“UN CATALÀ MUNDIAL”: CATALAN NATIONALISM AND THE EARLY WORKS OF
Mark E. Perry
Submitted to the graduate degree program in Music and the Graduate Faculty of the University
of Kansas in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Chairperson Dr. Paul Laird
Dr. Roberta Freund Schwartz
Dr. Alicia Levin
Dr. Scott Murphy
Dr. Thomas Volek
Date Defended: August 12, 2013
The Dissertation Committee for Mark E. Perry
certifies that this is the approved version of the following dissertation:
“UN CATALÀ MUNDIAL”: CATALAN NATIONALISM AND THE EARLY WORKS OF
Chairperson Dr. Paul Laird
Date approved: August 12, 2013
The early works of Roberto Gerhard reflect the shifting cultural discourse within Catalan
nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. As a means of fostering cultural
independence from the rest of Spain, Catalan national sentiment gradually switched to the
promotion of modernist ideologies, which were previously rejected in the defense and
preservation of traditional culture. This paradigm shift in Catalan nationalism manifests in the
music of Gerhard. Branded as “un català mundial” (an international Catalan), Gerhard sought to
participate in the greater world of modern music.
While in Switzerland studying commerce, the young Gerhard switched to the study of
music. The events of World War I forced Gerhard, then studying in Germany, to return to Spain.
In Barcelona, Gerhard studied with Felipe Pedrell from 1916 to 1921. Gerhard received his
earliest musical successes with public performances and publication of a number of his works;
however, unconvinced of his abilities, Gerhard traveled to Andalusia in a failed attempt to study
with Manuel de Falla. Seeking out a new musical direction, Gerhard once again left Spain. He
began his studies with Arnold Schoenberg in Vienna in 1923, following his teacher to Berlin.
Gerhard’s first atonal works appeared during this period, applying modernist techniques even
in his overtly Catalan works. In 1929, he returned to Barcelona, and controversy quickly ensued
after an all-Gerhard concert was held to celebrate his homecoming. A debate in the press
following the concert took place between the conservative Lluís Millet, whose works
conventionally incorporated traditional music, and Gerhard, a disciple of Schoenberg—each
arguing for their visions of Catalan music. Gerhard’s works from this period reflect an advanced
synthesis of Catalan elements and modern music. While Gerhard utilized obvious markers of
Catalan national identity (Catalan poetry, traditional music, choral singing, and the sardana),
ultimately, what served to foster a stark contrast with the rest of Spain was the universality of
his works. His musical activities in composition, research, and criticism echoed the shifting
cultural dialogue within Catalonia; however, all was cut short in 1939 as a result of the Spanish
Civil War, forcing Gerhard into exile.
The writing of this dissertation would not have been possible without the assistance and
support of numerous individuals. I would like to begin by thanking my advisor, Paul Laird, for his
numerous readings of the document, his attention to detail, and his encouragement when I
needed it the most. In addition, I want to thank Roberta Freund Schwartz, Alicia Levin, Scott
Murphy, and Thomas Volek for serving on my committee. While conducting fieldwork in
Barcelona on the sardana, Ramon Vilar introduced me to the music of Roberto Gerhard, which
ultimately led to this dissertation. My research in Spain was made possible through a grant
from the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and
Sports and United States Universities. I would like to thank the following institutions: University
of Kansas, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Institut d’Estudis Vallencs, Biblioteca de Catalunya,
Centre de Promoció de la Cultura Popular i Tradicional Catalana, University of Huddersfield, and
Cambridge University. I appreciate the early assistance of Jeremy Wild. I would like to thank
Rosemary Summers for granting access to Gerhard’s materials for my research. I also want to
recognize the current community of Gerhard scholars for their support and friendship: Frank
Harders-Wuthenow, Paloma Ortiz-de-Urbina, Julian White, Carlos Duque, Diego Alonso Tomás,
Leticia Sánchez de Andrés, Trevor Walshaw, Gregorio García-Karman, Michael Russ, Rachel
Mitchell, Samuel Llano, and Monty Adkins. ¡Visca Catalunya!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Catalan Nationalism
Chapter 2: Catalan Culture
Catalan Poetry: Renaixença, Modernisme, & Noucentisme
“Música i poesia” (Music and Poetry)
Arxiu d’etnografia i folklore de Catalunya
Chapter 3: Early Works and Life of Gerhard
Lied [Still! Mitternacht, ein losgelassner Wind] (c. 1913)
Sonatine à Carlos (1914)
Chapter 4: Study with Felipe Pedrell
Andalusia: Federico García Lorca and Manuel de Falla
Trio No. 1 (1916-17)
Verger de les Galanies (1918)
L’infantament meravellós de Schahrazada (1918)
Trio No. 2 (1918)
Dos apunts (1921-22)
Sept hai-kai (1923)
Chapter 5: Study with Arnold Schoenberg
Schoenberg: Vienna & Berlin
Suite for Winds, Strings, and Piano (1927)
String Quartet No. 3 (1927) & Concertino for Strings (1927-28)
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1928)
Wind Quintet (1928)
Sardana I (1928)
Sardana II (1928)
14 Cançons populars catalanes (1928)
Chapter 6: Gerhard in Barcelona
Amics de l’art nou & Compositors independents de Catalunya
Schoenberg in Barcelona
Institute of Catalan Studies & the Biblioteca de Catalunya
I.S.C.M. Festival in Barcelona
L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume (1932)
Madrigal a Sitges (193?)
Llasa mesquina (193?)
Albada, interludi i dansa (1937)
Appendix: Incipits of Gerhard’s Early Works
Prior to the premiere of his first Symphony in 1955—even before immigrating to
England in 1939 following the Republican defeat by the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War—
Roberto Gerhard had already gained international accolades for such works as his overtly
Catalan L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume (The Noble Birth of the Sovereign Lord King James), a
modernist work which won first prize at the 1933 International Society for Contemporary Music
(I.S.C.M.) festival celebrated in Amsterdam.1 Nonetheless, the oeuvre of the Catalan composer
predating the close of the war remains among the least appreciated body of his works by
musicians, public, and scholars alike due largely to circumstances of war: Gerhard’s initial
musical study was cut short by World War I, the Spanish Civil War forced the composer to flee
from Spain, and British nationalistic sentiments during and immediately after World War II
drastically delayed due recognition of the composer in favor of British-born composers. In the
evaluation of the Catalan-born composer’s total output, the early works of Gerhard reflect the
shifting cultural discourse within Catalan nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century.
As a means of fostering cultural independence from the rest of Spain, Catalan national
sentiment gradually switched to the promotion of modernist ideologies, which were previously
rejected in the defense and preservation of traditional culture. During this period under
investigation, Gerhard was “un català mundial” (an international Catalan), longing to
At the 1933 I.S.C.M. festival, Gerhard earned first prize in the Universal Edition contest. Alban Berg, Ernst Krenek,
and Anton Webern served as judges for the competition.
participate in the greater musical world of the avant-garde.2 His musical activities in
composition, research, and criticism echoed the shifting cultural discourse within Catalonia—
Barcelona in particular—were unfortunately cut short as a result of the Spanish Civil War.
Roberto Gerhard i Ottenwaelder was born on 25 September 1896 in Valls (Catalonia),
Spain to Swiss-born Robert Gerhard and Alsatian-born Maria Ottenwaelder, who operated a
wine business in this small Catalan town. Roberto, the eldest of three siblings, briefly studied
commerce in Switzerland before dedicating himself to music. Carles, the middle child, later
served in the Catalan autonomous administration of the Monastery of Montserrat during the
Spanish Civil War before being exiled to Mexico, and the youngest, Ferran, continued with the
family business in Valls.
Roberto Gerhard’s earliest musical studies in Switzerland and Germany were
interrupted by the outbreak of World War I—foreshadowing the impact of subsequent
European conflicts upon the life and career of the Catalan composer. Returning to Spain in
1914, Gerhard began his study of composition in 1916 with Felipe Pedrell, an influential Catalan
composer, scholar and teacher. In addition to composition, Gerhard studied piano with Enrique
Granados, and eventually with Frank Marshall after Granados’ premature death when the
Germans torpedoed the passenger ship Sussex.3 In 1916, Gerhard also began his participation in
the folk music collecting activities of the Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya, an early
ethnographic archive of Catalonia. At the beginning of the 1920s, secluded in his hometown of
Valls and frustrated with his musical development, Gerhard was eventually accepted as a pupil
Rossend Llates, “Un catala mundial: Robert Gerhard,” Mirador, June 22, 1933, 5. “Un catala mundial: Robert
Gerhard” served as Llates’s headline in the 22 June 1933 Mirador article announcing news of Gerhard’s I.S.C.M.
award for his L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume.
The Catalan pianist Frank Marshall (1883-1959) replaced Granados as the director of the piano academy, later
renamed the Académia Frank Marshall, and maintained a distinct Catalan school of piano playing.
by Arnold Schoenberg and studied with the Viennese master from 1923 to 1928, in both Vienna
Controversy over Gerhard’s modern music erupted following the return of the young
Catalan composer to Barcelona after his study with Schoenberg and an all-Gerhard concert at
the Palau de la Música Catalana in 1929. On 27 April 1930, Gerhard married Austrian Poldi
Feichtegger, settling in Barcelona. Active in nearly all aspects of musical life in the Catalan
capital, Gerhard continued to compose as well as write about music. From 1930 to 1936,
Gerhard wrote for the Mirador, a periodical that promoted the avant-garde in the arts. The
multi-lingual Gerhard also translated numerous German music textbooks into Spanish during
the period. In the music section of the Institute of Catalan Studies, Gerhard edited the music of
eighteenth-century Catalan composers. In addition, Gerhard participated in the development of
the Escola Normal, becoming a member of its music board. Alongside painter Joan Miró,
architect Josep Lluís Sert, and arts promoter Joan Prats i Vallès, Gerhard established the Amics
de l’Art Nou (A.D.L.A.N.), promoting Catalan avant-garde art. In the dissemination and
appreciation of music, the Catalan composer was active in the Club Discòfils-Associació pro
Música (Friends of Music Recordings Club) and the Associació Íntima de Concerts (Intimate
Concert Association). Gerhard, along with Pau Casals, brought Schoenberg to Catalonia for
multiple performances of the Viennese master’s music in 1925. Later, in 1931, the former
student arranged an extended stay in Barcelona for Schoenberg, who was ill. Gerhard further
helped introduce modern music to the Catalan public with the ISCM festival held in Barcelona in
In 1939, with the end of the Spanish Civil War, Gerhard’s political and cultural ties with
the Republicans forced him to leave Spain. Briefly exiled in France, he ultimately settled in
Cambridge, England through the generosity of the musicologist and Cambridge professor,
Edward Dent. As mentioned previously, Gerhard’s reputation as a composer in Britain
developed slowly because of British nationalistic sentiments during and immediately after
World War II, which prompted institutions such as the BBC and London orchestras to put much
of their energy into the promotion of native composers, culminating in the Festival of Britain
(1951). But a return to prosperity in the late 1950s brought with it a more international
outlook. Gerhard’s presence in Britain and readiness to assume British nationality were
properly appreciated starting in the late 1950s.
In the September issue of The Score, celebrating Gerhard’s sixtieth birthday, William
Glock opened the periodical with remarks that lamented the British reception of Gerhard’s
For whatever reasons, his works have been almost entirely ignored, with the result that
twentieth-century music has been robbed of the impact of one of its most vital
representatives…only four, comparatively minor, works of Roberto Gerhard have ever
been printed…many first performances have also been the last; and that, as far as
England is concerned, only two or three of his major works have ever been heard in
public. Nor does he receive any consideration in critical writings on contemporary
Observing that the music of Gerhard did not belong to the Franco-Hispanic style, Glock partially
explained the grounds for the difficulties of the British public, claiming that Gerhard “refuses to
fit into any convenient category; for even his Spanish qualities are not of the familiar kind.” 5
William Glock, “Comment,” The Score 17 (September 1956): 5.
Eventually, his reputation reached the point where Cambridge University felt proud of having
welcomed and nurtured him, and he was belatedly awarded an honorary doctorate in 1968.
Late in his career, Gerhard once again received international recognition, accepting
commissions from the Koussevitzky Foundation, Fromm Foundation, Cheltenham Festival, and
the BBC. He taught summer school at Dartington, England; however, his teaching of
composition was largely restricted to his previous Catalan student Joaquim Homs in Barcelona
and brief periods in the United States as visiting professor at the University of Michigan (1960)
and Tanglewood (1962). Composing throughout his adult life, Gerhard had planned to begin his
third string quartet shortly before his death in Cambridge on 5 January 1970. 6
Scholarship on Gerhard lagged behind the achievements of the composer. In 1956
Gerhard turned sixty, and within the September issue of the aforementioned British journal The
Score, authors directed their attention to the Catalan-born composer, in tribute to the aging
composer. With the exception of an article by Roger Sessions, all contributors in the September
issue dedicated their efforts on discussing the composer and his music, representing the first
scholarship, albeit superficial, on Gerhard, with nearly all the articles lamenting Gerhard’s
currently limited status as a composer.
In addition to Capriccio from his string quartet, as well as the piano sketches Dos apunts,
Gerhard contributed an article on his perspective of the developments in twelve-tone
technique. David Drew supplied a catalog of Gerhard’s works. In solely two pages, Donald
Mitchell provided observations on four songs from Gerhard’s Fourteen Catalan Songs,
deploring that at that period many of the songs remained unpublished. Norman Del Mar
David Drew, “Obituary,” The Musical Times 111 (1970): 308.
examined Gerhard’s orchestral works Don Quixote (1940), Homenaje a Pedrell (1941), and the
Violin Concerto (1942-45). Bemoaning the fact that Gerhard’s only opera, La Dueña (1945-47),
remained unstaged at that time, John Gardner presented a concise introduction to the opera.
In Roman Vlad’s article, he confessed to never have heard or read any of Gerhard’s
music until participating in the Dartington Summer School of Music in 1956, which Vlad
[he] had unfortunately not heard a single note; nor had the possibility of reading over
any of his compositions. As a composer he was practically unknown to me; and I must
add that my own ignorance reflects only too well, shame to say, the position his work
occupies in the general picture of contemporary music.7
At Dartington, Vlad had the opportunity to listen to a tape recording of Gerhard’s recent
symphony, as well as a live performance of a string quartet.8
The impression made by these two works was such as to convince me that the general
neglect of Roberto Gerhard’s music has nothing whatever to do with its intrinsic
qualities, but is due rather to a combination of unfortunate circumstances and to the
way in which musical life is organized to-day. That music of such overflowing vitality as
Gerhard’s could have remained ignored for so long, while so many futile and
insignificant works are pushed forward, is no doubt a reflexion on the critical standards
which obtain in our present-day musical life.9
Later in the article, Vlad examined the symphony and string quartet, claiming that the music of
Gerhard “seems to erect a bridge between these two abysses of Webern and Berg.”10
As did other contributors to the journal, David Drew mourned that Gerhard and his
music apparently remained without acknowledgment for such a great period of time in Britain,
Roman Vlad, “My First Impressions of Roberto Gerhard’s Music,” The Score 17 (1956): 27.
To be confronted for the first time by the music of a mature composer who has been in
our midst writing music, virtually without recognition, for the past forty years—this is
likely to strain the most receptive intelligence. What are the cultural, social, musical,
even the political factors that have placed us, and the composer, in this embarrassing
situation? We feel a sense a responsibility, and therefore of disquiet, for this is not a
neglected composer resurrected from another age, a C.P.E. Bach, a Leclair, a Berwald.
He belongs to our time.11
In the article, Drew offered a survey of the composer’s works from Gerhard’s Piano Trio (1918)
to his String Quartet (1956). Concluding the entry with a quotation from Paul Valéry, Drew
argued “‘If anyone says something and doesn’t prove it—he’s an enemy, I cannot prove what I
say: I can only ask that Gerhard’s music be heard.”12
Lastly, English ethnomusicologist Laurence Picken, also a friend of Gerhard, recalled
evenings spent with the composer listening to the non-western music of Japan, China, Turkey,
India, and Indonesia, observing in Gerhard:
The immediate recognition of absolute pitch-values, of non-just intonation, of irregular
(aksak) rhythms; the discrimination of instruments in ensemble; the detection of
components at the limits of the audible range; the identification of formal procedures—
all these things one might have expected from any trained listener.13
However, what surprised Picken most about Gerhard “was the intensity of response; the
degree of participation evinced; the visible signs of emotional possession by this alien music.”14
Picken hypothesized about and attributed the composer’s study with both Schoenberg and
Pedrell to Gerhard’s abilities, concluding that:
[it] is no accident that Roberto Gerhard should enter readily and sympathetically into
these other worlds of music. For an oft-repeated lesson from comparative studies is that
musics everywhere are systems of order, arbitrarily established—however improbable
this conclusion may appear to those familiar with but a single tradition: “there are no
David Drew, “Roberto Gerhard: The Musical Character,” The Score 17 (1956): 39.
Laurence Picken, “Roberto Gerhard Intermittently Observed,” The Score 17 (1956): 53.
systems based on immutable natural laws”. There is, however, another and perhaps a
simpler reason for an innate sympathy; for if his recognition of the arbitrariness of
systems of music is given by his training with Schoenberg, his freedom of entry into and
capacity for sympathetic identification with non-European musics must surely derive
from that other teacher, Pedrell.15
All the articles in the September issue of The Score, except for the aforementioned entry by
Sessions, paid homage as well as lamented Gerhard’s British reception.
