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Halffter, Rodolfo (1900 - 1987)

Rodolfo Halffter was born in 1900 in Madrid, Spain into a family of musicians, the brother of Ernesto Halffter and uncle of Cristóbal Halffter, both also composers. His father Ernesto Halffter Hein came from Königsberg, Germany. His mother was a Catalan who taught the first music lessons to her children.

Rodolfo Hallfter, like his brother Ernesto, studied with Manuel de Falla but was otherwise self-taught. In the 1930's he took part in the intellectual environment of Madrid, particularly in the composers' society "Grupo de los Ocho" or "Grupo de Madrid". This avant-garde group, influenced by the Spanish musician Adolfo Salazar (1890-1958), sought to combat musical conservatism, embracing the then-new works of Debussy, Schoenberg, Ravel and Bartók. It was in this period that Halffter wrote the majority of his most important works, while at the same time working as a music critic in La Voz as well as in the propaganda ministry of the Republican government. Being on the side of the Republicans, his brother Ernesto being a supporter of Franco, made life difficult for him during the Spanish Civil War, so at the end of the war in 1939 he went into exile in Mexico.

In Mexico he taught at the National Conservatory, working with the prominent Mexican composers Carlos Chávez and Blas Galindo, and was director of Ediciones Mexicanas de Música, while continuing to compose and never abandoning the ideals of the "Grupo de los Ocho". His works combine free polytonality with Scarlatti-like neo-classicism, and as from 1953 he embraced serialism, however without letting this significantly alter his style (he is sometimes called the founding father of Mexican serialism). Among his works we find ballets, piano music, and a violin concerto.

After 1963, Halffter returned to Spain several times, teaching in Granada and Santiago de Compostela and taking part in music festivals. He received numerous awards and honours both in Spain and Mexico. He died in Mexico in 1987.


  1. Bagatelas op. 19
  2. Dos Sonatas de el Escorial
Jan 5, 2016
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