MOST GIFTED CLASSICAL MUSIC CATALAN SINGERS & MUSICIANS
Catalonia has a long musical tradition, considered one of the oldest in Europe. Ever since the medieval times, our land has provided gifted musicians and singers that have enriched the music scene of Spain. And classical music has been an important part of that.
For some reason, though, Barcelona musicians have only occasionally reached world fame despite their evident quality. Today we’ll share with you the names any melomaniac needs to know about.
These are the Barcelona singers and musicians you must check out
Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) was a prodigy child. He was born in the mountains and was already giving concerts at age 4. At age 7 he entered the Conservatoire of Paris. He’s most known for his piano pieces, but he was also an opera and guitar composer. His music would influence Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.
Enrique Granados (1867-1916) was a gifted piano player who also wrote opera. He performed overseas for the US President Woodrow Wilson. He died on a ferry accident when his ship was hit by a German torpedo.
Alicia de Larrocha (1923-2009) was one of the best piano interpreters of the 20th century. She was a prodigy child who started studying piano at age 3. She won 4 Grammy awards, among other important prizes.
More recently, the piano player Josep Colom has won many competitions and prizes. He collaborates frequently with the most renowned Spanish and international orchestras.
Pau Casals (1876 – 1973) is the best cellist of the history of Spain and one of the greatest of all times world-wide. He performed for Queen Victoria, President JF Kennedy, and at the ONU headquarters where he pronounced a memorable speech about the Catalan land before playing his lullaby Song of a Bird.
Manuel Cañizares, born in 1966 and student of Paco de Lucía, he is considered one of the top guitar players of our times. Despite being mostly famous for his flamenco performances, his classic guitar soloes are of an exquisite quality.
The twin brothers Claret were born in 1951 in Andorra to a family of Catalan exiles. Gerard plays the violin, and Lluís the cello. Both have wined prestigious music competitions. Together with the piano player Albert Attenelle they constitute the Trio de Barcelona.
In Catalonia, wind instruments are most often associated to folk music. Gralla shawms animate human castle performances and traditional parades. For instance, Cobla bands specialize in sardana dance music. They are mostly composed of wind instruments: trumpets, a trombone, woodwinds… More recently jazz interpreters like young Andrea Motis have favored them too.
Nevertheless, our land has also produced relevant wind musicians in classical music. Joan Enric Luna is currently a leading Spanish clarinetist. He is a gifted soloist, but he also stands out for his collaborations with string quartets for chamber music. He is the founder of Moonwind. This chamber music band reunites top local wind musicians and a double bass.
As for flute stands out Claudi Arimany, considered the direct heir of Jean-Pierre Rampal. One of his passions is recovering long forgotten great composers of the past.
Barcelona and Catalonia are headquarters to outstanding orchestras. The most famous might be the OBC – Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra. They reside at the L’Auditori and a history that roots back to 1944.
Equally famous and almost a century older is the Orquestra Simfònica del Liceu. Being the house orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, it is devoted to opera and ballet.
Finally, to name of the few Catalan orchestras not based in Barcelona city, we want to bring your attention to the Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès, one of the most important private orchestras in our area (the ones we mentioned above are public entities). Besides playing at their main headquarters in Sabadell, they regularly run concerts at the Palau de la Música Catalana.
During the industrial revolution, composer Anselm Clavé (1824-1874) encouraged working class choirs. His hope was improving the emotional wellbeing of the poorest stratums of the society. Choirs would become a strong movement in Catalonia. And up to our days choirs continue to play an role in the introduction of music to children and adults alike.
The Barcelona leading concert halls all have their own choir. The Cor del Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Cor de Cambra del Palau de la Música Catalana… The historical Orfeo Catala started sang at Palau de la Música Catalana until the construction of L’Auditori. There are private choirs such as Lieder Camera.
And we couldn’t finish without mentioning one of the oldest white voices choir in Europe: the Escolania de Montserrat. This choir is exclusively composed of boys aged 10 to 14 and specializes in sacred music. The kids live in a boarding school at the Montserrat Monastery. There they sing Virgin Mary anthems a couple of times a day and participate in the mass singing.
AND BONUS! What are the most important Catalan singers of Bel Canto?
Barcelona has also produced world-class opera stars in our land. The mythical Victoria de los Ángeles (1923-2005) debuted as Mimi in La Bohème at the Liceu opera house. The recently deceased Montserrat Caball, did so as Strauss’ Arabella.
Tenor José Carreras is also born in Barcelona, where he started performing at age 11. He is particularly known for his roles on Verdi and Puccini operas. But mainstream public remember him for being one of The Three Tenor. His other two project companions were Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.
Perhaps less mediatic but of equal finesse, we can’t forget Jaume Aragall (also known as Giacomo Aragall from his debut in Venice and Milan).
Did you know all these masters were Catalan musicians?
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