In 1973, the ensemble London Sinfonietta performed a series of diverse concerts
devoted primarily to the instrumental and chamber works of Schoenberg and Gerhard. The
Schoenberg/Gerhard series consisted of twenty-six concerts that took place from October 9 to
November 16, performed in London, Carlisle, Dartington Hall, Guildford, Edinburgh, Glasgow,
Brussels, Lancaster, Southampton, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, New Castle, Hull,
Bradford, and Bangor. Initially, the concert series began by programming the works of
Schoenberg. Explaining the basis for the pairing of Schoenberg with Gerhard, David Atherton
Roberto Gerhard was chosen for a variety of reasons. He was himself a pupil of
Schoenberg and, like the master, has never been a fashionable composer. Indeed until
the last few years of his life he was desperately neglected, most of his works remaining
little known. Audiences, like players, usually react strongly and warmly to his music,
which is normally grateful to perform and requires a high degree of individual virtuosity,
a characteristic that makes him a natural for the Sinfonietta.16
Edited by Atherton, detailed program notes accompanied the concert series, which included a
catalog of Gerhard’s works.17 In addition to the two essays by Gerhard, “England, Spring 1945”
and “Developments in Twelve-tone Technique,” the program included a chronology by David
David Atherton, ed., The London Sinfonietta: Schoenberg/Gerhard Series (London: Sinfonietta Productions
Limited, 1973), 4.
Drew, writings on Gerhard and his works by Ateş Orga, an essay on Gerhard’s second string
quartet by Keith Potter, and reminiscences of Gerhard at Cambridge University by Sydney
In 1981, another British journal dedicated an entire issue to the music of Gerhard. David
Drew and Calum MacDonald edited the December Tempo issue, dealing with both the early and
late works of the composer. Peter Paul Nash provided a concise chronology of Gerhard’s life
and works.18 Nash also contributed an article on the 1928 Wind Quintet.19 Geoffrey J. Walker
addressed the text of Gerhard’s cantata L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume and Drew succinctly
dealt with the music of the cantata.20 MacDonald presented the complex history of Soirées de
The other entries in the December issue addressed Gerhard’s late works. Susan
Bradshaw examined Gerhard’s second symphony Metamorphoses.22 Film director Lindsay
Anderson provided recollections of working with Gerhard on the film This Sporting Life.23 Hugh
Davies examined Gerhard’s work in electronic music, including in the article a list of electronic
compositions from 1954 to 1964.24 Misha Donat surveyed the late works of Gerhard.25 On the
late works the author reflected that “[t]here can have been few composers of unmistakable
Peter Paul Nash, “Roberto Gerhard: A Survey Chronology.” Tempo 139 (1981): 3-4.
Geoffrey J. Walker and David Drew, “Gerhard’s Cantata.” Tempo 139 (1981): 12-18.
Calum MacDonald, “‘Soirées de Barcelone’: A Preliminary Report.” Tempo 139 (1981): 19-26.
Susan Bradshaw, “Symphony No. 2/Metamorphoses: the Compositional Background.” Tempo 139 (1981): 28-32.
Lindsay Anderson, “‘This Sporting Life’.” Tempo 139 (1981): 33-34.
Hugh Davies, “The Electronic Music.” Tempo 139 (1981): 35-38.
Misha Donat, “Thoughts on the Late Works.” Tempo 139 (1981): 39-43.
greatness who achieved recognition so late in life as Roberto Gerhard.”26 Comparing Gerhard to
Leoš Janáček, Donat expressed an appreciation for the late works of Gerhard:
Today, if Gerhard’s true stature has still to be appreciated he can no longer be described
as a neglected composer. Yet even now he is known almost exclusively for the music he
wrote during his final decade. For in the 1960’s, as if stimulated by his belated acclaim,
the composer enjoyed a flood of creative activity, producing an extended series of
works all of which display an extraordinarily unflagging energy and invention. Like a few
great composers before him (one thinks particularly of Janáček, whose late music shows
a similar exuberance), Gerhard wrote his most youthful music when already well past
the age of sixty.27
To-date, only a single biography of Gerhard has been published, authored by Gerhard’s
only Catalan composition pupil, Joaquim Homs i Oller, appearing in print in three languages so
far—Spanish, Catalan, and English.28 Appearing first in Spanish, Robert Gerhard y su obra
includes two previously published articles by Gerhard, Música y poesía (1935) and Musa y
música, hoy (1962), a catalog of works, and discography.29 In 1991, the Biblioteca de Catalunya
published a revised version in Catalan and included twelve of Gerhard’s articles from the
Mirador.30 An abridged version of the Catalan biography was included in the book series Gent
Nostra in 1992.31 Meirion Bowen edited the English version of the biography. He included an
English translation of the 1923 letter written from Gerhard to Schoenberg, translations of
posthumously published memoirs of Gerhard, and two tributes by former students Jan Bach
and Roger Reynolds. Of the four editions, the Catalan edition published by the Biblioteca de
Catalunya serves as the most authoritative biography for its thoroughness.
Joaquim Homs, Robert Gerhard y su obra (Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo, 1987); Joaquim Homs, Robert Gerhard
i la seva obra (Barcelona: Biblioteca de Catalunya, 1991); Joaquim Homs, Gerhard. Vol. 92, Gent Nostra (Barcelona:
Labor, 1992). Joaquim Homs, Robert Gerhard and His Music. (Sheffield: Anglo-Catalan Society, 2000).
Homs, Joaquim. Robert Gerhard y su obra. (Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo, 1987).
Joaquim Homs, Robert Gerhard i la seva obra (Barcelona: Biblioteca de Catalunya, 1991).
Joaquim Homs, Gerhard. Vol. 92, Gent Nostra (Barcelona: Labor, 1992).
The centenary of Gerhard’s birth led to a renewed and growing interest in the composer
in Catalonia with the publication of Centenari Robert Gerhard, (1896-1996), a collection of
essays, bibliography, and catalog of works.32 Furthermore, the cataloging and archival work of
collections associated with the Catalan-born composer took place in both Valls, Spain and
Cambridge, England. Joana Crespí documented her work at the Fondo musical Robert Gerhard
del Institut d’Estudis Vallencs for the Boletín de Asociación Española de Documentación
Musical.33 Concerning manuscripts housed at Cambridge University, Margarida Estanyol
provided guidance to the collection and supplies a bibliography of writings about the
In 2000, Meirion Bowen assembled a collection of Gerhard’s previously published
writings.35 However, the book contains inaccuracies, includes only a fragment of Gerhard’s
English and Catalan writings, and unfortunately does not include the original Catalan text.
Bowen topically organized the collection, often choosing writings that dealt with other
composers, rather than Gerhard. Errors also take place in the list of works.
With the exception of Richard Peter Paine’s dissertation, which surveyed Catalan music
of the twentieth century, nearly all of the master’s theses and doctoral dissertations concerning
Gerhard have focused on his late period, that is to say, his “English period.”36 Erroneously
Lluís Millet, Marta Muntada i Torrellas, and Margarida Estayol i Ullate, Centenari Robert Gerhard, (1896-1996)
(Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya, 1996).
Joana Crespí, “El fondo musical Robert Gerhard del ‘Institut d’Estudis Vallencs,’” Boletin de AEDOM (1996): 5-19.
Margarida Estanyol, “El fondo de manuscritos no musicales de Robert Gerhard en la biblioteca de la Universidad
de Cambridge,” Boletin de AEDOM (1996): 20-48.
Meirion Bowen, ed. Gerhard on Music: Selected Writing (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000).
Richard Peter Paine, “Hispanic Traditions in Twentieth Century Catalan Music with Particular Reference to
Gerhard, Mompou and Montsalvatage” (Ph.D. diss., Lancaster University, 1986); Richard Paine, Hispanic Traditions
in Twentieth-Century Catalan Music: With Particular Reference to Gerhard, Mompou and Montsalvatage (New
York: Garland, 1989).
referenced as a dissertation in nearly all bibliographies—including second edition of The New
Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, and
Diccionario de la música Española e Hispanoamericana—Keith Potter’s “The Life and Works of
Roberto Gerhard” is not a dissertation, but instead a bachelor’s thesis.37
Structured in two parts, the following dissertation deals with the historical and cultural
context of Catalan nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century—providing insight into
the musical world of the Catalan composer—and ultimately, examines closely the early works
of Roberto Gerhard. In the opening section, topics approached include Catalan nationalism,
Catalan poetry, Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya, the Orfeonic choral movement, and
the sardana. Following the contextual sections dealing with Catalan nationalism, the rest of the
dissertation concentrates on the life and works of Gerhard up until his forced exile in 1939—
examining his early oeuvre within a measured shifting cultural paradigm inside Catalonia that
embraced modernist ideologies as a means of fostering cultural independence.
In translating, one encounters the dilemma of traduttore traditore—one can be true to
the word or to its meaning, but not both. Except for the 1923 letter to Schoenberg, all
translations in the dissertation are mine, and I have attempted to keep them as closely as
possible to the original meaning and intent of the original text. In addition, I have included the
diplomatic transcriptions of the translated texts whenever possible. I have included in the
appendix incipits of Gerhard’s early works to serve as a reference.
For the purpose of uniformity, I employ the Spanish variant of the Catalan-born
composer’s name Roberto Gerhard throughout the dissertation instead of the Catalan Robert
Keith Potter, “The Life and Works of Roberto Gerhard” (Bachelor’s thesis, University of Birmingham, 1972).
Gerhard. Before his exile to England, the name of the composer appeared in publications under
both spellings, however, primarily in Catalan. Choosing the Castilian over the Catalan spelling
was not an easy decision to reconcile; however, Gerhard scholarship in the English language has
adopted “Roberto” as the standard appellation.
CHAPTER 1: CATALAN NATIONALISM, 1868-1939
Cada any la natura ens dóna una imatge viva del que és el renaixemnt d’un
poble. Cada any l’hivern estronca la circulació de la vida, deixa nues de verdor les
branques, cobreix la terra de neus i de gebrades…Després el sol allarga el dies i
entebiona l’aire; reculen les neus als bacs de les altes serres, l’oreig gronxa els
sembrats i les branques grosses, a punt de brotonar; creix l’esclat de moviment,
de vibració, d’activitat per tota la natura; i les seves innombrables remors canten
altra vegada l’himne etern a la vida renovada.1
Every year nature offers us a living image of the rebirth of the nation. Every year
winter dries up the cycle of life, leaving bud scars on branches, and covering the
frozen land with snow… After the days of sunlight grow longer and warm the air;
the snow melts from the north facing slope of the high mountains, the breeze
moves to and fro the seeds and thick branches, ready to bud; an explosion of
movement and vibration of activity throughout nature increases; and among the
innumerable rumbling sing again the eternal hymn of renewed life.
Enric Prat de la Riba
To understand the circumstances and context in which Roberto Gerhard composed his
early works, it is imperative to first examine the history of Catalan nationalism—culminating
with an upsurge in Catalan national sentiment at the beginning of the twentieth century. The
unification of the two historic kingdoms of Aragon and Castile in 1479 led to a unified Spanish
state; however, it never resulted in a cohesive realm. During the succeeding reign of the
Hapsburg dynasty, the historic constitutional pluralism of the Spanish kingdoms remained
Enric Prat de la Riba, La nacionalitat catalana (Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1978), 15.
relatively unaltered. Interests within Catalonia, in contrast to the rest of Spain, focused
primarily on its local affairs for the duration of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
However, with the victory of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty after the Spanish Succession War of
1702-1715, the previously isolationistic Catalans gradually consolidated powers with the
Spanish state, participating in the wide-ranging affairs of Spain. Except for a small minority,
most Catalans in the eighteenth century recognized the advantages of supporting the Spanish
crown, continuing until a renewed interest in the preservation of a Catalan identity and politics
in the late nineteenth century.
Along with the Basque country, the Catalan elite at the turn of the nineteenth century
devoted their efforts to advancing both commerce and industry, bringing about a new
bourgeois social class in Spain. The Catalan middle class, receiving support through high
protective tariffs, aligned with the Spanish liberal elite. However, in Catalonia at the beginning
of the nineteenth century, disputes took place over the divergent interests of Catalan towns
and the new Catalan middle class. The latter supported centralization of political and
administrative powers while towns sought local provincial administrative autonomy. In
addition, a cultural movement developed with a revival of Catalan literature known as the
Renaixença. While Catalan was widespread as a domestic language, Castilian served almost as
the exclusive language of both politics and literature. The Renaixença movement attempted to
recover Catalan as a literary language; however, authors often employed an archaic version of
Catalan in their poetry, and ultimately these works were relatively unknown among the Catalan
society, except for a minute elite.2 Eventually as the long process of cultural revival increased in
the late nineteenth century, the Renaixença gained further popularity throughout Catalonia.
The revolution of 1868, known as the La gloriosa (the glorious), led to the
dethronement of Queen Isabel II as well as the beginning of a new era for the history of modern
Spain: with the sexenio (1868-1874), a period of six years of a constitutional monarchy
abundant with clashes and demands between the classes, regions, and political parties of Spain.
Emerging from the period, modern Catalan nationalism ascended from Catalan federal
republicans; however, Catalan federalists never sought independence during the sexenio.3 In
the elections of 1869, Federal Republicanism secured a majority in Catalonia, while only
attaining a minority in the rest of Spain, an early sign of a distinctive Catalan collective identity.4
The equally ill-fated First Spanish Republic (1873-74) followed the short reign of King Amadeo I,
who abdicated in 1873. The republic never developed into a federal system with seventeen
states as advocated by many Catalan federalists.5
With the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1874, the central government gained
strength; however, the Catalan bourgeoisie in the Spanish parliament tempered the impact of
the central government upon Catalonia, protecting regional interests.6 Furthermore,
organizations within Catalonia emerged that advocated for Catalan autonomy. Federalist
Valentí Almirall (1841-1904) led the transition from a Spanish federalism to regionalism
(Catalan nationalism). Initially, Almirall advocated a federalism that granted the former Crown
Stanley Payne, “Catalan and Basque Nationalism,” Journal of Contemporary History 6 (1971): 18.
Albert Bacells, Catalan Nationalism: Past and Present (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996), 29.
Ibid., 28. He argues that the Basque Country sought independence from Spain and “adherence” to tradition while
in Catalonia sought federalism and secularism and capitalism.
of Aragon political and administrative powers. His other activities included the publishing of the
newspaper El Estado Catalán from 1869 to 1873, and later in 1880 the establishing of the first
daily newspaper in Catalan, El Diari Català. In an effort to connect the Renaixença with
federalist politics, Almirall from 1874 to 1879 directed the cultural association La jove
Catalunya. Following the restoration of the reign of Alfonso XII, Almirall promoted through El
Diari Català a system of Catalan nationalism, which advocated the federation of the four
Catalan provinces and administrative autonomy. In 1880, Almirall convened the first Catalanist
Congress, eventually leading to a commission to protect Catalan civil law, an academy to
standardize the Catalan language, and support for Catalanist organizations. He addressed later
the issue of civil liberties, using France and the United States as models, in his major work Lo
catalanisme (1886), and attempted to articulate his stance on Catalan regionalism.
In 1891, the Lliga de Catalunya joined together with conservatives, forming the Unió
Catalanista. During this period, politicians repeatedly employed the term “nationalist” in
reference to autonomist Catalan regionalism.7 The following year at the second annual
assembly, the Unió Catalanista drafted a document known as the Bases de Manresa, which
proposed Catalan as the official language, advocated that public office be restricted to Catalans,
argued for public order to be under the control of the Catalan government, demanded for the
Payne, 21. I apply the term “nation” as defined by Benedict Anderson: “an imagined political community—and
imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.” (Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities [London: Verso,
1983], 6). I employ the term “state” as designated by Ernest Gellner: “that agency within society which possesses
the monopoly of legitimate violence.” (Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism [Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
1983], 3). On the concept of nationalism, Geller states that “Nationalism is primarily a political principle, which
holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent.” and further explains that “Nationalism as a
sentiment, or as a movement, can best be defined in terms of this principle. Nationalist sentiment is the feeling of
anger aroused by the violation of the principle, or the feeling of satisfaction aroused by its fulfillment. A nationalist
movement is one actuated by a sentiment of this kind.”
management of finances and taxation, advocated the definiteness of decisions by the Catalan
high court, and proposed the replacement of obligatory with voluntary military service—all
reforms that never became realized. Emerging from Unió Catalanista, Enric Prat de la Riba
articulated an arising Catalan national sentiment in his book La nacionalitat (1906). According
to Prat de la Riba, Spain was a modern political state; however, Catalonia was historically a
nation, writing that “We see that Catalonia had a language, a law, an art of its own, that it had a
national spirit, a national character, a national thought; Catalonia was therefore a nation.”8 In
place of proposing separatism, Prat de la Riba sought the restoration of the Generalitat, the
autonomous parliament of Catalonia. In addition, he addressed the need to preserve Catalan
cultural and social values. However, the Catalan upper middle class remained with the twoparty Spanish system, which persisted until 1898 and the conclusion of the Spanish-American
War. Catalan nationalism gained more support from the Catalan upper middle class in the
aftermath of the Spanish defeat. The loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines essentially
further unified Catalan society, as the national interests of the Spanish state no longer aligned
with the economic plans of the Catalan bourgeoisie. Simultaneously, Catalan nationalists
monitored other European nationalist movements to reveal to their cynics that Catalan
nationalism was not an aberration or a form of nostalgia, but instead a European movement
that recognized the rights of small nations historically eclipsed in the formation of modern
Prat de la Riba, 49. “vèiem que Catalunya tenia llengua, Dret, art propis; que tenia un esperit nacional, un
character nacional, un pensament nacional; Catalunya era, doncs, una nació.”
