I. Los políticos
II. La Leocadia
2016 marks the hundredth anniversary of the untimely death of Enrique Granados, one of the greatest Spanish pianists and composers of his time. After the premiere of his opera Goyescas in New York, and with tickets in hand for his ship voyage back to Spain, he received an invitation from President Woodrow Wilson to honor him for his successful opera performance. This caused a delay that required him to seek new passage, this time on a non-neutral boat. Close to his arrival to France, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. On March 24, 1916, Granados died trying to save his wife Amparo from drowning.
Enrique Granados completed in 1911 a piano suite called Goyescas, perhaps his most famous work. This set of piano pieces would later encourage the writing of the before-mentioned opera of the same name. Goyescas is a piano suite of six movements in two books, motivated by paintings of the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya.
Inspired by Granados, the man and the composer, this contemporary “Goyescas” reflects on paintings of Goya completed around 100 years before the suite by Granados (around the 1810s) to serve as a tribute to this remarkable composer. The composition, with a duration of approximately eleven minutes, is scored for piano trio (violin, violoncello, and piano) and features three contrasting movements, each one devoted to an individual painting by the Spanish master.
Granados did not explicitly describe musically several paintings of Goya, but instead he captured the essence of the characters in the paintings, particularly the “majos” and “majas” – Castilian working class people of the late 18th Century. Granados decided to take on these earlier, more luminous paintings/drawings of Goya. In contrast, this work uses three of his “Black Paintings.”
The Black Paintings were painted on the walls of his home of solitude in Madrid (“La finca del sordo,” “Deaf man’s villa”). Given the political turmoil he saw in Spain during the decade of the 1810s, these haunting paintings became very introvert but expressive, passionate works about his own fears, almost expressionist and they portray a more pessimistic view about the future of society.
“Los políticos” (Politicians) is a representation of the political intrigue and turmoil that happened in the second half of the 1810s and the 1820s in Spain, when the Spanish King Ferdinand VII returned to Spain after the Spaniards ended the French occupation. By that time, a Constitution (the first one) had been created, which promoted great freedoms and liberty to all people. In contrast, the new king decided to rule as an old-regime, absolutist monarch. The painting (and the music) depict the inner workings (and possibly conspiracies) of a political class yearning for paths to achieve freedom.
“La Leocadia” probably portrays Leocadia Weiss, who took care for many years of Francisco de Goya at his old age. It is possible that their were romantically in love and that in this painting, Goya is portraying Leocadia as a widow by Goya’s own tomb. In any case, there is great sadness, nostalgia, and tenderness in this painting, which has been reflected in the music, especially at the very poignant and emotional closing.
“Aquelarre” (Witches’ Sabbath) was painted by Goya first in 1798. The Black Painting from around 1821 presents much darker tones and features fear in a way that won’t probably be seen until the 20th century. Disfigured faces, ear-piercing cries, and a sense of constant, wild motion are all qualities that are depicted in this third and last movement of the composition.
This work is not yet available, pending its world premiere.