'How little we know in this country of the music of Spain…': Spanish music in Britain during the First World War

Moreda Rodriguez, E. (2013) 'How little we know in this country of the music of Spain…': Spanish music in Britain during the First World War. First World War Studies, 4(2), pp. 241-256.

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Publisher's URL: http://www.firstworldwarstudies.org/journal.php?s=volume-4-2013-issue-2


When the Spanish composer Enrique Granados died on board the Sussex in March 1916, his music was scarcely know in Britain; however, shortly after his death, his symphonic poem Dante was performed by Sir Henry Wood in the Queen’s Hall concert series. Before the end of the war, Wood brought other four Spanish to the attention of British audiences: Joaquín Turina’s La procession del Rocío, Isaac Albéniz’s ‘Catalonia’ (from Suite populaire) and ‘Nivian’s Dance’ (from Merlin), and Granados’ Three Spanish Dances. For British audiences, this was one of their first significant contacts with the music of what some critics called the Spanish musical renaissance, and reviews of the works in the musical press are characterized by an attempt to understand and make sense of what reviewers were hearing. In order to do so, most critics – with the exception of Ernest Newman – tried to understand Spanish music as a national tradition, resorting to the notions of national music developed during the past decades in Britain and exacerbated by the Germanophobia typical of the First World War period. However, what reviewers and audiences heard did not always fit within these notions. On one hand, those works which did not make use of Spanish folksong but rather reflected central European musical traditions (Dante, ‘Nivian’s dance’) had little success among audiences and were received with perplexity by reviewers. On the other, La procesión del Rocío, which made use of andalucista themes, was used to present Spanish music as part of a Latin alliance destined to counterbalance the hegemony of German music. After the end of the war, however, the increasing significance of a more internationalist perspective, together with the success of the premiere of Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat in Britain in July 1919, opened the door to a better understanding of Falla’s, Granados’ and Albéniz’s eclecticism.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Moreda Rodriguez, Dr Eva
Authors: Moreda Rodriguez, E.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Journal Name:First World War Studies
Publisher:International Society for First World War Studies
ISSN (Online):1947-5039

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