During the early twentieth century, Catalonia rose in prominence within Spanish politics.
In population, Barcelona rivaled Madrid, and the Catalan capital also led in domestic and
international trade.10 Moreover, the arts flourished in Barcelona during the period. At the turn
of the nineteenth century, Catalan national sentiment revolved around invented traditions (i.e.
Jocs Florals, singing folk songs, and dancing of the sardana); at the beginning of the twentieth
century, in addition to traditional culture, many Catalans also embraced ideologies of
modernism as a means of fostering cultural independence from the rest of Spain. Unlike other
regions of the country, large sectors of Catalans embraced the modernist movement, severing
their cultural dependence on Spain. Furthermore, a myriad of Catalans sought to become un
català universal (an international Catalan), striving for international participation, principally
European, while integrating components of catalanisme with modernism. Ultimately, Catalan
artists identified themselves with European movements while also making major advancements
in the arts that reached far beyond the borders of Catalonia.
Leaving the Unió Catalanista, Prat de la Riba and other Catalan nationalists formed the
Centre Nacional Català, and during the same period Catalan businessmen backed the Unió
Regionalista. Through both organizations Catalan representation in the cortes (Spanish
parliament) swelled in 1901, challenging the long-standing two-party Spanish system. The
aforementioned groups formed the party Lliga Regionalista, dominating Catalan politics from
1901-1923, and the Lliga Regionalista aligned with Solidaritat Catalana in 1906.
During this period, the popularity of the song Els Segadors (the Reapers) rose as another
symbol of Catalan nationalism. Dating back to the 1640 revolt, Els Segadors also served as a
popular anthem during the 11 September 1714 occupation of Barcelona by the troops of Philip
V. The song gained popularity once again, making allusion to previous historical encroachments
by the Spanish state on Catalan soil.
Furthermore, Catalans formed choral societies, hiking clubs (urban Catalans explored
the countryside of rural Catalonia), sardana organizations, and local national associations as
means to express national sentiment, and the influence of such organizations increased over
In 1911, the leadership of the four Catalan provinces (Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, and
Lleida) set in motion plans for the creation of the Mancomunitat (commonwealth), coming to
fruition on 6 April 1914 with Prat de la Riba elected as president. Standardization of the Catalan
language developed as one of the major accomplishments of the commonwealth, placing
Catalan beyond merely a poetic application to serve also as a written commercial and technical
Achieving self-rule through legislative means with the monarchy of Alfonso XIII,
ultimately failed with the 1923 coup d’état in Spain that led to the dictatorship of Miguel Primo
de Rivera and subsequent anti-Catalan polices. Shortly afterwards, the new powers attempted
to prohibit the use of regional symbols such as the Catalan language and flag. 12 Meanwhile in
exile, Francesc Macià met in Paris in 1925 to plan an insurrection with Ventura Gassol of Estat
Català, Rafael Vidiella of Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, and José Bullejos of the Partido
Comunista Español in conjunction with nationalists from both the Basque and Galician
The Catalan separatist flag, resembling the Cuban flag, included a single star added to the traditional Catalan
movements.13 Ultimately, acts of rebellion such as the planned bombing of the train that held
the Spanish king and Primo de Rivera during a visit to Catalonia or the later attempted invasion
by guerilla fighters failed.14 Importantly, not all Catalan leaders advocated violence as a means
of achieving a Catalan nation; in fact, most Catalans never sought independence.
Facing his own coup d’état, Primo de Rivera resigned in 1930, which led to an eventual
restoration of political rights of Catalan provinces and municipalities; however, the six-year
dictatorship led to residual tensions between Catalonia and the Spanish state. Among Catalans,
the conservatives aligned with the monarchy in opposition to Spanish republicans and
socialists. Ironically, the reign of Alfonso XIII endured throughout the Primo de Rivera
dictatorship, only for the king to leave in exile on 14 April 1931. Historic elections followed the
collapse of the monarchy, leading to the Second Spanish Republic. In place of forming a Catalan
Republic, Francesc Macià compromised and elected to accept autonomy for the region,
applying the name of the historic medieval institution known as the Generalitat to the new
Catalan government and consolidating the government of the four Catalan provinces.
Legitimate self-government later occurred in 1932 with the approval of the Statute of
Autonomy. The statute officially placed the Catalan language at a status equal to that of
Spanish. In addition, the Generalitat held jurisdiction over Catalan civil law and administration
of law and order.15
In 1936 the Second Spanish Republic faced yet another coup d’état that tragically put in
motion a divisive war between Republicans and Nationalists—a civil war that forced Spanish
Carles Gerhard (1889-1976), older brother of composer Roberto Gerhard, held numerous political posts, serving
as member in the Unió Socialista de Catalunya in the Catalan parliament and as comissari (deputy) of the
Genaralitat at the monastery of Montserrat during the Spanish Civil War.
citizens to choose between subjugation and resistance, Republicans electing the latter.
Foreshadowing the Spanish Civil War, fascism had escalated in and around Madrid, agrarian
reforms in Catalonia threatened the interests of the rest of Spain, and both the Catholic Church
and the Spanish military grudgingly played an ever-diminishing role in society. Nevertheless,
one of the primary objectives of those among the military that initiated the Spanish Civil War
was to prevent a perceived Catalan separatism.16 With the eventual collapse of the central
government as a consequence of the civil war, the Generalitat took further control of Catalan
governance—more so than permitted in the 1932 Statute of Autonomy. However, as the
Catalan government assumed additional duties within Catalonia, the overburdened Generalitat
lacked the ability to maintain public order. In December of 1938, Nationalist troops advanced
on Catalonia after the defeat of the Republican army at the Ebro River, shortly thereafter
occupying Tarragona on 15 January 1939. Days later the Catalan government left Barcelona for
Girona, and on 5 Febuary 1939 the Republican government, as well as Catalan national
aspirations, appeared to vanish.
CHAPTER 2: CATALAN CULTURE
In the nineteenth century and twentieth century, elements of Catalan culture (poetry,
traditional music, choral music, and the dancing of the sardana) served as essential traditions
within Catalan nationalism. Catalan poets revived Catalan as a literary language suitable to set
for music, which Roberto Gerhard utilized almost exclusively in his early works. In Catalonia,
Gerhard played a prominent role in the collection and study of traditional Catalan music. Only
one of Gerhard’s early works involved choral music; however, his Cantata would become an
award-winning composition. Lastly, the sardana, a traditional dance, served as both a sonic and
visual symbol of Catalan nationalism, its importance demonstrated by the fact Gerhard
composed two sardanes.
CATALAN POETRY: RENAIXENÇA, MODERNISME, AND NOUCENTISME
“…y no obstant de haver transcorregut tant poch temps, llurs decendents, no
solsament han oblidat tot assó, sino que fins algúns d’ells, ingrates envers llurs
avis, ingrates envers llur patria, se avergonyeixen de que se’ls sorprengue parlant
en catalá, com un criminal á qui atrapan en lo acte.”1
… and notwithstanding the time that has passed, their descendents have not
only forgotten all, but even worse are ungrateful to their forefathers, ungrateful
to their fatherland, and ashamed to be heard speaking Catalan, like a criminal
caught in the act.
Joaquim Rubió i Ors, prologue to Poesías Catalanes
Joaquim Rubió i Ors, Poesías Catalanas (Barcelona: Jaume Jepús y Roviralta, 1888), xiv.
Escolta, Espanya, la veu d’un fill
que et parla en llengua no castellana:
parlo en la llengua que m’ha donat
la terra aspra;
en'questa llengua pocs t’han parlat;
en l’altra, massa.”2
Listen, Spain, the voice of a son
that speaks to you in a language not Castilian:
I speak in a language that was given to me
by the harsh land;
in that language few have spoken to you;
in the other, too many.
Cap vent no mou el bri d'una esperança,
de cada núvol només cau neguit,
el destí s'enfondeix en malaurança,
potser la nit serà cent anys la nit.”3
No wind stirs the least wisp of hope,
from every cloud descends nothing but unrest,
destiny sinks deep into adversity,
perhaps the night will be night for a hundred years.
In his early vocal works, Gerhard almost exclusively utilized Catalan poetry.4 Gerhard set
the poetry of some of the best Catalan poets of the period. In 1935, Gerhard wrote of the
importance of and the relationship between poetry and music.5 In elevating the Catalan
Joan Maragall, Visions i cants (Barcelona: L’avenç, 1900), 75-77.
Josep Carner, El tomb de l’any (Barcelona: Ediciones Proa, 1966), 55-56.
“Verger de les Galanies” (Josep Carner), “L’infantament meravellós de Schahrazada” (Josep Maria López-Picó),
“L’alta naixença del reien Jaume” (Josep Carner), “Madrigal a Sitges” (Josep Carner), “Llassa mesquina” (Pere
Serafi), and “Ventall” (Ventura Gassol).
Robert Gerhard, “Música i poesia,” Quaderns de poesia 2 (1935): 18-22.
language, poetry served a vital role in Catalan nationalism of the nineteenth and twentieth
In Catalonia, the Romantic movement taking place during the nineteenth century
eventually led to the revival of literature in Catalan. The decadència, an episode perceived as a
long decline in Catalan poetry, from the death of the fifteenth century poet Roís de Corella until
the early nineteenth century, preceded this restoration of Catalan as a literary language. Within
the Renaixença, fundamentally a revival of writing reminiscent of medieval Catalan poetry,
poets celebrated rural life and the medieval past and former glory of Catalonia. In the
subsequent movement designated as modernisme, authors shifted the focus of their writing on
poetic content above that of form, and directed their subject matter towards urban life. In
addition, standardization—based on the Barcelona dialect—of modern Catalan occurred during
the period, reflected in the modernisme poetry. Linked with the growing political independence
movement, noucentisme followed and employed colloquial Catalan in poetry. Poets also
emphasized abstract rather than literal depiction of their subject matter in the early twentieth
The Renaixença, deriving its designation from the title of the historic literary journal
Renaixensa, in part sparked the national imagination and led to the revival of Catalan literature,
linking an autonomous culture with use of the Catalan language. The cultural movement of the
late nineteenth century shared the aspirations of the publication of the same name—advancing
the restoration of the Catalan language within the arts. In the decadència, Catalan authors
chose almost exclusively to write in Castilian, reflecting the weakened status of the written
Catalan language, and initially the Catalan literary revival took place almost exclusively in the
composition of poetry. Catalan poets viewed the Catalan language with nostalgia, often
lamenting the interrupted tradition of the Jocs Florals (troubadour poetry competitions).6
Historically, the Jocs Florals originated in literary contests amongst troubadours of the region
during the fourteenth and fifteenth century, and the restoration of the practice in 1859
sponsored by the town council of Barcelona in particular, advanced the Catalan literary
movement. The revival of the Catalan tradition led to amateurish and conventional poetry, but
the Jocs Florals also generated public interest and inspired the next generations of poets.7 At
the beginning of the twentieth century, Prat de la Riba compared the importance of Jocs Florals
with the national dance sardana, another invented tradition, in their ability to express national
The power of the Catalan Jocs Florals is without a doubt that constant communion with
the feeling of an entire nation; it is the life to the absolute air of all the Catalan land; it is
to grow throughout all parts, from city to mountain, from rural towns to large industrial
centers; it is to enter all the Catalans without exception or concession, as if it was an
immense sardana, in which the entire nation sings giving their hands.8
The ode La patria (1833) by Bonaventura Carles Aribau (1798-1862) serves as a
landmark amongst Catalan poetry of the period, and conventionally marks the beginning of the
Renaixença. Active in politics and business, he published only one book of poems—Ensayos
poéticos—in 1817. Aribau briefly served in an official political post as the secretary of the Junta
de Comercio in 1823. He founded and co-edited El Europeo, the first journal of any significance
Arthur Terry, A Companion to Catalan Literature (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2003), 61.
Enric Prat de la Riba, La nació i l’estat (Barcelona: La Magrana, 1987), 48. “La força dels jocs florals catalans és
cabalment aqueixa constant comunió amb el sentiment de tot un poble; és el viure a ple aire de tota la terra
catalana; és el créixer pertot, a ciutat com a muntanya, en les viles pageses com en els grans centres industrials; és
l’entrar-hi tots els catalans sense excepcions ni privilegis com en altra grandiosa sardana, a on tot un poble canta
donant-se les mans.”
in Spain dealing with the subject of Romanticism. Although short-lived, from October 1823 to
April 1824, the Barcelona publication succeeded in advancing cosmopolitan Romantic theories
(revival of medievalism, fantasy above reason, infatuation with nature, and idealization of rural
life) by introducing modern concepts, in particular those emanating from Germany, Italy, and
England. In 1816, he moved to Madrid, and while living in the Spanish capital Aribau
nostalgically penned the celebrated ode. Within the verses of La patria, Aribau evoked the
three central themes of the Renaixença: the geography (nature), history, and language of
Catalonia. Throughout the poem appears symbolic topography of Catalonia such as the
mountain range of Montseny and the hill Montjuic (Hill of the Jews in medieval Catalan) that
overlooks the city of Barcelona, and the Catalan river Llobregat. Written as if in exile, Aribau
never mentioned Spain (Espanya) by name in the poem, instead alluding the “towers of Castile”
in line eighteen. Ultimately, the Catalan poet conflates the geography, family ties, and history in
Adéu-siau, turons, per sempre adéu-siau,
oh serres desiguals que allí en la pàtria mia
dels núvols e del cel de lluny vos distingia
per lo repòs etern, per lo color més blau.
Farewell, mountains, forever farewell,
oh jagged mountains of my fatherland
among clouds and high heaven you standout
for eternal rest, for the color most blue.
Adéu tu, vell Montseny, que, des ton alt palau,
com guarda vigilant, cobert de boira e neu,
guaites per un forat la tomba del jueu
e almig del mar immens la mallorquina nau.
Farewell, ancient Montseny, who, from your high palace
vigilantly guards, covered in fog and snow
watches through a hole the Jewish tomb9
and the Mallorican ship in the middle of the sea.
“la tomba del jueu” refers to Montjuich.
Jo ton superbe front coneixia llavors
com conèixer pogués lo front de mos parents;
coneixia també lo so de tos torrents,
com la veu de ma mare e de mon fill los plors.
I then knew your arrogant coast well
as well as I could know those of my relatives;
I also knew the sound of your torrents,
like the voice of my mother and the weeping of my son.
Mes, arrencat després per fats perseguidors,
ja no conec ni sent com en millors vegades;
així d'arbre migrat a terres apartades
son gust perden los fruits e son perfum les flors.
More so, began after the fate of the persecuted
suddenly I did not identify nor feel as in better times;
thus as a transplanted tree in torn lands
it loses its taste of fruit and perfume of flowers.
¿Què val que m'haja tret una enganyosa sort
a veure de més prop les torres de Castella
si el cant dels trobadors no sona en mon orella
ni desperta en mon pit un generós record?
At what cost has found my misfortune
to see closer the towers of Castile
if the song of troubadours do not sound in my ear
nor wake in my chest a generous memory?
En va a mon dolç país en ales jo em transport
e veig del Llobregat la platja serpentina
que, fora de cantar en llengua llemosina
no em queda més plaer, no tinc altre conhort.
As goes my sweet country I carry with me
and I see the winding banks of the Llobregat
that, except for the singing in Catalan
nothing gives me more pleasure, I have no other comfort.
Plau-me encara parlar la llengua d'aquells savis
que ompliren l'univers de llurs costums e lleis,
la llengua d'aquells forts que acataren los reis,
defengueren llurs drets, venjaren llurs agravis.
It still pleases me to speak the language of those wise men
who filled the universe with their customs and laws,
the language of those strong men who obeyed their kings,
defended their rights, avenged their grievances.
Muira, muira l'ingrat que, al sonar en sos llavis
per estranya regió l'accent natiu, no plora
que al pensar en sos llars no es consum ni s'enyora
ni cull del mur sagrat les lires dels seus avis.
Die, die thankless who, sound in your lips
in strange lands the native accent, do not cry
think about your home, do not consume nor yearn
Nor recover from the sacred wall of the lyre of your
En llemosí sonà lo meu primer vagit
quan del mugró matern la dolça llet bevia;
en llemosí al Senyor pregava cada dia
e càntics llemosins somiava cada nit.
In Catalan sounded my first infant cry
when I drank the sweet milk of my mother’s nipple
in Catalan to God I prayed everyday
and Catalan canticles I dreamt every night.
Si, quan me trobe sol, parl' amb mon esperit,
en llemosí li parl' que llengua altra no sent,
e ma boca llavors, no sap mentir ni ment,
puix surten mes raons del centre de mon pit.
If, when you find me alone, I speak to my spirit
in Catalan I speak to it that no other other language serves
and my mouth, I do not know how to lie nor mentally,
able to provide more reasons from my breast.
Ix doncs per expressar l'afecte més sagrat
que puga d'home en cor gravar la mà del cel,
oh llengua a mos sentits més dolça que la mel,
que em tornes les virtuts de ma innocenta edat.
Well to express the most sacred attachment
that could etch the hand of heaven,
oh language to my feelings as sweet as honey
That returns to me the virtues of innocence
Ix, e crida pel món que mai mon cor ingrat
cessarà de cantar de mon patró la gròria;
e pàssia per ta veu son nom e sa memòria
als propis, als estranys, i a la posteritat.
Ay, and call to the world that my unpleasant heart
never ceases to sing of my patron the glory;
and pass for your voice the name and memory
to one’s own, to foreign, and to posterity.
