Returning to Madrid in 1914 and later to Granada, he often wrote music that was influenced by the musical traditions of Andalucia.
After the Spanish Civil War, Falla moved to Argentina where he spent the rest of his life both composing and teaching. Falla’s music is an interesting mix of folk inspired music in the impressionist or neo-classical styles. He had a small but influential output and is considered a leading composer from Spain in the early twentieth century.
Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
Born in Catalonia, Spain Granados studied in Barcelona before going to Paris in 1887. After two years of study he returned to Barcelona where he had his first musical successes such as the opera Maria del Carmen. In 1916 he had his opera on Goyescas performed in New York. On the return journey from England to France, his boat was struck by a German U-boat and in an attempt to save his wife, he drowned.
Granados’s music is initially romantic then nationalistic in the Spanish style. As a pianist, himself, he it isn ot surprising that he wrote extensively for piano. He also produced seven operas and a significant amount of chamber music. The Piano Trio and the Piano Quintet both come from 1894.
Joaquín Turina (1882-1949)
Turina is one of the most well-known Spanish composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in Seville and studying in Madrid, he made his way to Paris, as did other Spanish composers such as Albéniz and Falla, to study and be part of the fertile artistic environment prior to WWI. At the outset of the conflict he returned to Madrid where he developed a career as composer, critic, and teacher. In 1920 he visited Havana, Cuba where he lectured in Latin music.
After the premiere of his Piano Quintet Op. 1 in 1907, Turina went to a café with Albéniz and Falla who convinced him to write in a more ‘Spanish’ style. As Turina later mentioned, “We were three Spaniards gathered together in that corner of Paris and it was our duty to fight bravely for the national music of our country.”
Martin Kutnowski (1968 – )
Kutnowski is a contemporary composer with firm roots in the tonal idiom. In his works, references to the musical past are often embedded within folk materials of his native country, Argentina.
From 1995 to 2005 he taught at The City University of New York; and also taught for several years at the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado (1997-1999) and Conservatorio Manuel de Falla in Buenos Aires (1991-1995). He currently teaches at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.
Kutnowski has been granted scholarships and prizes by the National Endowment for the Arts of Argentina, the Argentine Board of Education, the Fulbright Commission, the Archibald Mourier Foundation, the New Music Jewish Commission of Los Angeles, ASCAP, Arts New Brunswick, and North/South Consonance.
José Evangelista (1943 – )
Evangelista was born in Valencia, Spain studied music alongside physics. Later, his interest in computers led him to Canada, where he settled in Montréal in 1970. There we studied with André Prevost and Bruce Mather. Since 1979 he has been professor of music at the University of Montréal.
Evangelista helped found and has remained active with the ‘Traditions musicales du monde,’ a concert society dedicated to promoting non-western music. He has an interest in the music and culture of Southeast Asia. In order to pursue studies in this music, he lived in Indonesia during the summers of 1976 and 1980 and in Burma during the summer of 1986 where he studied the Javanese gamelan and Burmese piano.
John Estacio (1966 – )
Born in Newmarket, Ontario, Estacio was involved in many musical activities in his high school years – playing trumet, performing in musicals and creating soundtracks for student films. He studied at Wilfred Laurier University with Glenn Buhr and Peter Hatch and later at the University of British Columbia with Stephen Chapman. From 1992 to 2000 he was Composer in Residence with the Edmonton Symphony writing many orchestra works. In 2003 he began a similar residency with the Calgary Philharmonic.
His works have since been performed by many North American Orchestras. His recent output includes two operas and music for film. His opera Filumena was filmed for television and has been broadcast on CBC and PBS. Estacio is known for his colourful orchestrations while leaning towards traditional rhythmic and harmonic structures.