Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz, Spain (1860-1909)
Isaac Albéniz was born on 29 May, 1860 in Camprodón in Catalan of the northeastern Spain. He was an exceptionally gifted child for music and allready at the age of four he gave his first performance in Barcelona. Two years later his mother took him to Paris where he during 9 months had lessons at Antoine Marmontell, was a professor at the Paris Conservatory.
He could not be enrolled at the conservatory however, beacause he was too young.
In 1868 the family moved to Madrid, hvere Isaac was enrolled at the Escuela Nacional de Música y Declamación – the present Royal Conservatory of Music. He was soon recognized as a child prodigy and compared to Mozart. But the young Isaac did not feel comfortable with the surroundings. In periods he run away from home and rebelled in various ways.
Albéniz performed first time at the American continent in 1875, when he gave a series of concerts in Puerto Rico. He had left Spain with his father, who was transferred as a custom inspector to Havana, Cuba.
Upon returning to Spain the same year, he gave a long series of concerts around in Spain, but felt the need for developing his skills. So he continued his studies in 1876 at the Leipzig Conservatory. Here he studied the piano and composition, but after just two months he returned to Spain. The German language, the German disciplin, the teachers handling of the subject and the stay without money didn not suit him well.
In stead of he went to Brussels to continue the studies. From a Royal stipend he got the resources for the stay. Here he won the first price in piano performance in 1879 and shortly after he made a successfull tour of Europe.
In 1880 he went to Budapest to study at Liszt, but Liszt was in Weimar, so Albéniz returned to Spain, where he in the following couple of years gave concerts and toured as a conductor and manager for a traveling zarzuela company (zarzuela: a special Spanish type of music-theater).
After a tour in Argentina in 1883 he settled down in Barcelona. Here he got in contact with Felipe Pedrell. The acquaintance caused Albéniz interest for the pecularity of the Spanish music. The same year he was married to Rosita Jordana, who also was a student of Pedrell.
In 1885 the couple settled down in Madrid, where Albéniz quickly established himself as a performer of highest rank. From 1889 he toured Europe with great success, but it was especially in London he unfold himself.
In 1894 he took up his residence in Paris, where he met many of the most distinguished musicians of that time. In the newly founded Schola Cantorum he taught an advanced piano course during the winter 1897-1898. Here he also was inspired for compositions of greater scope and dimensions.
From about 1900 his kidney disease began to cause him serious problems, his wife became serious ill and the one of their three children died. Albéniz suffered from all this and had troubles to finish more of his ongoing works. However Iberia – a suite of 12 pianopieces – was made in this period, from 1905 to 1909. These technical difficult pieces belongs to the standard repertoire of to days pianists.
In 1909 the family moved to Cambo-les-Bains in the French Pyrenees. Here Albéniz died on May 18, 1909. His body was taken to Barcelona, where he is buried.