Joaquim Rubió i Ors (1818-1899), using the pseudonym of Lo Gayter del Llobregat (The
Bagpiper of Llobregat), published a noteworthy collection of Catalan poems. The author exalted
the literary achievements of the medieval past against the present day decline in Catalonia. In
the preface of Poesías (1839), Rubió i Ors conceded that a military imbalance between
Catalonia and the Spanish state existed, arguing, however, that a literary independence was
indeed a possibility:
Catalonia can still aspire to independence: not political independence, because it weighs
so little in comparison to other nations, which can place on the scale, in addition to the
volume of their history, armies of many thousands of men and fleets of hundreds of
ships; however, [Catalans] can aspire to literary [independence], even if the balance of
power does not widen.10
Both Víctor Balaguer (1824-1901) and Manuel Milà i Fontanals (1818-1884), Catalan
historians and poets, contributed poetry that reflected their attachments to Catalan history and
Joaquim Rubió y Ors, Poesías (Barcelona: Estampa da Francisco X Altés y Alábart, 1902), xvi. “Catalunya pot
aspirer encara á la independencia: no á la política, puig pesa molt poch en comparació de las demes nacións, las
quals poden posar en lo plat de la balansa, á més del volúm de llur historia, exêrcits de molts mils de homes y
esquadras de cents de vaixells; mes sí á la literaria, fins á la qual no s’exten ni se pot extendre la politica del
traditions. In contrast, Jacint Verdaguer (1845-1901) won first prize at the 1877 Jocs Florals for
his L’Atlàntida, an epic poem in ten cantos. The poem, involving Hercules, the demise of
Atlantis, Columbus, and the discovery of the New World, placed Verdaguer among the forefront
of Catalan poets of the period. Resembling the chansons de geste of troubadours, his second
epic poem Canigó (1885), depicted a Christian knight within the romantic and fabled past of
Catalonia. The poetry of Verdaguer—his epic poems in particular—established the viability of
Catalan as a modern literary language.11 The Renaixença led to the elevation of the Catalan
language and the construction of a national literature.
In the 1890s, the literary movement, termed modernisme, emerged in Catalonia.
Foreign influences of the movement included Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Friedrich Nietzsche,
Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Leo Tolstoy, and Maurice Maeterlinck.12 Emphasizing the
intuition of the artist, writers within modernisme communicated their personal ideals while
negotiating superficial realities.13 Modernisme in poetry exhibited an intricate reconciliation of
modern European sensibilities with Catalan traditions. However, the movement eschewed the
strict employment of cursory cosmopolitanism for the sake of novelty; rather, poets embraced
modern European aesthetics, taking into account the national traditions and requirements of
Catalan society.14 Within modernisme, poets ignored conventions; instead, they focused on
content and, to a lesser degree, form.15
Joan Ramon Resina, “Modernism in Catalonia,” in The Cambridge History of Spanish Literature, ed. David T. Gies
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 515.
Modernisme served as a liminal moment between the Renaixença and the latter
noucentisme.16 In contrast with works penned during the Renaixença, authors altered the focus
of their works from honoring rural traditions to those of the city. In addition, poets replaced an
identity based on a historical past with a sense of community built upon the modern
conception of the nation.17 During this period, standardization of the Catalan language, based
on the Barcelona dialect, occurred through orthographic reforms of Pompeu Fabra (18681948).
The most influential Catalan poet of the period was Joan Maragall (1860-1911),
publishing his poems in five volumes: Poesies (1895), Visions i cants (1900), Les disperses
(1903), Enllà (1906), and Seqüencies (1911). The writings of Goethe, in particular, served as an
early influence on Maragall. Unlike the poetry of Verdaguer, Maragall avoided the composition
of long poems, choosing instead to thematically link shorter poems.18 His stance on poetry
accentuated the fragmentary quality of poetic ideas and the importance of rhythm in shaping
the content of a poem.19 In Maragall’s poem La sardana, the poet portrayed in four stanzas the
transformation of the Catalan dance from its rural origins to an urban dance that held national
La sardana és la dansa més bella
de totes les danses que es fan i es desfan;
és la mòbil magnífica anella
que amb pausa i amb mida va lenta oscil.lant.
Ja es decanta a l'esquerra i vacil.la
The sardana is the most beautiful dance
of all the dances that one begins and finishes;
it is the magnificent mobile ring
with pause and measure slowly oscillating.
At once one moves to the left and vacillates
ja volta altra volta a la dreta dubtant,
i se'n torna i retorna intranquil.la,
com, mal orientada, l'agulla d'imant.
Fixa's un punt i es detura com ella.
Del contrapunt arrencant-se novella,
de nou va voltant.
La sardana és la dansa més bella
de totes les danses que es fan i es desfan.
now turn after turn to the right unbelieving,
and one returns and restless returns
like a poorly oriented, magnetic needle.
Firm one’s step and stop with it.
With the flute introduction one starts
from new to turn again.
The sardana is the most beautiful dance
of all the dances that one begins and finishes.
Els fadrins, com guerrers que fan via,
ardits la puntegen; les verges no tant;
mes, devots d'una santa harmonia,
tots van els compassos i els passos comptant.
Sacerdots els diríeu d'un culte
que en mística dansa se'n vénen i van
emportats per el símbol oculte
de l'ampla rodona que els va agermanant.
Si el contrapunt el bell ritme li estrella,
para's suspesa de tal meravella.
El ritme tornant,
la sardana és la dansa més bella
de totes les danses que es fan i es desfan.
El botó d'eixa roda, ¿quin era
que amb tal simetria l'anava centrant?
¿Quina mà venjativa i severa
buidava la nina d'aquell ull gegant?
Potser un temps al bell mig s'apilaven
les garbes polsoses del blat rossejant,
i els suats segadors festejaven
la pròdiga Ceres saltant i ballant...
Del contrapunt la vagant cantarella
és estrafeta passada d'ocella
que canta volant:
-La sardana és la dansa més bella
de totes les danses que es fan i es desfan.
The bachelors, like warriors make way
boldly dance; the virgins not so;
more devout of a saint accord,
All follow the beats and counting the passages.
Priests preside over worship
that in mystic dance come and go
bearing a secret symbol
of the wide round that doubles.
If the contrapunt the beautiful rhythm and star,
stops the failure of such amazement.
The rhythm returning,
The sardana is the most beautiful dance
of all the dances that one begins and finishes.
The button of that wheel, who was
that with such symmetry towards the center?
Which vindictive and severe hand
emptied the little girl of that giant eye?
Maybe a time to the beautiful half accumulated
mixing the dusty sheafs of wheat
and the reapers celebrated
the prodigal Ceres jumping and dancing…
Of the contrapunt the roaming sing song quality
change passages of the bird
that sings flying:
-The sardana is the most beautiful dance
of all the dances that one begins and finishes.
No és la dansa lasciva, la innoble,
els uns parells d'altres desaparellant
és la dansa sencera d'un poble
que estima i avança donant-se les mans.
La garlanda suaument es deslliga;
desfent-se, s'eixampla, esvaint-se al voltant,
cada mà, tot deixant a l'amiga,
li sembla prometre que ja hi tornaran.
Ja hi tornaran de parella en parella.
Tota mà Pàtria cabrà en eixa anella,
i els pobles diran:
-La sardana és la dansa més bella
de totes les danses que es fan i es desfan.
It is not a dance lascivious, un-noble,
of which couple split couples
it is the dance of an entire nation
that loves and presses forward giving their hands.
The garland gently unravels;
undoing itself, extends, dispels, to turning,
each hand, all releasing to a friend,
it seems to promise that at once it will return.
Now it will return pairs and pairs.
The whole hand of the Fatherland fits in that ring,
and the people say:
-The sardana is the most beautiful dance
of all the dances that one begins and finishes.
Ultimately, the downfall of modernisme during the years 1899 to 1906 resulted from
sharing commonalities with the political aspirations associated with Catalanisme (Catalan
nationalism), after previously discouraging connections with the political movement.20
Noucentisme, a cultural movement closely linked with the political party Solidaritat Catalana,
embodied the coordinated measures by both intellectuals and Catalan nationalists to create an
autonomous cultural sphere. The goals of the turn of the century movement appeared in Enric
Prat de la Riba’s La Nacionalitat Catalana (1906). Having ties with Catalan nationalism,
individuals associated with noucentisme established both the social and political conditions for
intellectual independence.21 In conjunction with Catalan politicians, noucentistes argued that
the arts required the formation of modern educational and scientific institutions such as
libraries, museums, and the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (Institute for Catalan Studies).22
Noucentistes strove for the restoration of Catalan culture to its original condition through the
establishment of an autonomous cultural sphere. Northern European culture served as the
model in modernisme; however, poets within noucentisme enthusiastically favored
Mediterranean culture.23 From 1906, Eugeni d’Ors, under the pseudonym of Xènius, advanced
the noucentisme movement in the newspaper La Veu de Catalunya. Ors embraced GrecoRoman antiquity, in particular, the manner in which classicism prevailed over nature.24 While
despising modernisme, those in noucentisme nevertheless shared in the belief that intellectuals
served a role in the advancement of Catalan society through the application of modern
Such works as La ciutat d’ivori (1918), Selvatana d’amor (1920), and Ofrena rural (1926)
by Jaume Bofill i Mates (1878-1933), under the pseudonym Guerau de Liost, represented the
stance of the urban-based cultural movement of noucentisme as well as its adoration of nature.
In Fir and Beech, Bofill i Mates in abstract language compares the foliage from the mountain
range of Montseny to the Gothic architecture of the region.
Avets i faigs
Gòtics semblant el faig, l’avet,
puja, segur, l’avet ombriu,
rígid de fulles, d’aire fred,
car és d’un gòtic primitiu.
Fir and Beech
Gothics resembling the beech, the fir tree,
climb, sure, the fir shades,
rigid with leaves, of cold air,
because it is a primitive gothic.
Amb son fullatge trèmul, net,
ben altrament, el faig somriu,
més joguinós que massa dret,
car és d’un gòtic renadiu.
With them are shivering foliage, clean,
on the other hand, the beech smiles,
more a toy than too straight,
because it is a renascent Gothic.
L’avet és gòtic com el faig.
Són les agulles del bagueny
on de la llum es trenca el raig.
The fir is gothic like the beech.
They have dark needles
where the light breaks the ray.
Són les agulles sobiranes
que, en les altures de Montseny,
del vent concerten les campanes.
They have sovereign needles
that, in heights of Montseny,
the wind harmonizes the bells.
Josep Carner, a close friend of Bofill i Mates, developed as the most important Catalan
poet of the new movement. His collection of poetry, Els fruits saborosos (1906), serves as an
exemplary literary example of noucentisme. Writing primarily poetry, he employed cultured as
well as colloquial Catalan in his works. Creating aesthetic distance with his subject matter,
Carner situated circumstances from middle-class existence into the structure of a classical
eclogue.26 The poetry of Carner influenced succeeding Catalan poets such as Josep Maria LopezPico (1886-1959), Marià Manent (1898-1988), and Tomàs Garcés (1901-1992).
“MÚSICA I POESIA” (MUSIC AND POETRY)
Gerhard published in 1935 an insightful essay in the journal Quaderns de poesia on the
obstacles as well as abuses that occur in composers’ setting of poetry.27 Written after already
completing the vocal works that belong to his Catalan period, this essay reveals Gerhard’s
conception of the role of the composer and the relationship between text and music. Evoking
the mythology of the nine goddesses over the arts and sciences, Gerhard reminded readers that
the synthesis of text and music extends beyond immemorial, adding that when text—already
rich in emotional content—combines with music, its imaginative possibilities expand.
Robert Gerhard, “Música i poesia,” Quaderns de poesia 2 (1935): 18-22.
Perhaps even preceding all the Muses, it is clear that the union of words and music is as
ancient as poetry and music themselves. A word dense in emotive content, allied with
an exalted musical expression, to an interval or to a musical motif apt and pleasant for
repetition, implies a whole series of ambiguous routes leading to enchantment and
Additionally, Gerhard’s statement suggests that he advocated the pairing of musical motives
with words of poignant significance.
Writing that the voice was the superior of musical mediums and of the value of a singing
quality within music, he explained: “The idea of vocalization naturally arouses the question of
the human voice itself, the very best musical instrument, and immediately afterwards the idea
of singability, a supreme emblem in an expressive concept of music.”29 On the subject of extramusical imagery and the union of poetry and music, the Catalan composer humorously warned
also of its perils, citing French examples by both Hector Berlioz and poet Paul Valéry:
There exists a disconcerting statement relevant to this matter made by a composer and
a modified interpretation of it by a poet that is worthy to ponder. It is a statement by
Hector Berlioz that appears in the introduction to his The Damnation of Faust. Paul
Valéry has used it as the subject matter for his essay “Introduction to Leonardo da
Vinci’s methods.” Berlioz states: “Someone asks the author why he made his character
travel to Hungary—because he wanted to hear a piece of Hungarian music—the author
confesses frankly. And I would have sent him as far as I could, if I had the slightest
musical reason to do so.”30
Ibid, 19. “És evident que la unió de la paraula amb la música és tan antiga com la poesia i com la música mateixa,
i potser anterior i tot a les Muses. Una paraula densa de contingut emotiu, aliada a una expressió musicalment
exaltada, a un interval o a un motiu musical apte i agradable a la repetició, insinua tota una sèrie de vies obscures
que menen a l’encantació i a la màgia.”
Ibid. “La idea de la vocalitat suscita, naturalment, la qüestió de la veu humana, instrument musical òptim, i tot
seguit la idea de cantabilitat, suprema divisa en un concepte expressiu de la música.”
Ibid., 20. “Existeix una declaració desconcertant d’aquest fet per part d’un músic i una interpretació molt
transposada del mateix fet, per part d’un poeta, que valen la pena d’ésser meditades. És un mot d’Hector Berlioz,
que figura en el preàmbul de la seva “Damnació de Faust”. Paul Valery l’ha pres per tema del seu assaig
“Introducció al mètode de Leonardo da Vinci”. Diu Berlioz: “Hom pregunta a l’autor per què ha fet anar el seu
personatge a Hongria.—Perquè tenia ganes de fer sentir una peça de música hongaresa—l’autor confessa
francament. I l’hauria fet anar allà on hagués calgut, si hagués trobat la menor raó musical de fer-ho.”
Indirectly addressed in Gerhard’s observation is the possibly that a composer might also
haphazardly risk selecting a Catalan subject to hear a piece of Catalan music. Gerhard
contended that often the intentions of a composer coincidently paralleled that of a poem. In
addition, he questioned the degree to which poetry served as the pretext for musical works,
replicating the emotions and imageries of text through music:
To reproduce musically that petite world of feelings and images, that lyrical experience
which is poetry—to bend and adjust one’s own mind upon the alien intentions carried
out in the poem—is surely nothing but a veiled way of giving satisfaction to one’s own
deeply original intention. It is an affective predisposition or a secret plan, not always
conscious—a plan that perhaps is childish or absurd as the majority of the voluntary
operations of the artist. Perhaps deep inside a work, more often than we know, the
desire to make them hear a piece of Hungarian music. It would be convenient to know
as to what point a text is often a pretext.31
According to Gerhard, composers more or less nullified the form and musicality of the work by
poets. Preferring to examine the detrimental affects of music upon poetry, he remarked that:
In the first example from that list, I observe the sacrifice of the autonomous formal and
musical values of the poetic text set to music. The sonorous effects of versification, that
which the poets call the music of the verse itself—that fine music of colored vowels and
consonants; the internal harmonies and chords of the verse; the resonances of the
rhyme; all that sustained melody that the poet knows how to obtain sometimes with
the sensitive accidents of the language, as superior counterpoint to the other more
serious melody which generates the significant and lyrical flow of the verse—the music
of the composer almost invalidates it all.32
Ibid., 20. “Recrear musicalment aquell petit món de sentiment i d’imatges, aquella experiència lírica que és la
poesia—inclinar i ajustar el propi esperit a la intenció aliena i realitzada del poema—no és, segurament, sinó una
manera velada de donar satisfacció a una intenció pròpia, profundament original. És una predisposició afectiva o
un secret designi, no sempre conscient—un designi potser pueril o absurd, com la majoria de les operacions
voluntàries de l’artista. Potser hi ha al fons d’una obra, més sovint del que sabem, les ganes de fer sentir una peça
de música hongaresa. Caldria veure fins a quin punt un text sovint és un pretext.”
Ibid. “A la primera partida d’aquest capitol veig figurar el sacrifici dels valors formals i musicals autònoms del
text poetic posat en música. Els efectes sonors de la versificació, allo que el poetes entenen per la música propia
del vers—aquella fina música de vocals i consonants acolorides; les harmonies i accords interiors del vers; les
resonàncies de la rima; tota aquella melodia sostinguda que el poeta sap obtenir de vegades amb els accidents
Under the craft of the composer, the union of poetry and music results in a new entity—
significantly transformed—with only resonance and articulations of the language surviving. He
When the music gets hold of the verse, it penetrates and deforms it; dilates, contracts,
and multiples its members, imposing on them a new body; all that fine and diminutive
music created before by the verse remains extinguished and faded, while deafened by
the more powerful voice that covers it. Only the preeminent sounds of the language still
emerge from the music in quality of simple inflections of vocal articulation. 33
The composer, according to Gerhard, need not be preoccupied with the misfortunes of the
poet. In the musical setting of poetry, the end ultimately justifies the means:
Here we have a first negative result for poetry: a noticeable loss, from the poet’s point
of view. It is good, surely, that the composer does not think much about it and only
thinks about it a posteriori sometimes. A too clear conscience surely destroys, at the
expense of another, is still problematic and would remove the ingeniousness necessary
for creativity. But, luckily, these are not an artist’s reflections: they are reflections of an
As the point of departure, it is the resourcefulness of the composer and not the poetry on
which an artist relies, Gerhard exclaimed that “The artist, when he saves himself, saves himself
through daring ingenuousness and without contemplation: he goes his own way. And it is
surely both necessary and ill-fated that this is so. In its union with music, poetry loses, even
sensibles del llenguatge, com un contrapunt superior de l’altra melodia més greu que fa la fluència signifícativa i
lírica del vers—la música del músic ho anul·la quasi del tot.”
