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Sacred Passions : The Life and Music of Manuel de Falla - Carol A. Hess

Sacred Passions

The Life and Music of Manuel de Falla

Hardcover Published: 1st December 2004
ISBN: 9780195145618
Number Of Pages: 368

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The work of composer Manuel de Falla (1876-1946) ranges from late-romantic salon pieces to evocations of flamenco to stark neoclassicism. Yet his music has met with conflicting reactions, depending on the audience. In his native Spain, Falla is considered the most innovative composer of the first half of the twentieth century. Likewise, in the United States, Falla enjoyed a strong following in the concert hall. But many of his works, especially some of the "colorful" or "exotic" dances from The Three-Cornered Hat and El Amor Brujo, were taken up during the Latin music craze of the 1930s and 40s and appeared in everything from jazz and pop arrangements to MGM musicals. Similarly enigmatic are the details of Falla's life. He never sustained a lasting, intimate relationship with a woman, yet he created compelling female roles for the lyric stage. Although he became incensed when publishers altered his music, he more than once tinkered with Chopin and Debussy. Despite insisting that he was apolitical, Falla ultimately took sides in the Spanish Civil War, initially allying himself rather half-heartedly with Franco's Nationalists but later rejecting the honors they proffered. All his life, his rigorous brand of Roman Catholicism brought him both solace and agony in his quest for spiritual and artistic perfection.
In Sacred Passions: The Life and Music of Manuel de Falla, Carol A. Hess explores these contradictions and offers a fresh understanding of this fascinating composer. Building on over a decade of research, Hess examines Falla's work in terms of musical style and explores the cultural milieus in which he worked. During a seven-year sojourn to Paris just pior to World War I, Falla associated with composers Dukas, Stravinsky, Ravel, and the rest of the group known as les Apaches. Later, back in Spain, he played a pivotal role in the remarkable cultural renaissance known as the "Silver Age," during which Lorca, BuAuel, DalA-, Unamuno-and of course Falla himself-made some of their boldest artistic statements.
Hess also explores a number of myths cultivated in earlier biographies, including Falla's supposed misogynistic tendencies and accusations of homosexuality, which have led some biographers to consider him a saint-like ascetic. She offers a balanced view of his behavior during the Spanish Civil War, a wrenching event for a Spaniard of his generation, and one that Falla biographers have left largely untouched. With superb analysis of his music and enlightening detail about its critical reception, Hess also examines Falla's status in some circles as little more than a high-class pop composer, given the mass appeal of much of his music. She incorporates recent research on Falla, draws upon untapped sources in the Falla archives, and reevaluates his work in terms of current issues in musicology.
Ultimately, Hess places Falla's variegated ouevre, which straddles popular and serious idioms, securely among the best of his better-known European contemporaries. What emerges is a gracefully written, balanced portrait of a man whose lofty spiritual values inspired singular musical utterances but were often at odds with the decidedly imperfect world he inhabited.

"A model of academic biography...scrupulous accuracy and unflinching fair-mindedness."--Stephen Brown, Times Literary Supplement "Hess's book sheds light on Falla's education and ideology and stands out as a major contribution to the history of Spanish music.... It paves the way for new research on Falla's life and music that might significantly change our views on twentieth-century musical historiography in Spain."--Enrique Sacau, l Saggiatore Musicale "Hess...explains the origins of Falla's religious devotion, his education, and the problems with the premiere of La vida breve and its relation to the politics of the day, with an agil narrative and, at the same time, a capacity to hit a raw nerve in a way that we are not accustomed to in works dealing with Spanish music. This quality is probably the key to enjoying the book...Right now, if you want a biography of Falla...buy this one without a moment's hesitation."--Mundoclasico.com "Carol A. Hess has written a sophisticated biography of Manuel de Falla that engages with the composer's personality, religious convictions, and complex political circumstances, while deftly incorporating commentary on his music into the narrative. A stimulating book and a valuable contribution to the growing body of scholarship on twentieth-century Spanish music."--Dr. Michael Christoforidis, Lecturer in Musicology, University of Melbourne "An altogether superior production is Sacred Passions It is a model of academic biography, with scrupulous accuracy and unflinching fair mindesness."-Times Literary Supplement "As Carol A. Hess demonstrates in this splendidly written study, the life of Manuel de Falla was replete with musical, political, and personal contradictions. His most famous work, the sensuous El amor brujo, 'one of my sins,' was produced by a composer who, according to Stravinsky, was 'cruelly religious' yet beloved by his friends for his warmth and kindness. A black-clad, tortured ascetic, Falla lived a fascinating life and it is vividly recreated with insight and sensitivity."--Paul Preston, London School of Economics and Political Science "A model of academic biography...scrupulous accuracy and unflinching fair-mindedness."--Stephen Brown, Times Literary Supplement "Hess's book sheds light on Falla's education and ideology and stands out as a major contribution to the history of Spanish music.... It paves the way for new research on Falla's life and music that might significantly change our views on twentieth-century musical historiography in Spain."--Enrique Sacau, l Saggiatore Musicale "Hess...explains the origins of Falla's religious devotion, his education, and the problems with the premiere of La vida breve and its relation to the politics of the day, with an agil narrative and, at the same time, a capacity to hit a raw nerve in a way that we are not accustomed to in works dealing with Spanish music. This quality is probably the key to enjoying the book...Right now, if you want a biography of Falla...buy this one without a moment's hesitation."--Mundoclasico.com "Carol A. Hess has written a sophisticated biography of Manuel de Falla that engages with the composer's personality, religious convictions, and complex political circumstances, while deftly incorporating commentary on his music into the narrative. A stimulating book and a valuable contribution to the growing body of scholarship on twentieth-century Spanish music."--Dr. Michael Christoforidis, Lecturer in Musicology, University of Melbourne "An altogether superior production is Sacred Passions It is a model of academic biography, with scrupulous accuracy and unflinching fair mindesness."-Times Literary Supplement "As Carol A. Hess demonstrates in this splendidly written study, the life of Manuel de Falla was replete with musical, political, and personal contradictions. His most famous work, the sensuous El amor brujo, 'one of my sins,' was produced by a composer who, according to Stravinsky, was 'cruelly religious' yet beloved by his friends for his warmth and kindness. A black-clad, tortured ascetic, Falla lived a fascinating life and it is vividly recreated with insight and sensitivity."--Paul Preston, London School of Economics and Political Science

ISBN: 9780195145618
ISBN-10: 0195145615
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 1st December 2004
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.3  x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.65