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24 October 2022

The Museu de la Música in Barcelona commemorates the centenary of the death of Felip Pedrell with a major exhibition

The event runs from 25 October to 26 February in the new temporary exhibition space at the Museum.
The curators are Marc Heilbron, Cristina Álvarez and Ilaria Sartori.
The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra is taking part in the centenary celebrations with performances of the symphonic poems I trionfi and Excelsior and a new recording.

The Museu de la Música in Barcelona commemorates the centenary of the death of Felip Pedrell with a major exhibition

The Museu de la Música de Barcelona - Centre Robert Gerhard presents the exhibition “L’empremta de Pedrell” (Pedrell’s Legacy), commemorating the centenary of the death of Tortosa-born musicologist and teacher Felip Pedrell (1841-1922), which runs from 25 October 2022 to 26 February 2023. The exhibition, housed in a renovated space in the Museu de la Música, has been curated by Marc Heilbron, Cristina Álvarez and Ilaria Sartori.

The exhibition has been prepared in consultation with a scientific committee and includes original documents and other objects linked to the composer and his legacy, provided by over twenty institutions and lending collections.

The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra will also contribute to the Pedrell commemoration, performing two symphonic poems by the composer, conducted by Ludovic Morlot and Marta Gardolińksa: Excelsior and I trionfi. The latter piece will also be heard during the Orchestra’s tour of Catalonia this season. The works will be recorded by the OBC together with the overtures from the operas L’ultimo abenzeraggio and Cléopâtre. All the works will be conducted by Ludovic Morlot.

The exhibition marking the centenary of the death of Felip Pedrell invites us to reflect on the modernity and relevance of the ideas that underlie his work. In line with the regenerating currents of his time, which called for a new drive and a reform in Spanish culture, Pedrell was one of the first to introduce Wagnerism in the Iberian peninsula. It was not, however, a matter of imitating Wagner but rather of developing a musical identity that could serve as an aesthetic model for the creation of a national school of music. Consequently, in line with the ideas of other European schools, he argued that composers should take inspiration from the music of the past and the oral traditions associated with it to feed the creation of the music of the future.

This research made him a pioneer of musicology in this country, although he always emphasised the importance of his work as a composer. His interest in the field led to over 700 publications, two of which should be highlighted: his monumental study of sixteenth-century polyphonist Tomás Luis de Victoria, published by Breitkopf und Härtel, which is to be found in leading musical libraries all over the world, and the four volumes of the Cancionero musical español, published in the final years of his life.

As a composer, Pedrell never achieved the success and recognition enjoyed by some of his disciples and even today his music has not been widely explored and performed. However, Pedrell’s themes and ideas left a clear, easily recognisable imprint on a large number of disciples, including such notable names as composers Enric Granados, Isaac Albéniz, Manuel de Falla, Robert Gerhard and Cristòfor Taltabull, ethno-musicologist and composer Baltasar Samper, musicologist Higini Anglès, the singer Conxita Badia, composer and pianist Maria Carratalà and the founders of l’Orfeó Català, Lluís Millet and Amadeu Vives.

Yet, beyond the impact he had on the numerous musicians who passed through his studio, his publications were very influential in his time and still are today. Pedrell could not foresee what the future of music would be, but his intuition led him to tackle many themes that had previously received little attention and are very much part of our current perception of music: these include his work on the Misteri d’Elx and the Cant de la Sibil.la, on sixteenth-century organ music and the polyphonists, the jota in Terres de l’Ebre, musical instruments from all parts of the world, and flamenco.

“L’empremta de Pedrell” goes beyond his influence on his disciples: it is a complex legacy of thematic relationships, dialogue and contrasts, intertextual quotations and links between past and present, for which Pedrell is still a guiding light.

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