Ibid., 21. “Quan la música s’apodera del vers, el penetra i el deforma; dilate, contreu i multiplica els seus
membres, com per imposer-los un cos nou: tota aquella música tan fina i diminuta qué el vers feia abans, resta
apagada i fosa, com eixordada per la veu més potent que la cobreix. Només els efectes sonors preeminents del
llenguage emergiran encara de la cantilena musical en qualitat de simple accidents d’articulació vocal.”
Ibid. “Heus aquí un primer resultat negatiu per a la poesia; una pèrdua sensible, des del punt de vista del poeta.
És un bé, segurament, que el músic això no ho vegi gaire, i només hi pensi a posteriori alguna vegada. Una
consciencia massa clara d’un bé cert que destrueix, a profit d’un alter bé encara problemàtic, li llevaria la
ingenuïtat necessària a la creació. Però, per sort, això no són reflexions d’artista: són reflexions d’esteta.”
more, all the autonomous beauty of its formal organization.”35 The text was not entirely
sacrificed; Gerhard observed that in the synthesis of music and poetry, “A text, poetic material,
and a lyrical substance, still retained exactly in that text, but deprived of rhythm and own
number, of that resistant body that the poet carves out in the language and that he loves, with
fairness, as the supreme proof of his creation.”36
Reflecting on the unfavorable effects—from the perspective of the poet—of setting
poetry to music, Gerhard posited that “one could almost ask himself whether it is possible that
a poet could approve of the musical setting of a poem that he loves. That question, naturally,
can only be answered by the poet.”37 After warning of the sacrifices, Gerhard advised that a
poem might maintain its integrity if both the music and poetry share in its expressive essence:
It is difficult to say. Perhaps one could state in this way: if the music, with that plenitude
of life that transports and imposes almost physically on us, arrives to give us the
illusion—which it gives us at times—making us live the same lyrical substance as the
poetic expression, beyond its significant symbols, perhaps that in that case we can
neglect the list of losses, the sacrifices in the formal skills of the poem, like an
unfounded scruple, since in reality the poem stays intact in its independent existence. 38
Ibid. “L’artista, quan se salva, se salva per una ingenuïtat atrevida i sense contemplacions: va a la seva i fa el seu
fet. I és nescessari, segurament, i fatal, que sigui aixi. En la seva unió amb la música, la poesia perd, encara més,
tota la bellesa autònoma de la seva organizació formal.”
Ibid. “Un text, material poètica, i una substància lírica, encara exactament continguda en aquest text, però
despossïda de ritme i nombre propis, d’aquell cos resistant que el poeta esculpeix en el llenguatge i que ell estima,
amb justícia, com la prova suprema del seu de creacio.”
Ibid., 22; “gairebé hom podria preguntar-se se si és possible que el poeta vegi amb bons ulls la composició
musical d’un poema que ell estima. Aquesta pregunta—naturalment—l’hauria de contestar el poeta.”
Ibid. “És difícil de dir. Podria dir-se, potser, d’aquesta manera: si la música, amb aquella plenitud de vida que
transporta i ens imposa gairebé fisicament, arriba a donar-nos la il·lusió—que ens dóna alguna vegada—de fer-nos
viure la mateixa substància lirica de l’expressió poètica, més enllà dels seus símbols significatus, potser en aquest
cas podem negligir el capitol de pèrdues, el sacrifici dels artificis formals del poema, com un escrúpol infundat, puix
que en realitat el poema resta intacte en la seva existència independent.”
As argued by Gerhard, music has the potential to overwhelm poetry; however, second-rate
music is overshadowed by a well-executed poem, concluding his essay by stating “And a
beautiful poem lasts, and mediocre music passes and does not change.”39
ARXIU D’ETNOGRAFIA I FOLKLORE DE CATALUNYA
S’ha fet tard. Quinze anys enrera es veu que tot el país era ple de cançons; avui
són recordades per molts poques persones i dintre cinc anys no’n serà recordada
We are too late. It seems that fifteen years ago the entire country was full of
songs; today only a few people remember them and within five years they will all
have been forgotten.
Higini Anglès and Pere Bohigas
In 1915, Tomàs Carreras i Artau founded the Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya
(Archive of Ethnography and Folklore of Catalonia) for the purpose of conducting ethnographic
research on the collective psychology of Catalans. Receiving funding from the Mancomunitat,
Carreras and his assistant, Josep Batista i Roca, endeavored to surpass the efforts of previous
folklorists and Romantics of the Renaixença by applying scientific procedures to the study and
collection of Catalan culture. In part, the goal of the Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya
was to demonstrate that a distinctive Catalan culture existed, separate from the rest of Spain.
Both scholars and amateurs participated in the anthropological research of the project—major
Ibid. “I un bell poema resta, i una música mediocre passa i no l’atera.”
Lluís Calvo Calvo, “L’Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya i la cançó popular,” in El cançoner popular català,
ed. Josep Massot i Muntaner et al. (Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya, 2005), 48.
figures in Catalan folklore scholarship included Rossend Serra i Pagès, Sebastià Farnés, Aureli
Capmany, and Felipe Pedrell.
The collection and study of folk songs developed as one of the primary activities of the
organization. Carreras selected Gerhard to oversee the section on Catalan folk songs, describing
him as a “young person of solid musical and literary preparation, habitual rambler, and one of
the favorite disciples of master Pedrell.”41 At the outset, the other topics in the Arxiu
d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya included atmospheric phenomena, births, livestock, and
Writing from Valls on 25 June 1916, Gerhard informed Pedrell that he had received an
invitation from Carreras to join the Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya, which Gerhard
accepted after conferring with Pedrell.42 In the letter, Gerhard revealed his anxieties about the
project to his teacher:
I received news from professor T. Carreras i Artau, a circular regarding the organization
of the Folkloric Archive of Catalonia and an invitation for me from the professor to
collaborate with it. I am going to answer it immediately, accepting it with enthusiasm,
however I first must confide in you dear master to suggest to me as to which direction I
should take my efforts because at this moment I am a disoriented boy.43
On 31 July 1916, Gerhard wrote to accept Carreras offer to participate in the activities of the
Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya, and asked for future guidance:
Tomàs Carreras i Artau and Josep Maria Batista i Roca, “Ressenya dels treballs del segon curs: 1916-1917,”
Estudis i materials 2 (1918): 25. “jove de sòlida preparació musical i literària, excursionista d’habitut i un dels
deixebles predilectes del Mtre. Pedrell.”
Roberto Gerhard to Felipe Pedrell, June 25, 1916, Institut d’Estudis Vallencs.
Roberto Gerhard to Felipe Pedrell, July 25, 1916, Bibioteca de Catalunya. “Rebo notícies de T. Carreras i Artau
catedràtic, una circular a proposit de l’organització del Arxiu folk-loric de Catalunya i mia invitació del dil Profesor a
col·laborar-hi. Vaig a contestar-li tot seguit acceptant amb entusiasime per mes que confio del tot en Vosté estimat
Mestre per indicar-me en quina direcció han d’en-caminar se els meus esforços i de quina manera sobre el cual
punt estic un xic desorientat.”
I recently received your most friendly letter and the pamphlet from the Folkloric Archive
of Catalonia which, I enjoyed immensely. I was hindered from answering it as soon as
you would have liked, for which I ask your forgiveness. Our admirable master F. Pedrell
had spoken of the extremely interesting studies that you directed. With his
authorization and encouragement for it, I enthusiastically accept to collaborate in the
musical folkloric section, confiding that you will have the kindness to guide my first
efforts. I will deeply appreciate the suggestions that you would offer me in this direction
and of the movement of the Archive in general.44
Playing an important role, Gerhard prepared the questionnaire on the subject of Catalan
folksongs and organized the transcriptions submitted by correspondents from throughout
Catalonia.45 The Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya distributed a significant number of
the questionnaires to all parts of Catalonia.46 In addition, Gerhard contributed a concise
bibliography of published Catalan folk song research.47
In the Catalan folksong questionnaire Gerhard prepared, he argued for the importance
of collecting both text and music:
It is essential that the folksong should be collected in all of its entirety, so much in the
tune as in the text. The song is inseparable of tune and text: the one cannot be collected
without the other. All the variants of a song—the melody as well as the text—must be
written down without any sacrifice to either.48
Roberto Gerhard to Tomàs Carreras i Artau, July 31, 1916, L’Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya. “Vaig
rebre en son temps la seva amabilisma carta i el fascicle circular de l’Arxiu folkloric de Catalunya qui agraeixo
moltissim. He estat impedit de contester-li tant aviat com jo hauria desitjat, de lo cual li demanó perdò. Nostre
admirable mestre D. F. Pedrell ja m’havia parlat dels interesantíssims estudis que Vosté dirigeix. Amb la seva
autorització i encoratjat per ell, jo accepto amb entusiasme de col·laborar en la secció de Folk-lore musical,
confiant en que Vosté tindrà la bondat de guiar els meus primers esforços. Estimaré moltíssim las indicacions que
Vosté volgui fer-me en aquest sentit i sobre el moviment del Arxiu en general.”
Lluís Calvo Calvo, “L’Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya i la cançó popular,” in El cançoner popular català,
ed. Josep Massot i Muntaner et al. (Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya, 2005), 49.
Ibid. An unknown amount, possibly large, of completed questionnaires were lost due to the Spanish Civil War.
Robert Gerhard, “Contribució a la bibliografia de la cançó popular catalana,” Estudis i materials 2 (1918): 217-24.
Robert Gerhard, “La cançó popular catalana,” Estudis i materials 2 (1918): 165. “És indispensable que la cançó
popular sigui recollida en tota sa integritat, tant en la tonada com la lletra. La cançó és indivisible en tonada i lletra:
l’una no pot ésser recollida seperada de l’altra. Totes les variants d’una canço—així de la melodia com del text—
deuen ésser anotades, sense sacrificar-ne cap.”
Concerning the demanding nature of their task, he instructed that the transcription of folksongs
“should be accomplished in the most rigorous and ethical manner. Under no circumstances
should you correct the villager.”49 Moreover, Gerhard instructed the researchers to document
the Catalan folksongs—music and text—as encountered in the field, directing the transcribers
not interpret, nor correct, nor attempt to reconstruct in the case of encountering
fragments. One should not correct the verses if there are too few or too many syllables.
The words should be written as the villager pronounces, although it becomes
adulterated and does not have significance. The proper word can be indicated at the
Gerhard suggested that the folksong transcriptions serve as an accurate record of the melody
with a faithful placement of the first strophe underneath the tune, placing the other strophes
on the next page.51 Concerning the refrain and text, he instructed the researchers that “[o]ne
should indicate between bar lines the refrain, or that is to say, the melodic part that is repeated
in every strophe. Indicate it in the same manner when copying the text, only so with the first
words of each time, separating the strophes with a space.”52 Continuing with transcription
instructions, he wrote in the questionnaire that “[o]ne should also indicate the general
movement and expression and their possible changes.”53
Ibid. “L’anotació de la tonada i de la lletra deu ésser inspirada en la escrupolositat més rigorosa. Eviti’s el
corretgir al poble sota cap pretext.”
Ibid. “El recercador, davant del fet de la cançó popular, no deu interpreter, ni esmenar, ni tractor de reconstruir
en el cas de trobar-se amb fragments. Els versos no s’han d’esmenar tant si hi manquen síl·labes com si n’hi
sobren. Les paraules s’han d’escriure tal com les pronuncia el poble, encara que siguin adulterades i no tinguin
significant. La paraula correcta pot indicar-se al marge.”
Ibid., 165-66. “La anotació musical ha d’ésser clara i correcta, amb aplicació exacta de la primera estrofa de la
cançó dessota de la tonada.”
Ibid. “Les demes estrofes es copiaràn en una fulla adjunta. Deu indicar-se entre barres la rescobla, tornado o
resposta, o sia la part melòdica que és repetida en cada estrofa. Indicar-ho aiximateix al copier la lletra, tan sols
Gerhard instructed the researchers also to document the day, place, and context of the
folksong.54 According to the instructions, the description of the singer should be kept to only a
concise depiction—with the exception that professional singers be asked for their known
names and instruments used.55 However, on the cultural context of the collected folksongs,
Gerhard requested a variety of information:
All the possible data about the origin of the song; the person that it deals with, when
the villager conserved a clear memory of it; special significance that it could allude;
holiday on which it is sung, gestures and work that commemorate or accompany it;
social position of the people that sing them, when the song continues to belong to the
domain of a certain group or gender; legends and practices that have connections;
photographs of the most typical scenes or climax, always if there is a reason… 56
It is apparent from his instructions that in addition to the accurate transcription of music and
text, documenting the cultural context surrounding the folksong was a vital aspect of the
project of the Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya.
Providing further advice, Gerhard recommended that the investigators should keep
singers apart “so as not to rouse competition.”57 He gave additional reasons for separating
singers, explaining, “it is very possible that in the desire to show off that one or another singer
might want to do it especially well, adulterating the primitive aspect of the song in doing so,” or
that possibly with a “singer—above all when dealing with songs that are not very well
amb les primeres paraules cada vegada, separant les estrofes per un espai. Cal indicar també el movement i
expression generals i llur modificació eventual.”
Ibid. “Localitat i comarca de la recerca: dia i lloc en què s’ha fet.”
Ibid. “Lleugeríssima descripció de la persona que l’ha dictada. Totes les dades possibles sobre l’origen de la
cançó; el personatge que l’ha treat, quan el poble en conservi memoria clara; significació especial que calgui
esmentar; diades en què es canta, gestes i feines que commemora o acompanya; condició social de les persones
que la canten, quan la cançó sigui del domini d’una categoria o d’un sexe determinats; llegendes i pràctiques que
hi van lligades; fotografies de les escenes més típiques o culminants, sempre que hi hagi motiu; si hi han cantaires
professionals, noms amb que són coneguts, instruments que usen, etc., etc.”
remembered or recalled with difficulty—one will hear the influences from the song that they
just heard, producing inevitable similarities.”58 Aware of the individuality of traditional
performance, he explained that “[i]t is indispensable that the tune and the text come from the
mouth of the same person, because two people always sing the same song in different ways.”59
He advocated the importance of accurately documenting both the text and music of folk songs,
noting that “[i]t is difficult enough to apply oneself with the accurateness of the text of the
song; therefore, the tune should not be transcribed by the same person.”60 Gerhard claimed
that the collaboration between two investigators with “the simultaneous collecting of the tune
by one and the text by the other” would save time and lead to more precise folksong
transcriptions.61 In addition, he advised the researchers never to interrupt the singers, and “in
the case of missed transcribed intervals within the music or any word from the text,” he
suggested that “one should not have a fragment of the tune or portion of the text repeated, but
instead have the entire strophe sung.”62 Furthermore, on the subject of the interconnectedness
of text and music, he suggested that “[t]he text should never be dictated in spoken voice,
instead always sung.”63
Ibid. “Per les raons que segueixen, recomanem d’interrogar els cantaires sepradament, evitant posar-los en
presència l’un de l’altre, per tal de no estimular-los a rivalisar. En primer lloc, és molt fàcil que les ganes de lluir-s’hi
portin a l’un o a l’altre a volguer-ho fer ?especialment bé, desnaturalisant, per lo tant, l’aspecte primitiu de la
cançó. En segón lloc, el cantaire—sobre tot tractant-se de cançons que no tingui molt presents i li calgui fer un
esforç per a recordar-les—es sentirà influit per la cançó que acaba d’oir, produint-se reminiscències inevitables.”
Ibid. “És de tot punt indispensable que la tonada i la lletra siguin recollides de boca d’una mateixa persona, per
la raó de que dues persones canten la mateixa cançó sempre de dues maneres diferents. Dificilment pot aplicar-se
amb exacitut la lletra de la cançó, a la tonada que no ha sigut dictada per la mateixa persona.”
Ibid., 167. “Per tal d’estalviar-se temps i d’assolir una major perfecció en la tasca, recomanem la col·laborció
cordial i constant entre dos investigadors encarregats de recollir simultàniament la tonada l’un i la lletra l’altre.”
Ibid. “Aquest procediment serà, a més, una altra garantia d’exactitut. Deu procurer-se no interrompre el
cantaire, i en el cas d’escapar-li intervals al músic o qualque paraula al literat, aconsellem que’s faci repetir no
fragments de tonada o paraules soltes, sinó tota l’estrofa cantada.”
Ibid. “La lletra no deu ésser mai dictada recitant-la, sinó cantada sempre.”
