If I were asked to name off famous pianists and composers, I would list classics like Mozart, Chopin, Bach, etc. After asking my boss, Linda Wehrli (who is also a classically trained pianist!), who we should feature in our next Music History blog, she readily suggested one of her favorites, Spanish master pianist Federico Mompou. Federico who? I hadn’t heard of him before. I was eager to learn about this musician about whom my boss was so passionate!
Mompou was born in Barcelona in 1893. After studying at the Conservatorio del Liceu, he gave his first concert at the age of 15. I was shocked to learn that Mompou was so incredibly shy and reticent that he chose composing over performing, only after hearing French composer, Gabriel Fauré‘s Quintet. Three years later, with a letter of recommendation from another of my boss’ favorite Spanish composers, Enrique Granados, Monpou was off to Paris to study harmony and piano with Isidor Philipp and Ferdinand Motte-Lacroix. Mompou settled permanently in Barcelona in 1941, after successfully composing for 20 years in Paris. In 1957, he married the Catalan pianist Carmen Bravo. Mompou died in Barcelona on June 30th, 1987.
As a guitarist and artist, I find it fascinating when a musician’s personality is portrayed in their work. This was surely the case with Mompou. Because he was a quiet, modest man, he did not write symphonies and operas, nor concertos. His style ranged from gracefully impressionistic to simplistic and minimal. For Mompou, less is more and therefore, he predominantly composed lyrical songs and piano miniatures. If you hear the sound of bells in his work, this is because Mompou worked in a bell factory as a young man. Suffice it to say, Mompou was very successful; he was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, elected to the Royal Academy of San Jorge in Barcelona and of San Fernando in Madrid, and made Doctor Honoris Causa at the University of Barcelona.
Please enjoy listening to the selection of Mompou’s work that I chose for this blog. I hope it inspires you to learn more about and listen to more of this remarkable composer’s works.
Music History 101 reviews selected artists from periods of history that continue to influence today’s culture and taste. If you enjoyed this story, please feel free to share on your favorite social media to get the word out about this great musician! Comments welcome. If there is an artist you would like us to feature, please comment below. Thank you for your support!
For over 25 years, Pastimes for a Lifetime has been providing innovative and inspiring piano lessons to children, teens, adults and seniors. Programs are designed to bring out the inner musician in each and every student. If you or your child is ready to learn to play the piano, call 818.766.0614 or email the school to set up a free consultation with pianist and instructor, Linda Wehrli.