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Albéniz was born in Camprodon in Catalonia and was a musical child prodigy. Piano lessons at the age of six he received in Paris by Antoine François Marmontel. He then studied at the Conservatory of Madrid and continued to give concerts as a child prodigy until he was fifteen. In 1876, he studied in Leipzig and got two months than a Royal scholarship to go to the Brussels Conservatory (composition with François-Auguste Gevaert and piano with Louis Brassin). In 1879 he obtained the first prize for piano and made a successful concert tour of Europe. He wanted to study with Liszt and made a futile trip to Budapest, because Liszt was in Weimar.
In 1883 he settled in Barcelona. He decided under the influence of the musicologist Felipe Pedrell to write from now on "Spanish music". Meanwhile, he married Rosita Jordana.
In 1886 he composed:
- Estudio de concierto on 40 and
- Concierto fantástico at 78 still in the style of Liszt and Chopin, but
- Suite Española on 47 and
- Rhapsody Española for piano and Orchestra on 70 are already typically Spanish.
From 1890 to 1893 as Albéniz worked in London, conductor in the Prince of Wales Theatre. He learned the wealthy Francis Money-Coutts amateur librettist, which offered him a contract to his lyrics on music to put.The cooperation was not smooth and there were only three completed operas and some songs to 1905.
- Pepita Jiménez also had success outside Spain,
- Merlin, the first part of a partly completed King Arthur Trilogy was recorded only in 2001 and stepped up in 2003.
After 1900, Albéniz complaints from the kidney disease that would lead to his death. He now wrote for piano. From 1906 to 1909 he worked on his swansong Iberia, four bundles of three impressions which is a synthesis of the piano technique of Liszt, impressionism and the Andalusian folk music. Prior to this magnum opus, Albéniz completed 1890 the Suite España. This suite contains not yet the strong coherence between the parts such as in Iberia, but seems to be the prelude to this work. Iberia is a journey through cities and parts of Spain; Suite España is a journey through various music and dance forms.
- Albéniz, Sa vie, son oeuvre -g. Laplane, 1956, Paris (also contains list of works)