Focusing on the significance of both text and music, the questionnaire prepared by
Gerhard demonstrates his awareness of contemporary European folk music scholarship. No
longer privileging the documentation of text over music, the Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de
Catalunya represented a scientific and holistic approach to the study of culture. Gerhard
emphasized the diplomatic documentation of folk songs, instructing researchers not to tamper
with the dictated folk songs and to insure that outside influences did not take place during their
On 6 October 1922, while involved in the collecting of folksongs in the province of
Girona, in the small village of Gombrèn, Higini Anglès and Pere Bohigas wrote to Carreras of the
urgent task of documenting the traditional music and culture of Catalonia:
We are collecting the last few drops from a spring that is about to run dry. What a
burden for the conscience of those who should have come here years ago to collect
Catalonia’s traditional poetry and music.64
The letter from Anglès and Bohigas reveals the perceived obligation and significance of
documenting Catalan folk songs during this period.
Lluís Calvo Calvo, “L’Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya i la cançó popular,” in El cançoner popular català,
ed. Josep Massot i Muntaner et al. (Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya, 2005), 48. “S’ha fet tard. Quinze anys
enrera es veu que tot el país era ple de cançons; avui són recordades per molts poques persones i dintre cinc anys
no’n serà recordada cap. Estem recollint els últims degotalls d’una aigua a punt d’extingir-se. Quina responsabilitat
pels qui haurien degut anys enrera venir a recollir el folklore poètic i musical català.”
Amb franquesa haig de dir mólt temps he estat dubtant jo si era cosa bona
portar l’ORFEÓ a la capital d’Espanya…Per més que els amics de l’intranzigencia
ens mirin esglaiats amb la barretina caient de nostres caps, els hi haig de dir, ben
amorosament: no tingueu por, companys, que al tornar a Barcelona ens hem
palpat i ens hem trobat més catalans que abans.”65
Frankly, I have to say that I have long been wondering if it was a good thing to
take the Orfeó Català to the capital of Spain… Even though uncompromising
friends looked at us terrifyingly with our [Catalan] berets falling off our heads, I
must say very lovingly: fear not friends, returning to Barcelona we felt and found
ourselves to be more Catalan than before.
For many Catalans, singing in choirs functioned as an essential expression of
nationalism.66 The choral movement that took place at the turn of the twentieth century forged
cohesiveness amongst its participants, galvanized the national aspirations of both singers and
audiences, and served as a vehicle to transmit nation-building ideologies.67 Catalan nationalism
and the Orphéonic movement were inseparable.68 The nineteenth-century French Orphéonic
movement initially served as the model, via the efforts of Josep Anselm Clavé (1824-1874), of
the Catalan choral movement, which ultimately culminated with the establishment of the
eminent choir Orfeó Català, led by Lluís Millet (1867-1941) and Amadeu Vives (1871-1932).69
Lluís Millet, “Als descontents,” in Pel nostre ideal, (J. Horta: Barcelona, 1917), 47.
Joan-Lluís Marfany, La cultura del catalanisme (Barcelona: Empúries, 1995), 307.
Both Lluís Millet and Amadeu Vives were students of Felipe Pedrell. Millet served as the editor of the periodical
Revista Musical Catalana from 1904 to 1936. Vives was best known for his operas, operettas, and zarzuelas. His
opera Euda d’Uriac (1900) utilized a Catalan libretto.
Previously in France, Bocquillon Wilhem established a choral society in 1833, which
gradually developed into the widespread and well-received national institution L’Orphéon. Jane
Fulcher argues that officials of Second-Empire France recognized the political benefits of the
French choral movement:
The Orpheon societies flourished partly because of long established and still vital beliefs,
which were subtly re-interpreted and used by the Empire for its immediate political
gain. Utopian ideas concerning the communal, harmonizing ministration of music, “the
social art,” were re-focused in accordance with the Bonapartist conception of the
democratic, humanitarian state.70
Targeting industrial workers in Second-Empire France, the Orphéon movement strove to
improve the conditions of the working class—making art music accessible and serving as a
symbol of democracy.71
The Catalan choral director Josep Anselm Clavé appeared as a central figure in the
Catalan choral movement. In addition, he was a fiery political figure. Clavé, a Republican, spent
two years in prison for his participation in the 1843 Barcelona uprising. Shortly after leaving
prison in 1845, he established the choir La Aurora, with its membership consisting of industrial
workers and artisans. In part, Clavé attempted to provide the working class an alternative to
drinking at bars, as well as striving to have the choir serve his egalitarian aspirations.72 In 1850,
he formed the choral society La Fraternitat, and in 1857 renamed the ensemble Euterpe, which
led to the creation of 85 other choral associations throughout Catalonia. In an 1864 letter to
Mariano Soriano Fuentes, Clavé revealed his reasons for the establishment of the Euterpe:
Jane F. Fulcher, “The Orphéon Societies: ‘Music for the Workers’ in Second-Empire France,” International Review
of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music 10 (1979): 47-8.
Montserrat Albet, “Arrel i objectius musicals de l’Orfeó Català,” in Orfeó Català (Barcelona: Fundació Jaume I,
the primary purposes of the institution Euterpe, are known to all; to moderate as well as
to train workers, to awaken the dormant soul with a feeling of love and admiration for
all that is great, for everything beautiful; to destroy the root of the vices that brutalize,
corrupt and degrade the inexperienced youth of the countryside and workshops, and to
strengthen the sacred bonds of brotherhood among all social classes. Here is the most
powerful of its means: the cultivation of music.73
During this period, the number of choirs throughout Catalonia proliferated; however, the
musical standards of these choirs lagged far behind other European choirs, which became more
widely apparent during the 1888 World’s Fair in Barcelona.74
Lluís Millet, one of the original founders of the Orfeó Català, recounted how the World’s
Fair impacted his perception of choral music in Catalonia:
Then the 1888 World’s Fair came with competitions for choral societies and bands. Then
we heard the foreign choirs that sang as an ensemble in a manner unfamiliar to us. The
perfect tuning, the natural production and good timbre, balance and blending of the
voices were a revelation that provoked in us a strong desire to create something similar
Millet as well as Vives shared similar aspirations for choral music in Catalonia. Millet recounted
how the musicianship of the foreign choirs at the 1888 World’s Fair influenced him as well as
It resurrected in us a beautiful dream of a Catalan music in which the choir served as the
main instrument, as with Clavé; however, in a new way, making all the magnificence
Ibid. “los fines primordiales de la Institución Euterpe, sabidos son de todos; morigerar e instruir a los obreros,
despertar en su alma aletargada un sentimiento de amor y admiración hacia todo lo grande, hacia todo lo bello;
destruir de raíz el german de los vicios que embrutecen, pervierten y degradan a la inexperta juventud de los
campos y talleres y estrechar los sagrados vínculos de la fraternidad entre todas las clases sociales. He aquí el más
poderoso de sus medios: el cultivo de la música.”
Choral competitions associated with the 1888 World’s Fair took place 15 November 1888, with all the choirs
performing “La Primavera” by Claudi Martínez i Imbert.
Ibid., 46. “Llavors vinguè l’Exposició Universal del 88 amb la seva tanda de concursos d’orfeons i bandas. Llavors
sentírem pels cors forasters que vingueren una manera de cantar en conjunt desconeguda per nosaltres. La justesa
d’afinació, l’emissió natural i ben timbrada, l’equilibri i fusió de les veus, foren una revelació que engendrà en
nosaltres un fort desig de crear quelcom de semblant a casa nostra.”
that we heard appear, that our traditional choirs nonetheless did not achieve, at least
not until the choral archetype—the all-male choirs like those of Clavé—expanded its
wings and became a mixed choir, allowing for the singing of great choral music from the
great geniuses of humanity.76
Millet and Vives established the Orfeó Català on 6 September 1891 and on that same
day, its secretary recorded the organization’s purpose: “For the objective of establishing and
safeguarding an Orfeó well instructed in the art of music, to sing all kinds of choral
compositions perfectly, filling the gap that existed within the Barcelona Philharmonic.”77 The
repertoire of the Orfeó Català consisted of Renaissance polyphonic music and traditional
Catalan music, as well as the repertoire from the canons of Western art music. In 1896, Millet
discovered the sixteenth-century music of Spanish masters through Felipe Pedrell’s Hispaniae
schola musica sacra.78 The foundation of a national music, with traditional Catalan songs
serving as its basis, remained as a primary activity of the Orfeó Català. Catalan traditional music
played a central role in the Orfeó Català. In part, Catalan folksongs served to counter the
perceived Castilianization of Catalan audiences by género chico—a popular genre enjoyed by
many Catalans. 79 Furthermore, the traditional “Els Segadors” functioned as a national anthem,
which the Orfeó Català always sang as its last number at concerts.80 From 1904-1921, the Orfeó
Ibid., 46. “féu néixer en nosaltres el bell somni de l’exaltació de la música catalana tenint per principal
instrument un cor model que cantés Clavé d’una manera nova, fent aparèixer totes aquelles belleses que nosaltres
hi sentíem, però que els nostres cors populars no realitzaven, un cor model que, començant essent d’homes sols
com els que fundà en Clavé, eixamplés després les seves ales i es convertís en cor mixt per arribar a cantar la gran
música coral dels grans genis de la humanitat.”; The Orfeó Català added children in 1895 and women in 1896.
Miquel Coll i Alentorn, 17. “per objecte la creació i conservació d’un orfeó ben instruït en l’art musical, per
cantar amb perfecció tota classe de composicions corals, omplint així el buit que es nota en la filharmònica
Hispaniae schola musica sacra, edited by Felipe Pedrell (Barcelona: J.B. Pujol, 1894-1898).
The melody of “Els Segadors” is traditional in origin; however, the melody received a new text in 1899. The text
by Emili Guanyavents recounts the events that surround the 1640 Corpus de sang, a historical moment when many
Catalans revolted against the Prime Minister of King Philip IV during the Thirty Years War.
Català held competitions for the collection of traditional Catalan melodies and their
harmonization, as well as the creation of new compositions—secular and sacred music, with
the character of older, traditional Catalan music.81
Choral singing in Catalonia functioned as a vital expression of nationalism, which created
a perceived sense of cohesiveness, served to rouse national aspirations, and functioned as a
sonic vehicle to transmit national ideologies through song. With the establishment of the Orfeó
Català, the choral tradition flourished in Barcelona. Ultimately, Catalan nationalism and the
Orphéonic movement became indivisible.
La Sardana és Dansa, Himne, Cançó: és Catalunya.82
The Sardana is Dance, Anthem, Song: it is Catalonia.
… la dansa més pura i més bella, la dels movements més dignes i gentils, la dansa
que és el segell viu i graciós amb cos i esperit de nostre temperament de raça.83
…the most pure and beautiful dance, with the most honorable and elegant
movements, the dance that is the living and graceful symbol with the body and
spirit of our racial disposition.
Albet, 50. This activity led to over 2000 works.
Aureli Capmany, Com es balla la sardana (Barcelona: Salvador Bonavía, 1924), 34.
Com té la seva llengua, com té les seves cançons, com té els seus costumes,
Catalunya té també, a hores d’ara i per a sempre més, la seva dansa pròpia i
representativa, la seva dansa nacional.84
Since it has its language, because it has its songs, because it has its customs,
Catalonia has also from present and forever more, its own and representative
dance, its national dance.
The sardana (pl. sardanes) is a dance and musical genre from Catalonia that developed
into a symbolic national dance during the early twentieth century. In the sardana, groups of
men and women hold hands and form a circle (anella or rotllana) facing its center, and oscillate
from left to right with the two basic dance patterns, curts and llargs, which consist of four and
eight steps, respectively. Musically, the curts and llargs each consist of a distinct musical theme;
the curt, however, is of shorter duration. The dance, which is in duple meter, 2/4 or 6/8, is
accompanied by a cobla, an ensemble of eleven musicians playing a mixture of Catalan and
Western band instruments. The eventual standardized cobla consisted of a flabiol (flute) with
tambori (small drum) played by a single musician, two tibles (double reed), two tenores (double
reed), two trumpets, a trombone with pistons, two larger trumpets, and a three-stringed
Catalan nationalism and the sudden and long-held popularity of the sardana throughout
Catalonia are interrelated. In this instance, the understanding of the role of dance and music in
the nation-building process is best understood as an invented tradition. According to the theory
of invention of tradition, culture is not static; societies go through constant change in which
traditions are revived, reconstructed, or revitalized and the images of the past are often
Joan Llongueres, Per la nostra sardana (Barcelona: Emporium, 1933), 43-4.
understood through the new terms of various agents of the present such as in the case of
nation-building.85 The sardana was merely one regional dance among numerous others that
existed during the nineteenth century until Catalan nationalists selected it for its overt
symbolism and disseminated it as a way of countering the perceived Castilianization of
Catalonia. Folklorist Joan Amades wrote of the sardana: “…among the dances that could
deserve the honor of symbolizing our people, the sardana was chosen.”86 As an invented
tradition, the sardana functioned as a Catalan identity marker through its perceived continuous
connections to a distant Catalan past before Castilian domination, and served also to
distinguish Catalans as being culturally different from the rest of Spain.
The exact date of the creation or development of the modern sardana, sardana llarga,
is unknown, as folklorist Joan Amades admitted: “The gestation period of the sardana llarga
one can never absolutely know.”87 In 1924, the Catalan folklorist Aureli Capmany claimed that
determining the historical origins of the sardana was both an easy and difficult task. He claimed
its history was uncomplicated because one could currently observe the changes occurring in the
dance; however, it was difficult because certain facts were impossible to prove.88 However, lack
A common misconception of the theory of invention of tradition is that this theory implies that some traditions
must therefore be inauthentic. This has led anthropologist Allan Hanson to suggest that perhaps the term
“invention” should be replaced by a less inflammatory term such as “reformulation.” Alan Hanson,
“Postmodernism and the Invention of Tradition,” in Present is Past (Lanham, MD: University Press of America,
1997), 200. According to Eric Hobsbawm, an “invented tradition” is a set of practices that could be literally
invented or that of uncertain origin but became established within a short span of time. Along with practices, there
are conventions and symbolism that through repetition of the practice instill values as well as imply continuity with
the past of a community. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1983), 1.
Joan Amades, La sardana (Barcelona: Biblioteca la Sardana, 1930), 87. “…entre les danses que podien merèixer l’honor
de simbolitzar el nostre poble, fou escollida la Sardana.”
Amades, 57. “El període de gestació de la Sardana llarga no es podrà saber mai d’una manera absoluta.”
Capmany, 7. “Historiar l’origen i la vida de la Sardana, per a tot català que estimi per damunt de totes les coses
Catalunya, és tasca fàcil i dificil alhora. Es fàcil el poder escatir com progressa la seva vida, els adeptes que cada dia
augmenten i la consideració poixanta que va assolint no sols a Catalunya, si que fins a for a d’ella, i això en el
of evidence did not prevent either Capmany or Amades from asserting that the origin of the
dance dated back to Greek antiquity or to ancient societies that mimicked through dance the
circular movements of the heavens.89 A round dance is a widespread form of dance, which is
encountered in most societies and historical periods, and is not unique to Catalonia. There is no
evidence that the modern sardana or it predecessors were continuously danced over large
periods of history; therefore, the decision to make connections to a Hellenic or primitive origin
was a deliberate choice based on a Catalan national agenda.90
The first documented use of the word “sardana” to refer to some form of dancing dates
back to 1552.91 Very little is known, however, about that dance and the modern sardana
perhaps shared only its name. The term sardana did not remain in continuous use, and the
dance was not described in the 1552 document. During the eighteenth century, Amades stated
in his book that nothing was mentioned of the sardana in extant documents.92
An early predecessor of the sardana was the contrapàs, a line dance that had many
forms and variations throughout Catalonia. The contrapàs had in common with the sardana its
dance steps, which moved from left to right. Another predecessor is the sardana curta, a round
dance constructed of two musical sections of fixed number of measures, curts and llargs of
transcurs escàs d’una centúria. Es difícil perquè les dades fins ara conegudes són prou imprecises per poder parlar
amb certitude de com i on va prendre origen i de quina faisó es desplegà a través del temps i de les habituds
humanes arreu, fins arribar a l’estat en què la trobem actualment a Catalunya.”
Capmany, 8. “Es opinion generalment acceptada que l’origen d’aquesta encisadora dansa prove de la Grècia
clàssica i n’es una derivació.” “Altre parer referent al seu origen és la devoció amb què els antics servaven el
movement dels asters i, d’una manera especial, el del Sol, que de Llevant a Ponent, en forma circular, fa
diàriament amb certa regularitat.”
While no author on the history of the sardana of the period under investigation makes a distinction or
connection between Hellenic or the later Moorish influences in Iberia, it is possible that Catalan authors wanted to
make Hellenic connections for Catalonia and infer a connection with Castile and its Moorish past.
Josep Mainar and others, eds., La sardana: el fet musical (Barcelona: Editorial Bruguera, 1970), 19. Amades, 33.
eight and sixteen measures respectively.93 The ensemble, cobles antigues, which accompanied
these dances, consisted of three musicians: bagpipe, tiple, and combination of flabiol and
Many Catalans attributed the creation or revival of the modern sardana to the musician
and composer Josep Maria (Pep) Ventura (1817-1875). Authors ascribe to Ventura the reforms
made to the cobla and the musical structure of the sardana. While prior to Ventura no
standardization of the ensemble existed, the instrumentation continued to be malleable during
In addition to performing in Catalonia, Ventura performed in Catalunya Nord, a Catalan
speaking region in France. Capmany claimed that Ventura met Andreu Turon in 1840, and
Ventura was then introduced to the tenora, an instrument in use by cobles in Rosselló.95
Ventura worked with the French instrument maker Turon in the construction of the Catalan
tenora, which became the most symbolic instrument of the cobla because of its unique sound
quality. Amades claimed that the tenora was much more ancient than both Turon and Ventura:
“It has been said often and written that this instrument [tenora] was invented by a great and
renowned Perpignan musician and instrumentalist, Antoni Turon. This assertion is not correct,
because the instrument is very ancient.”96 However, Amades did attribute to Ventura the
change in status of the instrument from traditional to orchestral: “Pep Ventura had a sizeable
The sardana llarga is also constructed of the same two musical sections, except that the number of measures of
each section varies greatly from one composition to the next.
