Falla (y Matheu), Manuel de (1876–1946) By Payne, Alyson
Spanish composer Falla was the central figure of his generation, eclipsing composers such as Joaquín Turina and Joaquín Rodrigo. He blended Spanish musical nationalism, cultivated by Felipe Pedrell, Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados, with modernist techniques to create a style heralded as both universal and Spanish. After his death, he became a legendary national figure. Later Spanish composers, such as Cristóbal Halffter and Luis de Pablo, cite Falla as having the most profound effect on their esthetics.
Falla received his early musical training from his mother, who taught him piano in addition to the basics of music. As a boy, Falla had literary aspirations, creating several short-lived magazines with friends, such as El Burlón (1889) and El Cascabel (1890). His talent for writing would serve him well as he later authored articles on music and fashioned his own libretti. He eventually turned his creative energies toward music and, in 1896, Falla began taking trips to Madrid to study piano with José Tragó, who also taught the young composer Joaquín Turina. The two composers would eventually meet and form a mutually beneficial friendship. Taking up residence in Madrid, Falla enrolled in the Madrid Conservatory and graduated in 1899. He also began premiering piano compositions and works for small chamber groups.