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Isaac Albeniz (Composer)

Isaac Manuel Francisco Albeniz i Pascual (May 29, 1860 – May 18, 1909) was a Spanish pianist and composer best known for his piano works based on folk music.

Born in Camprodon, Catalonia (Spain), Albeniz was a child prodigy who first performed at the age of four. At age seven he passed the entrance examination for piano at the Paris Conservatoire, but he was refused admission because he took out a ball from his pocket and broke a glass window while playing with it. By the time he had reached 12, he had made many attempts to run away from home. By age fifteen, he had already given concerts worldwide. After a short stay at the Leipzig Conservatory, in 1876 he went to study in Brussels. In 1880, he went to Budapest to study with Franz Liszt, only to find out that Liszt was in Weimar, Germany.

In 1883, he met the teacher and composer Felipe Pedrell, who inspired him to write Spanish music such as the Suite Espanola, Op. 47. The fifth movement of that suite, called Asturias (Leyenda), is probably most famous these days as part of the classical guitar repertoire, even though it was originally composed for piano and only later transcribed to guitar. Many of his other compositions were also transcribed to guitar, notably by Francisco Tarrega — Albeniz once declared that he preferred Tarrega's guitar transcriptions to his original piano works.

During the 1890s Albeniz lived in London and Paris and wrote mainly theatrical works, especially a projected trilogy of Arthurian operas commissioned, and supplied with libretti by, the wealthy Francis Money-Coutts, 5th Baron Latymer.

The first of these, Merlin (1898-1902) was thought to have been lost, but has recently been reconstructed and successfully performed;. Lancelot was never completed by Albeniz (only the first act is finished, as a vocal and piano score), and Guinevere, the final part, never begun by him.[2].

In 1900 he started to suffer from Bright's disease and returned to writing piano music. Between 1905 and 1909 he composed his most famous work, Iberia (1908), a suite of twelve piano "impressions".

His orchestral works include Spanish Rhapsody (1887) and Catalonia (1899).

In 1883, the composer married his student Rosina Jordana. They had three children, Blanca (who died in 1886), Laura (a painter), and Alfonso (who played for Real Madrid in the early 1900s before embarking on a career as a diplomat).

Albeniz died on 18th May 1909 at age 48 in Cambo-les-Bains and is buried in the Cementiri del Sudoest, Barcelona.

Cecilia Sarkozy, the former wife of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, is the great-granddaughter of Isaac Albeniz




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