Cover image for Isaac Albéniz : portrait of a romantic
Isaac Albéniz : portrait of a romantic
Clark, Walter Aaron.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 321 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1480 Lexile.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.A3 C53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Walter Aaron Clark here presents, for the first time in English, a detailed and accurate account of one of the most intriguing figures in the Romantic period. Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909), a renowned concert pianist, created a national style of Spanish piano music and also fostered the growth of the concerto, orchestral music, and opera in Spain. As a touring child prodigy who supposedly stowed away on a steamer to the New World, later studied with Liszt, and eventually got ensnared in a "Faustian pact" with the wealthy English librettist, Frances Burdett Money-Coutts, Albeniz has become somewhat of a legend. Based on a wealth of new and previously overlooked documentary evidence, this biography debunks the mythology surrounding his career, much of it spun by the composer himself.

Author Notes

Walter Aaron Clark is at University of Kansas.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Clark (Univ. of Kansas) provides the first English language biography of this Spanish master, and he is the first to make use of heretofore uncollected documentary data. A relatively minor figure internationally, Albeniz was a central player in the revival of Spanish music at the close of the 19th century. Known chiefly for his piano music (Albeniz was a virtuoso pianist), he also made important contributions to Spanish orchestral and operatic music. Clark covers all this thoroughly and is remarkably objective and insightful about Albeniz's complicated relationship with his English patron, banking-scion-turned-opera-librettist Francis Burdett Money-Coutts. Coutts's support enabled Albeniz to pursue his composing career free of financial cares, but Albeniz's abortive efforts on behalf of Coutts's Arthurian libretti prompted the belief that the composer and Coutts had a "Faustian" pact. Clark demolishes such notions through the convincing use of letters and other documents. Although he is not entirely successful in establishing which elements of Albeniz's musical style render the music individual or significant, this biography brings back to the attention of musicians and music lovers a composer of appealing music that helped to inspire the Spanish musical renaissance. Two appendixes (the second a list of works) and an extensive bibliography. Useful in all libraries. F. Goossen; University of Alabama

Table of Contents

Introduction: `Step by Step'
1 The Phenomenon (1860-75)
2 With Distinction (1876-88)
3 Veni, Vidi, Vici (1889-93)
4 Prophet with Honour (1894-95)
5 A Man of Importance (1896-97)
6 The Imperfect Wagnerite (1898-1904)
7 Iberia (1905-9)
8 The Legacy of Albeniz
Appendix 1 Genealogical Tree
Appendix 2 List of Works
Index of Works
General Index