Capmany, 22-23. “Per allà l’any 1840 anà a Perpinyà, on féu coneixença amb N’Antoni Toron, concertista I
constructor d’instruments de plaça, el qual li mostrà el tenor, instrument que ja figurava en les cobles catalanes del
Rosselló…” In the cobla, there are two tenora players in the ensemble. The tenora is the instrument that most
often plays the melody, which is one of the reasons given for its importance.
Amades, 52. “S’ha dit molt i fins s’ha escrit que aquest instrument l’inventà un gran music i instrumentista
perpinyanenc anomenat Antoni Turon. Aquesta afirmació no és pas justa, puix l’instrument és molt antic.”
part in the elevation of the tenora to the category of orchestral instrument…”97 Joan
Llongueres, musician and former president of the Lliga Sardanística de Catalunya, remarked on
the power and importance of the Catalan instruments, the tenora and tiple:
When the sound of the tenores and tiples vibrate in the air, the hands meet and tighten,
and the magic ring oscillates to the left and right with the grace and majestic
rigorousness that the authentic sardana has, one soon feels that Catalonia is alive, that
Catalonia is strong, that Catalonia has a particular meaning of its own.98
Turon applied clarinet technology to the tenora by placing mechanical keys on the instrument.99
According to Capmany, the Catalan version of the tenora was tuned differently from the
Rosselló instrument, the Catalan instrument in B-flat and the French instrument in C.100
Capmany wrote in his book that a learned citizen of Rosselló stated that the Catalan system was
more logical and therefore the cobles from France were not able to play the same music as the
Assigning the ethnic origin of Pep Ventura was problematic for the agenda of many early
Catalan nationalists. For national reasons the “creator” of the sardana conveniently should be
Catalan; however, Ventura was born in Alcalá la Real, Spain. Capmany expressed the irony of
the birthplace of the musician and composer: “Ironic chance! The man that had saved our
national dance from a sure death, the forerunner to the Catalan national music tradition, was
Amades, 55. “En l’elevació de la tenora a la categoria d’instrument orquestral, el mestre Pep Ventura hi té una
Llongueres, 11-12. “Quan les tenores i els tiples vibren per l’espai i les mans s’ajunten i s’estrenyen i l’anella
màgica oscil·la a esquerra i a dreta, amb aquella gràcia continguda i amb aquella augusta severitat que té la
veritable Sardana, de seguida sentiu que Catalunya és viva, que Catalunya és forta, que Catalunya té una
significació particular ben pròpia.”
Josep Mainar and others, 37.
Ibid. “Segons opinió exposada per un erudit rossellonès, la digitació adaptada pels músics catalans és més lògica
que la usada per ells, puix sávé a la dels instruments semblants. Aquestes diferències ofereixen la dificultat de no
poder tocar les cobles del Roselló i Catalunya la mateixa música, a menys de transporter-la per corregir aquest
born in Andalusian lands.”102 Briefly stationed in Alcalá la Real, Pep Ventura’s father was a
sergeant in the army at the time of his birth. Inconveniently, in Spanish and Catalan society,
birthplace is the primary determinant of national identity.103 The parents of Pep Ventura were
both Catalan, and nationalists ingeniously determined that Ventura was Catalan because he
was conceived in Catalonia.104 Furthermore, he returned to Catalonia months later, Catalan was
his first language, and he lived the rest of his life in Catalonia.
According to Capmany, Ventura traveled among Catalan villages collecting traditional
songs and this inspired his music, explaining why his music was so popular.105 Linking the
Catalan rural landscape with the sardana through Ventura’s assimilation of traditional songs,
Capmany attributed further national importance to the dance and Ventura’s music.
In the sardana or sardana llarga, alternate dancers of men and women hold hands and
form a circle with all dancers facing its center. With the ring assembled, it oscillates from left to
right with the two basic dance patterns, curts and llargs, which consist of four and eight steps,
respectively. In addition to the choreography of the feet, the arms are raised or lowered to
coordinate with the musical sections, lowered during the curts and raised during the llargs.
The curts and llargs each consist of a distinct musical theme, and the curt, as its name
implies, is of shorter duration. The meter of the dance is duple, 2/4 or 6/8, and contains a
characteristic rhythm (see Musical Examples 2.1 and 2.2).
Capmany, 15. “Atzar ironic! L’home que havia de salvar d’una mort certa la nostra dansa nacional, el precursor
de l’escola musical catalana, nasqué en terres andaluses.”
Stanley Brandes suggests that Catalans determine national identity by achieved characteristics rather than
ascribed characteristics as in the case of Spaniards.
Capmany, 17-18. “Ell en ses andades, Durant anys i més anys, pels pobles i masies, recollia les cançons
populars, enfilant-les després amb el fil d’or de la seva inspiració. Per aixó la seva popularitat fou tan
prodigiosa…essent el primer music que instintivament es dedicà a recollir cançons popoulars.”
An important feature of the dance is that it is constructed of two musical sections and that the
number of measures of each section varies greatly from one composition to the next. While
varying numbers of measures among compositions are not unique to the sardana by any
means, to repartir (to dance the final dance movement) correctly dancers must be able to
recognize the musical sections as well as count the exact number of measures of each in order
to conclude the sections properly, making counting a novel attribute of the dance. In a Catalan
proverb, this aspect of the dance is satirized as an aspect of national character: “The Catalans
are such money grubbers that even to dance they count.”106
The importance of being able to count the number of measures (comptar) led to a
variant of the sardana, the sardana revessa. Composers created sardanes that purposely
obfuscated the beginnings or endings of the curts and llargs for the sardana revessa. Antoni
Agramont composed the first sardana revessa to ascertain the skills of two sardanistes who
were in dispute about which had more ability in figuring out the number of measures of a
melodically difficult sardana.107 Not everyone was in favor of the sardana revessa such as
Brandes, 33. “Els Catalans son tan pesseteros que fins i tot per a ballar comptan.”
Amades, 64. “El creador d’aquest tipus melodic de Sardana, dit <<revessa>>, va ésser el mestre Antoni
Agramont, de Castelló d’Empúries. Va composer la primera Sardana d’aquesta mena per a comprovar l’enginy
enigmatic de dos ferms sardanistes que estaven en disputa sobre qui dels dos tenia més traça per treure sardanes
de dificil comprensió melòdica. S’establí juguesca sobre qui dels dos sabria treure la Sardana especialment escrita a
Manuel Capdevila who felt strong emotions against the variant sardana: “… thank God!—one
finds the sardana revessa in frank decline. Prepare us to assist in its burial with an air of
respect. However, one should not express any condolences.”108
The sardana has the following musical structure: introit (flabiol and tamborí
introduction), curt, curt, llarg, llarg, curt, curt, llarg, llarg, contrapunt (brief flabiol and tamborí
introduction), llarg, contrapunt, llarg, and acord final (final chord played by entire ensemble).
According to Capmany, traditionally the melody of the curt was melancholic and sad, and the
llarg was happy and festive.109
Llongueres gave four guidelines for the composition of sardanes. According to him, the
melodies must be in good taste and distinctive.110 The composed sardanes should display an
understanding of the rules of harmony and counterpoint.111 Concerning the musical structure,
the sardana should share the logic as well as being just as solid as any other composition.112
Lastly, the sardana should integrate the “racial spirit” deserving of the “national dance.”113
The sardana, with the exception of the musicians, involved both sexes. It was not a
couples dance, but instead a communal dance with no leaders or followers. Couples did
participate in the ring, and rules existed for those entering to prevent the breaking up of a
couple—one should never enter on the right of a male dancer or on the left of a female
l’efecte i la va treure un dels dos litigants, apotecari de Castelló, famós sardanista de l’epoca.” Capmany, 73.
According to Capmany, the sardana revessa was created by Anton Agramont, a popular composer and director of a
cobla from Castelló.
Manuel Capdevila, De la sardana (Barcelona: Biblioteca La Sardana, 1925), 79. “…gràcies a Déu!—la sardana
revessa es troba en franca decadència. Preparem-nos a assistir al seu enterrament amb un posat tot respectuós.
Que no expressi cap condolence, però.”
dancer.114 Women were more important than men in the sardana, according to Capdevila:
“Both [sexes] are necessary in the sardana. The woman, however, is doubly necessary. [The
sardana] benefits her and benefits the ‘revival’; she at times has so much influence on the
deeds of man!”115 The dancing of sardana, at least in theory, represented equality among
Catalans of both sexes.
Capmany described the sardana as a social activity that accommodated the diversity of
The sardana is a dance that adapts to all ages, sexes, social groups, and characters; it is a
dance appropriate for the main square, it is always open and everyone leads; and it
would be difficult to find homogeneity among the multitude of characters, educational
backgrounds, dispositions, or to approach an absolute uniformity among those who take
part in dancing sardanes; it would be more than difficult, almost impossible.116
The sardana functioned as a public enactment of Catalan solidarity, ignoring all social
differences except ethnic affinities.
Until around 1906, the sardana was regarded only as a regional dance of Empordà and
to a lesser degree La Selva, both rural areas of northern Catalonia, when numerous Catalan
nationalists transformed it into a national dance.117 Around 1840-50, Miquel Pardàs i Roure, of
Torroella de Montgrí, published Método para aprender a bailar las sardanas largas, the first
method book on how to dance the sardana.118 It is around this time that the choreography of
Capdevila, 24. “Ambdós són necessaris en la sardana. La dona, però, ho és doblement. Ens interessa per ella
mateixa i ens interssa de “retruc.” Ibid., 1. “té, devegades, tanta d’influència damunt els actes de l’home!”
Capmany, 82. “La Sardana és una dansa que s’adapta a totes les edats, sexes, estaments i caràcters; és un ball
propiament de plaça, sempre obert, que hi cap tothom; i per això s’ha de dir que difícilment es trobarà en les
multituds homogeneitat de character, d’educació, de temperament, i que cercar uniformitat absoluta entre els
que prenen part en les ballades de sardanes és, més que difícil, quasi impossible.”
Ibid. “Un temps el ball de la sardana era patrimony d’uns quants Catalans.”
Amades, 63. Capmany, 26-7.
the dance became more fixed. Other dance instruction books followed, and the publication of
method books in both Spanish and Catalan permitted the sardana to be learned and
propagated throughout Catalonia within a brief period of time. In a pamphlet written around
1933 by Martí Paloma, the author insisted that anyone interested in learning to dance the
sardana could do so at home by themselves in merely eight days using his pamphlet.119
According to Capmany, the sardana llarga was created between 1840 and 1850.120
Josep Anselm Clavé (1824-1874) composed Lo pom de flors, a sardana for choir and orchestra,
and the choir sang and danced the sardana for a concert in Barcelona in 1859.121 The traditional
sardana was introduced to the city of Barcelona around 1860; however, it was nothing more
than an exhibition of the dance.122 Before its arrival in Barcelona, the sardana was only a
regional dance with no pan-Catalan associations. The sardana again was danced in Barcelona in
1871, but this time at an important annual city festival.123 The dancers were from Empordá, and
the sardana was labeled as a regional dance by the festival programmers, clearly illustrating
that it was still not yet viewed as a national dance. Capmany writes of the 1871 performance in
Barcelona: “If a good collection of folk songs has already been written, then is there no one
who could rescue the sardana from the threat of sacrilege?”124 At that time, the music of the
sardana followed musical characteristics of the Italian, German, and French operatic styles of
Martí Paloma, “Opuscle per a aprendre de ballar sardanes,” 1933?, 7. “…en vuit dies en podrà apendre a casa
seva mateix sense haver de menester ningú que que n’hi ensenyi.”
Jaume Nonell and Lluís Subirana, Compàs (Barcelona: Caixa de Barcelona, 1988), 69.
the period.125 The foreign musical styles were criticized as being alien and irreverent toward
Catalan culture.126 Capmany remarked that when the festival for the Mare de Déu de la Mercè
was first celebrated, the cobles were from Empordas and that citizens of Barcelona attending
only watched and listened.127 Capmany believed that the sardana became popular in Barcelona
after an 1892 performance of the opera Garín, l’eremita di Montserrat by Tomás Bretón at the
Teatre del Liceu that included the dancing of the sardana.128 In 1902, the city of Barcelona
organized cobla and sardana dancing competitions for the annual city festival, festes de la
The sardana was used directly for political purposes as early as 1906 by the Solidaritat
Catalana, a Catalan nationalist political party. For this organization, the sardana became a
symbol of solidarity and brotherhood.130 An influential figure in transforming the sardana into a
national symbol was Francesc Cambó (1876-1947). Cambó, with the assistance of Josep Pella i
Forgas, both members of the Barcelona government and originally from the city of Empordá,
placed the sardana in official programs.131 The sardana was soon introduced to the last two
regions of Catalonia, Lleida and Tarragona.132 During the early twentieth century, the sardana
became a natural component of cultural and patriotic programs in Barcelona, and then in the
rest of Catalonia.133 Cultural centers, societies, and institutions were formed that would meet
Ibid. Josep Martí i Perez, “The Sardana as a Socio-Cultural Phenomenon in Contemporary Catalonia,” Yearbook
for Traditional Music 26(1994): 41. Mainar, 41.
Jaume Nonell and Lluís Subirana, 68.
on Sunday afternoons to sing popular and patriotic songs, recite poems, and dance, which
always included sardanes.134 The use of the sardana by political parties continued until the
Primo de Rivera dictatorship (1923-30). However, by that time the sardana had became a fixed
national symbol. Other local dances lost their significance to the sardana as it was standardized
and diffused throughout Catalonia. The following quotation from a 1929 book by British
anthropologist and sociologist John Langdon-Davies entitled Dancing Catalans illustrates the
animosity felt by some Catalans during this period towards the Spanish central government. His
informant spoke about the emotions felt by having the Guardia Civil, state policemen,
observing Catalans dancing the sardana:
When I see the Guardia Civil walking about my village square I feel as if I had
found a strange man in my wife’s bed; no, far worse than that, I feel as if I had
found a man in my mother’s bed.”135
In the invention of a “national dance,” complications arose with two competing
methods to repartir, a style from Empordà and Selva. According to Capmany, the Empordà style
was easier because it was more ancient and purer than the Selva style.136 However, he advised
that all Catalans should respect and preserve both styles because they represented the living
motherland.137 Capmany believed that sardana dancing competitions might aid in the
maintaining of the two dance styles.138 In an attempt to find compromise and unity, Capmany
Jaume Nonell and Lluís Subirana. 68. Sardanes are danced every Sunday in front of the Barcelona Cathedral
John Langdon-Davies, Dancing Catalans (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1929), 140. The informant LangdonDavies writes of was a “Catalan friend with a cosmopolitan education.”
begged sardanistes (enthusiasts and devotees of the sardana) to preserve both styles, Empordà
Now, some words directed towards sardanistes, who, in addition to the fondness that
they carry for the sardana, have placed Catalonia in their hearts. I beg you to not forget
that the two districts, La Selva and Empordà, have sent to all Catalans a dance that is the
pride of our race; therefore, it is the patriotic and brotherly duty to not establish
differences, but instead to show equal love for both, to preserve the sardana in the style
of Empordà, without forgetting the La Selva style, as has been maintained till now. This
especially concerns the practices of sardanistes who are not from either region, and
who deserve a token of affection and gratitude.139
The sardana typically was described as a dance that created and displayed the peaceful
unity of all Catalans, but occasionally authors described the dance as a weapon that would
function in the recovery of the Catalan nation. The following quotation of Llongueres displays
the double-sided symbolism of the dance: “The sardana, this war dance, which is the most
beautiful dance of peace and brotherhood, has become in our times, this crown that we
miss.”140 He further described those that loved and promoted the sardana as fighters for
Catalonia: “The first conscious sardanistes, those that adopted and implanted the sardana as a
national dance, were all venerable fighters, tireless and zealous workers for our ancestral
cause.”141 Speaking of the sardana, Capdevila also described the dance as a weapon: “One thing
is to consider it an element of Catalanization—we have already spoke of its strong spiritual
Capmany, 92. “Ara, unes paraules didicades als sardanistes que, a més de l’afecte que portin a la sardana,
tinguin posat el cor en Catalunya. Són aquestes per a pregar-los no oblidin que dues comarques, La Selva i
l’Empordà, han tramès a tots els catalans el llegat d’una dansa que és l’orgull de la nostra niçaga; per tant, és deure
de germanor patriòtica no establir diferències i mostrar igual amor per una i altra, això és, conserver la Sardana a
l’estil empordanès, mes tampoc deixar oblidat l’estil sevatà, com s’ha fet fins ara. Això correspond portar-ho a la
pràctica en especial als sardanistes que no són de la una ni de l’altra comarca, en penyora de l’afecte i agraiment
que es mereixen.”
Llongueres, 36. “La Sardana, aquesta dansa guerrera, que és la més bella, dansa de pau i de germanor, ha estat
en nostres temps, aquesta corona que us mancava.”
