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The Biography

of Isaac Albniz
1860-1909

Early years in Spain

This Spanish pianist and composer was born in Camprodn, Spain on the 29th of the fifth
month of 1860, his father was a customs official ngel Albniz and his mother's name was
Dolors Pascual. The young Albniz was a child prodigy who first performed for the Barcelona
public at the age of four. Three years later he was refused admission to the Paris
Conservatoire on the grounds that he was too young, this after he had passed the entrance

examination for piano. At age nine he, along with


his sister Clementina, embarked on a concert tour throughout northern Spain, all
administered by his father. After many attempts to run away from home, Isaac successfully
stowed away in a ship bound for Buenos Aires in 1872, from where he made his way to
United States of America via the island nation of Cuba - This story is disputed by some who
claim he traveled to Cuba with his father the customs official , perhaps it was from Cuba that
he ran away to the USA. In that North-American country he gave concerts in New York and
San Francisco, and then travelled to Liverpool, London and Leipzig. After a short stay at the
Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, in 1876 he went to study in Brussels, Belgium. He also
attempted to study with Franz Listz, traveling to Budapest to do so, but this endeavor was
never successful, apparently due to that Maestro's unavailability.
The beautiful village
of Camprodon, Spain
was Albeniz's birthplace

By 1893 he had settled in Paris composing works for the piano, in particular so called salon
style works similar to the waltzes, mazurkas and so forth of Frdric Chopin, Robert
Schumann, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Liszt. His first published composition Marcha
Militar had appeared in 1868.

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It was the teacher and composer Felip Pedrell, whom he met in 1883, that encouraged Isaac
Albniz to write music that was uniquely Spanish. Pedrell was a leading figure in the
development of nationalist Spanish music, and instilled in Albniz an appreciation of the
wonderful values inherent in Spanish music. Compositions such as his Suite espaola, Op.
47 followed which was characterized by its delicate, intricate melody and abrupt dynamic
changes. Prominent also in his compositions, is the use of harmony and melody popular in
the gypsy music of Spain - flamenco. A particular style within flamenco known as cante
jondo was used, this often dealing with themes of death, anguish, or religion.