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Spanish Dance in E minor, Op. 37, no. 5

November 2, 2014 – Sharon Isbin, guitar

Enrique Granados is known chiefly for his colorful Spanish Dances (1892–1911) and his Goyescas (1911), piano pieces inspired by the paintings and etchings of Goya. He achieved great fame as a pianist in his native Spain and in Paris, where he had studied for two years, but his intense dislike of travel limited his touring. Many of Granados’s activities centered around Barcelona, where he had received much of his early musical training. In 1901 he founded a school there—the Academia Granados. Tragically, travel was at the heart of his untimely death. In 1916 he had reluctantly made the sea voyage to attend the Metropolitan’s highly successful premiere of his opera Goyescas, and had postponed his voyage home in order to play for President Woodrow Wilson. Having missed his ship to Spain, he sailed instead to Liverpool where he boarded the Sussex for Dieppe. The Sussex was torpedoed by a German submarine and, though Granados was picked up by a lifeboat, he jumped into the water to save his wife; both were drowned.

Granados had published his Spanish Dances in four sets of three beginning in 1892. They were greatly admired by Massenet, Cui, Saint-Saëns, and Grieg because of their new and distinctive expression of folk characteristics of many different regions of Spain. TheDances are often referred to by descriptive titles, only one of which—Villanesca (No. 4)—appeared in the original edition. Several of the Dances acquired titles when they were published separately during Granados’s lifetime. The famous No. 5 is often referred to as “Andaluza” as it represents that southern region of Spain. It follows a simple A-B-A form, with the interesting touch that the chordal “B” section is previewed toward the end of the “A” section. The strumming and picking effects that the piano imitated in the original, return to the instrument of their inspiration in the transcription by Miguel Llobet.

© Jane Vial Jaffe

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