Manuel de Falla's Cuatro piezas españolas: combinations and transformations of the Spanish folk modes

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2007-05

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Liao, Yu-Hsuan, 1977-

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Abstract

The intention of this study is to demonstrate how special modal and tonal constructions and their interactions in Cuatro Piezas Españoles (1906-1909) are basic in the integration of Manuel de Falla's musical language. His modal techniques represent a significant contribution to the rebirth of Spanish nationalism. His use of modal variants, which are derived from his native folk-music sources, is the basis for expanding his musical language into a large-scale system. In this work, Falla employs various means of transforming the modes into a modernistic idiom. Falla' Cuatro Piezas Españoles is considered his first major piano work, in which he arrived at a technical command and maturity in both compositional and pianistic practices. He had begun composing Cuatro Piezas Españoles in 1906 in Madrid and completed them in Paris. The four pieces, "Aragonesa," "Cubana," "Montañesa," and "Andaluza," were published by Durand in 1909. Although Falla wrote few piano works in general, Cuatro Piezas Españoles is exemplary of his development from Romantic tonality to the modalities of Spanish folk music. Thus, the study of Cuatro Piezas Españoles seems to be an ideal compositional source for evaluating Falla's compositional process during the period of integration of his musical language. This treatise demonstrates how special modal and tonal constructions and their synthesis basic in the formulation and interoperation of the composer's means of expression. In the introductory chapter, I explored Falla's musical language, focusing on the historical background, modal constrictions in Spanish folk music, and the influence of Debussy. Chapters two to five contain the analyses of each piece of Cuatro Piezas Españoles, respectively. The result of the study is summarized in the conclusion.

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