June 15, 2021

Cristóbal Halffter, “the avant-garde musician who claimed tradition”


Madrid, May 23 (EFE) .- With the death of the composer and conductor Cristóbal Halffter, who died today at the age of 91, Spanish music loses one of the main defenders of its distinctive character, but not on the cliché nationalist who always rejected, but going to the true bases to modernize it.


Composer and conductor Cristóbal Halffter dies

Composer and conductor Cristóbal Halffter dies

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In this regard, he acknowledged the paradox: “I am an avant-garde musician who claims tradition,” the winner of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in 2010 told Efe, one of the many awards he received while alive throughout the world. world.

Son of the also conductor Pedro Halffter, with him one of the most notable representatives of the so-called Generation of 51 disappears, that of Luis de Pablo, Manuel Moreno-Buendía or Antón García Abril, who also died this year in March .

Based in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​they set out to break the prevailing nationalist aesthetic until then and introduce modernity into music, in line with the other artistic avant-gardes and initially betting on atonal music.

His was one of the two works that in 1959 marked the future and thrust of his thesis, “Sonata de Barce, Sonata for solo violin”, already characterized by a conscientious use of serialism.

One of the most committed moments of his career occurred in 1989, when he was rejected by the professors of the National Orchestra of Spain to occupy the position of artistic director and he decided to break his commitments as main guest conductor for contemporary music, the century XX in general and the Spanish in particular.

The “lack of dialogue” was what caused that disagreement, he said years later, when he returned to direct the ONE for his work “Daliniana”. It would be just one of his many returns to the forefront of this ensemble.

The moments before the curtain rose with each new work, she said to live them as “a lady before childbirth.” “The moment of the premiere is that of the confrontation of reality with the imagination, the opportunity to experience the magical space, although one already imagines what it is like that one has created,” he explained.

In the more than one hundred works that he composed in his career, such as “Fanfare for Peace”, he affirmed that there was “no political or social commitment, but human and humanistic.” of everything, “he needed.

A lover of the work of Cervantes, Dalí, Machado or the fandangos of Father Antonio Soler, he used to say that our ears had become accustomed to the “vulgarity” in music imposed by the media. “I stay with Machado’s poetry, I don’t need Serrat’s music,” he came to comment on the matter.

“We are living in historical moments of the most serious significance, in which banality, mediocre things are promoted, what the masses like are rewarded, which we have previously convinced to like what we are going to give them later”, argued this defender of the book above all things.

Of his work he used to say that it was “very Spanish”, but far from the cliché that people had of it from the outside, that is, “from the postcard” of Maurice Ravel or “la Carmen, the bullfighter, the faca and the castanets “.

“In a time of false and terrible nationalisms, it is absolutely necessary to revisit the rich nuances of Cervantes’s work,” he argued when under this assumption he lit his first opera, “Don Quixote”, inspired by the most famous of novels.

It was in the year 2000, when the bulk of his career was already written, and if it took him so long to get into this genre, it was because it was difficult for him to find the right material for it, but it was a success that ratified him in the reasons why the he had chosen: “To claim once again the utopia for today’s society, a utopia that is not based solely on material goods.”

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