Federico Mompou

1893 - 1987

Spanish

Summary

Although Mompou studied piano and harmony in Barcelona and Paris, he had no formal training in composition. Many of his works are based on traditional Catalan melodies, though the refined fluency of melody and harmony - together with the occasional influence of jazz - betray his love of French composers such as Fauré, Ravel and Satie. Mompou wrote almost exclusively for solo piano, sometimes with the addition of solo voice, and this preference for small and intimate genres forms reflected his own private nature.
Critical Acclaim
Mompou’s music is ethereal and enigmatic. One can only take the descriptions in their titles as very rough guides for these evocations are very personal and often dream-like. The music has an appealing childlike innocence and purity. - Ian Lace, MusicWeb International

The music of Federico Mompou is the music of evaporation. The printed page seems to have faded, as if the bar lines, time signatures, key signatures, and even the notes themselves have disappeared over a timeless number of years. There is no development of material, little counterpoint, no drama nor climaxes to speak of; and this simplicity of expression—elusive, evasive and shy—is strangely disarming. There is nowhere for the sophisticate to hide with Mompou. We are in a glasshouse, and the resulting transparency is unnerving, for it creates a reflection in which our face and soul can be seen. ... The composer’s muse begins and ends with innocence as a search for air beyond the smoke of experience. ... Mompou’s eyes are wide open, sparkling like a child’s, and his smile has all the surprise and enthralment of Creation itself. - Stephen Hough

Biography

Federico Mompou studied piano as a child with the maestro Pedro Sierra in Barcelona, and gave his first concert in the Sala Orfeo when he was just 15 years old. The visit by Gabriel Faurè to Barcelona in 1909 was influential in his decision to focus on composition. He studied in Paris as advised by Enrique Granados, and built a great friendship with the professor and pianist Ferdinand Motte-Lacroix who premiered his first works. He settled in Paris with long stays in Barcelona during the First World War, until 1941 when he finally established himself in his native city and married the pianist Carmen Bravo. Numerous accolades followed: in 1952 he was elected to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes of San Jorge; in 1958 he was named Professor of Composition at the Santiago de Compostela Courses; and in 1979 he received the National Music Prize. Considered one of the most important exponents of Catalan and Spanish music in the 20th Century, his works for piano have been performed internationally and are placed next to Albéniz, Granados, Falla and Turina, as an indispensable part of this era of European music.

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Discography