Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Enrique Granados: what he did for love

Growing up with a love of classical guitar music (and feeble attempts to play same) I was intrigued by a tidbit I recently discovered about Enrique Granados (1867–1916), a Spanish composer who features prominently in its repertoire.
We're all researching aspects of World War I in preparing a new Forum commemorating its 100th anniversary, and I found out that Granados died in the English Channel trying to save his wife after their boat was attacked by a German submarine.
Despite a morbid fear of water, Granados had taken his first ocean voyage to New York City for the 28 January 1916 premiere of his opera Goyescas. Based on the paintings of Goya, it originated as a suite for piano. The opera was supposed to have debuted in 1914, but the outbreak of World War I forced the cancellation of its European premiere.
While in the U.S., Granados recorded player piano music rolls for the Aeolian Company and performed a piano recital for President Woodrow Wilson. The delay incurred by accepting the recital invitation caused Granados to miss his boat back to Spain. He boarded a ship to England, where he caught the passenger ferry Sussex for Dieppe. On the way across the English Channel, the Sussex was torpedoed by a German U-boat, as part of the German World War I policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. In a failed attempt to save his wife Amparo, whom he saw at a distance thrashing in the water, Granados jumped out of his lifeboat and drowned. So sad!
For those of you lucky enough to be proficient on guitar or piano, we have the sheet music of Granados' Spanish Dance No. 5 ("Andaluza"). And below are interpretations on both instruments, with Granados himself on one of the aforementioned piano rolls.

Another master of Spanish music can be heard on this recording by Dame Moura Lympany, who performs Manuel de Falla's supremely evocative Nights in the Gardens of Spain.
You can take a sneak peek at some of the many offerings related to the upcoming Daedalus Books World War I Forum here. It will feature award-winning history titles, films, novels, and more. As usual, there will be quizzes, polls, videos, and links to interesting articles—as well as opportunities for discounts on our already low prices.

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