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Open Access Publications from the University of California

“Variety within Logic”: Classicism in the Works of Isaac Albéniz.

  • Author(s): Clark, Walter A.
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

The characteristic view we usually have of Isaac Albéniz is as a champion of late-Romantic and early-modern españolismo, a composer who first defined the Spanish style in the 1880s with his ever-popular Suite española no. 1 and Recuerdos de viaje, then went on to redefine this style under the influence of French modernism as he experienced it in his adoptive city of Paris during the 1890s and early 1900s.  Through the two decades of his career as the leading peninsular exponent of a Spanish national style in serious art music, Albéniz drew repeatedly on the inexhaustible supply of regional folklore available to him, not so much through printed collections but through direct experience and recollection, garnered during his extensive travels through Spain as a concert pianist during the 1870s and 1880s.  However, reducing a complex artist like Albéniz to such a simple formulation is hazardous and, in fact, highly misleading.  There are many facets of his musical personality, and aside from Romanticism and modernism, one must add classicism to the list of traits that distinguished his output.  In this article, I wish to explore not the Romantic or modernist in Albéniz but rather the classicist, and finally to see how, in his Iberia, these three components of his artistic personality merged to create one of the great masterpieces in the piano repertoire.

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