Treasures of The Library of Orfeó Català



The history of the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Orfeó Català is written with exceptional documents: testimonies concerning the figures that were there at its founding; documents showing the connections that the Palau de la Música Catalana established with contemporary composers, or with noted soloists, such as Wanda Landowska and Blanche Selva; and finally, concert programmes and iconographic documents.


The Iberias of Albèniz

Isaac Albéniz. Iberia [Selections]. Holograph. Musical manuscript, 5 vol. (35 x 27 cm)


The Iberias of Albèniz

The Iberias of Albéniz

Iberia is considered one of the principal and most difficult works of pianistic literature. When Isaac Albéniz (1860 – 1909) wrote it, he had left behind his career as a soloist and confined his premiers to pianists with whom he worked shoulder to shoulder, and he subjected them to rigorous testing; he counted above all on Blanche Selva and Joaquín Malats.

These two performers supplied the Library of Orfeó Català with the autograph manuscripts of five of the twelve pieces of Iberia (“Fête de Dieu à Séville” of book 1; “Rondeña”, “Almería” and “Triana” of book 2, and “El Polo” of book 3). It will be of surprise that the numbering of the pieces is different from that known (Albéniz corrected it in the second edition) and the first title of Spain (see the cover of “Triana”) was changed before the first publication. The pages are written on a sole side and the music is usually in red (or purple) ink, probably to facilitate the reading of the chords full of notes (“in the form of a bunch of grapes”) and almost punctilious spelling. There are many corrections made by Albéniz himself (scratched out fragments and glued papers) and in “Rondeña” we also find corrections by Selva. The numbers in pencil with bar distribution and at the foot with the plate number of the Édition Mutuelle in “Triana” indicate that they are manuscripts used to prepare the publication. The manuscript dedication of “El Polo” reflects the profound admiration that Albéniz felt toward his favourite performer: “To the most beloved, to the unique, to the vibrant and universal artist, to Malats.”

Settled in France, Albéniz was very connected to the musical life of Barcelona and with the Orfeó Català. He died one year after the inauguration of the Palau de la Música, where his works have often been performed.

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