Isaac Albéniz was a Spanish composer, conductor and pianist, best known for his stage works and his piano compositions. Albéniz was a highly influential and prolific composer and his work has had a huge impact on Spanish music. In honour of the composer, the Fundación Isaac Albéniz was founded in 1987 in order to promote Spanish music and musicians and to provide research facilities for Albéniz and Spanish music in general. He is without doubt one of Spain’s most important and inspiring composers.
Albéniz was born in Camprodón, Gerona in 1860. One year later he and his family moved to Barcelona and even at this early stage, his musical talents were becoming apparent. His sister, Clementina began giving him piano lessons and by the age of four he was already considered a child prodigy. Albéniz gave his first public performance at the age of five, at the Teatro Romea, Barcelona. Shortly afterwards he travelled to Paris to be considered for entry to the Paris Conservatoire, however he was rejected as a result of being too young. Albéniz and his family moved back to Spain where he and Clementina spent the majority of their childhoods performing at recitals around the country to earn money for the family following their father’s loss of his government post in 1868. Albéniz’s studies and education were constantly disrupted as a result of the time he spent travelling to and preparing for these recitals. However, the family soon moved to Madrid and Albéniz enrolled in the Escuela Nacional de Música y Declamación.
It was not until 1975 that Albéniz finally settled down into his studies after years of living as a travelling pianist. He spent a short time at the Leipzig Conservatoire during 1876 before receiving a stipend to study at the Brussels Conservatory. During his time at the Conservatory, he studied piano with Franz Rummel and Louis Brassin and was awarded a first prize. In 1880, Albéniz returned to Madrid where he continued to pursue his career as a pianist and he also began to conduct. In 1883, he moved to Barcelona and studied composition with Felipe Pedrell (with whom Manuel de Falla would also study, in the early 1900s) while also teaching piano. That same year, he married Rosa Jordana and within two years they had moved to Madrid, where the Albéniz began to establish his career in performing and teaching.