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Fantasia Baetica (1919)

Manuel de Falla composed the "Fantasia Baetica" in 1919, at the close of his second Madrid period. It was commissioned by and dedicated to Arthur Rubinstein.

The abstract, large-scale work is a celebration of Andalusian culture and history, but not an historical evocation. Its influences draw from Falla's knowledge and experience of the the flamenco culture that evolved in Andalusia. The accomplished 20th century pianist and harpsichordist Professor Paul Jacobs writes: (1.)

Provinicia Baetica was the old Roman name for Andalusia and so a translation of the title might be "Andalusian Fantasy." Although the materials used are original with Falla, they strongly evoke the folk music of southern Spain:
the strident, sombre cante jondo sung in oriental-sounding scales, chords derived from guitar tunings, and a harsh percussive quality reminiscent of castanets and heel stamping.

The tonal originality of the Baetica is a result of Gypsy, 'Middle Eastern', Sephardic, Indian and subtle French influences woven into the harmonic language.

The fantasy is not considered part of the standard repertoire for concerts or competitions. It is not idiomatic writing for the piano, being rather difficult and uncomfortable under the hand. Falla was indeed a skilled pianist and experienced composer, so questions are raised to understand the tactile issues and its compositional nature.

To address these questions, the Falla scholar, Professor Nancy Lee Harper offers an elegant and engaging article titled
"The Interpretation of Manuel de Falla's Fantasia Baetica" available at the Ibla Foundation Home Page.


1. Program notes by Paul Jacobs on Arbiter Records

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Fantasia Baetica
Rochelle, K.

Jan 7, 2016
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