Enrique Granados by Alicia de Larrocha

Written into the 70's

Even though I had never personally met Enrique Granados, I believe I feel very close to him and I have a feeling that he and I have been, during all my life, great friends. Because of his musical expression, his spontaneous and impulsive way of writing, because of everything I have heard about his humane personality through my mother, my aunt, and above all through my maestro and through Granados' daughter, Natalia, a very close friend. I am certain that we would have understood each other very well, especially because we have very similar temperaments. I say this because I had always felt a huge attraction to the fiery expansion of his music, the fascinating lyricism, the internal vein and endlessness of his inspiration, the witty and picaresque sense of his rhythm,  fruit of a sense of humor full of spirit, the intimate and immense poetry, the faded perfume of his melancholy… and the absolute absence of decadent sentimentalism, which was so in fashion during that period. Because of that, and because my maestro had instilled in me the music of Granados and the devotion to his personality with great enthusiasm; because this pure and authentic source not only did not devalue its origin as time went by, but carried out and gave life to many ideas outlined only by my maestro's  maestro; for “something” that is impossible to translate, I have always felt bewitched when I interpret Granados.

Granados was… a combination of a boy and a man: he went from being ready to laugh to feel his eyes tear up  Full of mood swings. Enormously sensitive and willing to let himself be used, especially when it was because of beautiful feminine eyes… A dreamer to the point of forgetting the realities of his life. Child like, full of light and gloom. Kindhearted and compassionate to his fellow men. He had two very notable personalities, in eternal struggle and contradiction: one,  that of a man tired for working so much, with a distant look, a dreaming mind, the spirit of a great poet. The other, that of a man who overflows and squanders passion, capable of moving the deepest, even to the most indifferent. It is not in vain that he had inherited the West Indian blood of his Cuban father.

 

ANECDOTES

  • It is said that, in one of his concerts, the audience was cold and short on applause. When the recital was over, Granados was so outraged over the audience’s indifference, that with true anger, he said to someone next to him: “Now you will see how I’ll make these cretins change”. As if he were driven by a supernatural power, he quickly went on the stage and began to improvise something that captivated the audience. While taking a bow, in response to the ovation,he was heard to grumble: “Miserable and unhappy humanity…”
  • A great example of his ease at improvising brings us to the following anecdote:The day that Granados wanted to put on the program El Pelele (recently finished), he entrusted his student  and collaborator, F. Marshall,  with passing the pages of the manuscript during the concert, since he hadn't had enough time to memorize it. Soon after he began to play, Marshall realized with amazement that nothing that Granados was playing was part of the manuscript, so he decided to stay still and enjoy listening to a “new” and brilliant Pelele.
  • My mother and my aunt would say that Granados did not like his students to play his masterpieces (the mediocre ones, of course), and that when his confused friends asked him why, he answered: “I prefer them to play Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or Chopin. It cannot cause them any pain… But to me, yes… I am still here and I hear it!”
  • His pedagogic integrity was such that, one time, when someone went to play for him with the hope to become his student,  Granados asked the supposed pianist if he would play a Sonata by Beethoven,  when he responded that he played all of them, Granados opened the door and dismissing him cordially  said: “I’m very sorry; I can’t do anything for you. You play all of Beethoven’s Sonatas… When you would have forgotten all of them and properly worked only on one, come back to see me.”
  • He was extremely absentminded.  Once, Mr. Ernesto de Quesada (a businessman of that time) was interested in hearing his Tonadillas y Canciones Amatorias. Granados immediately called Conchita Badía (a very dear student and a very talented singer to whom Granados dedicated many of his songs) saying “Come and bring my songs!” During the audition, dedicated to Quesada the businessman, somebody knocked at the door, interrupting the improvised recital, to announce that there was a gentleman waiting for Mr. Quesada. Granados was so annoyed with the untimely call and was so absorbed with his music that he furiously exclaimed: “I hope they kill this Mr. Quesada!”…
  • His kindness was extreme. When one of his patrons, Salvador Andreu, decided to fire an unfortunate piano teacher so that Granados would replace him in his daughter’s musical education, he ran into the previous teacher in the same house. When he saw his helpless old colleague, Granados forced him to stay, invited him to play, and listened to his music respectfully, and even played four-hand with him.