Ibid., 28. “Els primers sardanistes conscients, aquells que adoptaren i implantaren la Sardana com a dansa
nacional, eren tots ells lluitaors abrivats i treballadors infatigables i zelosos de la nostra causa pairal.”
attraction that could wake up sleeping consciousnesses—and another one could qualify it as a
weapon of war.” 142 According to Capdevila, the sardana was a triumphant weapon in the war
of recovering the Catalan land: “It is a fact that the sardana gains ground and soon it will be
throughout its borders. It is a fact that this music, which is characteristically ours, is a perfection
of visible form.”143
The sardana and cobla are visual, kinetic, and sonic cultural emblems of Catalonia. The
modern sardana or sardana llarga dates from around 1840 and its musical form and ensemble
can in part be attributed to Pep Ventura and its standardized choreography to Miquel Pardàs i
Roure, both from Girona, the northern region of Catalonia. Shortly after its creation in northern
Catalonia, it was introduced to the city of Barcelona and then to the outer regions of Lledia and
Tarragona. Amades described this diffusion as opportunistic: “The sardana left its mark of
strictly belonging to Girona to come to Barcelona in the precise moment that its journey could
benefit ...”144 Feelings of occupation and oppression by the Spanish state produced Catalan
sentiment, which initiated the revitalization of the sardana as a symbolic national dance. The
following comment by Amades represents a concise history of the sardana, which was
disseminated throughout Catalonia as propaganda of Catalan nationalists:
The author of the sardana llarga that so many times one has sought, there is no single
individual; it is the spirit of all our people, it is Empordà, Selva, Gironés, Garrotxa, and all
those surrounding areas that will hear it and will make it their own. It enlivened
Capdevila, 19. “Una cosa és que hom la consideri un element de catalanització—ja que hem dit que el seu fort
encís espiritual podia desvetllar conciències adormides—i una altra que se la qualifiqui d’arma de combat.”
Capdevila, 14. “Es un fet que la sardana guanya terreny i aviat tot Catalunya sera dins el seu clos. Es un fet que
aquesta música característicament nostra es perfecciona de faisó vistent.”
Amades, 84. “La Sardana sortí del seu marc estrictament gironí, per venir a Barcelona, en el moment précis que
el seu viatge podia resultar profitós...”
everyone. The invention, the creation of the sardana llarga therefore belongs to the
spiritual patrimony of the people and no one else.145
At its creation, it was not a national dance, but its perceived association with the Catalan rural
landscape, its overt symbolism, its ability to create a sense of national consciousness, and its
standardization made the dance and music attractive to Catalan nationalists and their nationbuilding agendas at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Ibid., 73. “L’autor de la Sardana llarga, que tantes vegades s’ha cercat, no és cap personatge determinat; és
l’esperit de tot el nostre poble, és l’Empordà, Selva, el Gironés, la Garrotxa i totes aquelles contrades que la
sentiren i que se la van fer seva. Tothom hi va posar l’ànima. La invenció, la creació, de la Sardana llarga, pertany,
doncs, al patrimoni espiritual del poble i a ningú més.”
CHAPTER 3: EARLY WORKS AND LIFE OF GERHARD
The composer Roberto Gerhard i Ottenwaelder was born on 25 September 1896 in Valls
(situated in the Catalan province of Tarragona), to Swiss-born Robert Gerhard and Alsatian-born
Maria Ottenwaelder, who operated a wine business in the small Catalan town.
His mother recalled Gerhard’s first musical experience, which occurred around age two or
three. The young Gerhard wandered from his home and was ultimately found crying in a
roadside ditch on the outer edge of town by the local doctor. Supposedly, captivated by the
music playing of a barrel organ, the young Gerhard left his home and followed the street
musician and got lost. Joaquim Homs, Gerhard’s former student and biographer, joked that this
first experience in music “ended up in tears” for Gerhard.1 According to Homs, Gerhard’s
second music-related memory occurred while Gerhard played with tin soldiers on his family’s
balcony. Observing the proportional relationship between the toy soldiers and the tile floor,
Gerhard translated this to music, later claiming that “inspiration emerged from the combination
of an abstract concept, such as proportion, with an element of pure sensory experience.”2 In
Hom’s biography of Gerhard, he records that as a young schoolboy, Gerhard first encountered
Catalan modernisme from the newly painted lettering on signage from the neighborhood
pharmacy, which Gerhard later imitated at school.3
Joaquim Homs, Robert Gerhard y su obra (Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo, 1987), 15.
Ibid., 16. “inspiración surgido de la conjunción de un concepto abstracto, como es de la proporción, con un
elemento de pura experiencia sensorial.”
At age twelve, Gerhard left for Zöfingen, Switzerland in order to prepare for his studies
in commerce in both Neuchâtel and Lausanne.4 Gerhard began his musical training with Hugo
Strauss in Lausanne. Lasting only six months, the lessons consisted of working through Ernst
Friedrich Richter’s book on harmony. Gerhard confessed in a 1923 letter to Arnold Schoenberg
that he “lived for a long time then in the belief that the harmony book need almost concern me
no longer.”5 After convincing his parents of his musical aspirations, he soon dedicated himself
to music and, according to Gerhard, composing “a great deal, and on my own initiative,
dabbling in counterpoint.”6 After Lausanne, Gerhard attended the Musikhochschule in Munich,
studying piano with Karl Roesger, attending choral courses, and taking private counterpoint
lessons with Walter Courvoisier; however, the outbreak of the First World War caused Gerhard
to remain in Germany for only four months. He later would sardonically comment on his
naivety at that period to Schoenberg: “I naturally maintained everywhere that I had completely
mastered harmony; that was never tested!”7 He returned to Valls, eventually settling in
Barcelona to study piano with Enrique Granados in 1914.
LIED [“STILL! MITTERNACHT, EIN LOSGELASSNER WIND”] (C. 1913)
The earliest extant composition by Gerhard remains a solitary German lied. Likely
composed while the young composer was in Lucerne, Switzerland, Gerhard presumably penned
the work between 1913 and 1914. In a brief biographical note from a 1918 concert program, it
stated that the composer’s earliest endeavors involved the composition of German and French
Joaquim Homs, Robert Gerhard and His Music (Sheffield: Anglo-Catalan Society, 2000), 92.
art songs and a string quartet.8 However, no French art songs or the aforementioned string
quartet by the Catalan composer have survived; there is only a single German art song in
existence by the composer.
Generically titled “Lied” by Gerhard, the work exists only in manuscript and appears to
be in the later stages of composition. The manuscript contains errors in notation, most notably
with rhythm (omission of dots in dotted rhythms and incorrectly notated triplets). Further
peculiarities with the manuscript include awkward notation of the extreme upper ranges of the
piano. In addition to his employing of a foreign genre and language for composition, he applied
expressive markings in Italian; in many of his later Catalan works, Gerhard used Catalan for
While no author is attributed with the text, indications suggest that Gerhard might have
also authored the poem. The fourth line of the poem contains a mistake that in all probability
would not have been made by a native German author. In place of “und klopft an meine
Fenster,” Gerhard incorrectly wrote “und klopft an meinen Fenster.” Romantic in both subject
and style, the poem depicts nature and fantasy in a style reminiscent of the nineteenth-century
German poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.
Still! Mitternacht, ein losgelassner Wind
heult draussen wie Gespenster.
Der Regen traurig rinnt
und klopft an meinen [sic] Fenster.
Silent! Midnight, a relinquished wind
wails outside like a ghost.
The rain sadly runs down
and knocks at my windows.
Er trommelt mir heut, eine düstere Weise
im dunkeln lausch ich Stumm
mir geht im Herzen leise
ein toter Traum her um.
It drums for me today, a gloomy tune
I listen in the dark silently
in my heart there is
a dead dream roaming.
Concert program, Associació d’Amics de la Música de Barcelona, Palau de la Música, 22 January 1918.
The poem has the rhyme scheme of ababcdcd. The fifth line of the poem fittingly evokes music.
In the key of E-minor, the Lied employs rubato, contains asymmetrical rhythms, and
changes meter (4/4, 3/4, and 12/8). Marked lento, the succinct song consisting of 42 measures
opens with a 13-measure piano introduction that begins with parallel octaves that outline the
tonic and dominant. Within the early measures of the introduction, significant motives and
triplets emerge. The opening gesture in parallel octaves also marks structural points within the
work (see Musical Examples 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3).
Ex. 3.1. Roberto Gerhard, Lied, meas. 1-2.
Ex. 3.2. Roberto Gerhard, Lied, meas. 14-15.
Ex. 3.3. Roberto Gerhard, Lied, meas. 29-30.
The first stanza opens in the same manner as the introduction with parallel octaves (see
Musical Example 3.2). Employing a non-virtuosic melody (narrow range, syllabic, repeated
pitches, and primarily in conjunct motion), the melody centers on the pitches B, E, and F-sharp.
Word painting takes place in the piano when an arpeggio in sextuplets occurs under the word
“Wind” (wind), and a chromatic scale passage in nonuplets followed with a passage in parallel
octaves accompanies the phrase “heult draussen wie Gespenster” (wails outside like a ghost).
The next portion of text lingers on the pitches B, A, and F-sharp. The use of vocables (see
Musical Example 3.4) occurs on the motive presented earlier in the introduction and in
response to the piano. The voice imitates the motive, also appearing in parallel major thirds in
the piano, and the vocable section precedes the “gloomy tune” cited in the text (see Musical
Ex. 3.4. Roberto Gerhard, Lied, meas. 26-27.
The second stanza begins with a brief piano introduction employing the initial gesture of
the work (see Musical Example 3.3). Triplets in the voice take place on the words “trommelt
mir” (drums for me), and the preceding motive returns (see Musical Example 3.5)—now with
the text “düstere Weise” (gloomy tune). Primarily on the pitch B, the melody ends on G,
ultimately cadences on B in the piano, and ends with an E-minor triad.
Ex. 3.5. Roberto Gerhard, Lied, meas. 33.
SONATINE À CARLOS (1914)
Gerhard completed Sonatine à Carlos in 1914 in his birthplace of Valls, and the young
composer dedicated the work to his younger brother Carles. The solo piano piece exists only in
manuscript and appears to be in the later stages of composition. In many ways, the work
resembles the piano music of Enrique Granados.9 Sonatine à Carlos, a piano miniature, shares
with the music of Granados its jagged rhythms and heavy use of written-out ornamentation. A
playful composition for piano, the work has in common, albeit on a much smaller a scale,
numerous conventions of the sonata. In Gerhard’s sonatine, the melody situates primarily in
the right hand and relies on drones in the left hand. The sonatine is 118 measures in length; its
exposition is 46 measures, followed with a concise development section of 26 measures, and
the recapitulation shares the same number of measures as the exposition. In A-flat major, the
sonatine opens with an energetic primary theme (see Musical Example 3.6).
A year after its composition, Gerhard would study piano with Granados in Barcelona at the Academia Granados.
Ex. 3.6. Roberto Gerhard, Sonatine à Carlos, meas. 1-4.
After the first statement of the primary theme, a variation of the primary theme follows.
As convention, the work modulates to the key of E-flat major. The secondary theme employs
greater rhythmic variety than the primary theme (see Musical Example 3.7).
Ex. 3.7. Roberto Gerhard, Sonatine à Carlos, meas. 26-30.
Gerhard’s earliest works display naivety as a composer, exhibiting only a basic
understanding of counterpoint and harmony. He confined himself to composing small works
for solo piano, songs, as well as a string quartet. The extant works of the period attempt to
resemble music of the romantic era. In song, he chose German and French instead of Catalan,
and for expressive markings he used Italian. In only a few years after composing Sonatine à
Carlos, Gerhard would eventually achieve moderate success as a composer.
CHAPTER 4: STUDY WITH FELIPE PEDRELL
Gerhard began his musical studies with Felipe Pedrell in 1916, investigating early
Spanish liturgical music and traditional Spanish music with the leading scholar of the period, as
well as studying composition with the Spanish maestro. Two years before his study with
Pedrell, Gerhard studied piano with Enrique Granados and later with Frank Marshall. Beginning
in 1916, Gerhard began to collect Catalan traditional music for the Arxiu d’Etnografia i Folklore
de Catalunya. This period also marks Gerhard’s earliest compositional successes with public
performances and publication of several of his works. However, Gerhard faced a musical
crossroads; while receiving praise for his music, the young Catalan composer’s music lacked a
singular compositional direction and lacked an individual voice. In 1921, he unsuccessfully
sought out Andalusian Manuel de Falla to study composition. Gerhard’s later works of this era
display a sense of universality.
Pedrell (1841-1922) served as a prominent figure in the development of a national
music in Spain. Pedrell advocated for an art form influenced by Richard Wagner combined with
national Spanish song. In addition to Gerhard, students of the Catalan composer and
musicologist included Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, Lluís Millet, and Manuel de Falla.
Gerhard was Pedrell’s last pupil and in the maestro’s own words “the best fruit of his vine.” 1
Gerhard began his studies with Pedrell in 1916, and under his tutelage, Gerhard closely
Adolfo Salazar, “Revista de música,” El Sol, January 16, 1920, 9.
examined the contrapuntal works from the Golden Age of the Spanish Renaissance as well as
traditional Spanish music.
Largely self-taught, Pedrell embarked on a career as both a composer and scholar of
Spanish music, primarily early Spanish liturgical music. From 1876 to 1877, Pedrell conducted
research in Italy on the music of Tomás Luis de Victoria, eventually editing many of the
composer’s works. In many letters to Pedrell, Gerhard often lightheartedly addressed his
mentor as Magnum, making reference to Victoria’s composition.
In an early letter to Schoenberg, Gerhard described the position of Pedrell within
Spanish society and their relationship: “Rather an object of hostility, the old master lived among
us abandoned and forgotten. He developed a cordial affection for me; I became his Benjamin,
giving him comfort when he was disappointed.”2 According to Gerhard, Pedrell’s uncritical
assessments of his music led to a false sense of security:
I got no education from him: I had only to compose in a fresh way and without
deliberation, and it was always to his great satisfaction. His unrestricted praise led me to
acquire certain fame within our circle: my vanity and total lack of mental discipline led
me to consider my studies to be complete.3
Despite his perceived deficiencies in the teaching of Pedrell, Gerhard appreciated their
relationship and attributed all that he knew about music—traditional music in particular—to
the Catalan master:
I loved and honored Pedrell enormously; it caused me great pain to have to leave him a
year before his death; in spite of everything I have him to thank for almost all of the best
in me; he revealed to me the wonderful neglected treasure of our true folk music, but
he could give me no technique or discipline. He, too, albeit with genius, was an amateur,
a great amateur.4
Homs, Robert Gerhard and His Music, 92.
In a broadcast talk on the BBC that took place in the 1940s, Gerhard spoke of Pedrell
and Spanish music, making parallel connections between his former teacher and Antonio
Towards the end of the eighteenth century, a Spanish theorist, the Jesuit Padre Antonio
Eximeno (1729-1808), in his book on the laws of music, expressed the idea that “every
country ought to base its art-music on its own folk-song.” This was a remarkable opinion
for an author to adopt at that time. It amounts to a clear forecast of musical
Gerhard added that “one can imagine how delighted Pedrell must have been with this, which
confirmed the course he already set himself.”6 Gerhard continued his talk by also comparing
Pedrell with Béla Bartók and his work with Hungarian traditional music. In Spain, Pedrell
collected traditional music for his Cancionero. Both Pedrell and Bartók sought out music—
excluding popular music, perceived as not representing the nation, which Gerhard explained:
The service Pedrell rendered his country with the Cancionero is in many ways
comparable to that Bartók had done with regard to Hungarian folk-music. In both
countries we find a special repertoire of sophisticated popular music that does not
belong really to the common people but to a special class of semi-professional
musicians who provide entertainment for paying audiences.7
For both Pedrell and Bartók, the music of the Romani was not recognized as national music.
Agreeing, Gerhard contextualized the role of flamenco music—associated with the Romani—in
art music, claiming that “Both Hungarian gipsy-music and the ‘Andalusian gipsy’ of Flamenco
guitar-music and cante jondo were highly glamorous stuff that easily caught the fancy of
Meirion Bowen, Gerhard on Music (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), 39. In exile, Gerhard, while maintaining his Catalan
identity, often identified himself as Spanish.
audiences and composers at home and abroad, and which generally is held to represent the
very essence of these two countries’ national music,” emphasizing that “in truth it does not.” 8
Pedrell’s ethnomusicological work predated the work of Bartók. In his talk, Gerhard
revealed the sources of Pedrell’s collected songs:
When Pedrell—like Bartók later on—started collecting his songs amongst peasants,
fishermen, artisans, children, itinerant peddlers, beggars and so forth, he revealed to us
the real vernacular musical idiom of Spain. This is something much less glamorous than
flamenco but it goes much deeper towards showing the musical grain of the nation.9
Gerhard argued that traditional music for Pedrell served as a springboard for Spanish art music,
and furthermore that historically Spanish composers have always done so:
suffice to say that Pedrell’s studies in both these fields of Spanish folk-music and music
history led him to the conclusion that when Eximeno had advised that every country
ought to base its art-music on its own folk-song, he had just formulated, without
knowing it, one of the distinctive characteristics of the Spanish School. This was
precisely what Spanish art-music has done throughout its history, as a traditional
constant and nearly general practice of composition.10
In his BBC talk, Gerhard was careful not to claim that Pedrell was overt in his quest for national
art music: “of course this ought not to be understood as evidence of a really conscious aesthetic
attitude, such as that of Padre Eximeno.”11 Gerhard argued that the Spanish have always
blurred the distinction between “low” and “high” art: “to my way of thinking it points to a much
deeper and general characteristic of the Spanish mind. The divorce between the highbrow and
the popular, between the vulgar and the aristocratic has never been accepted in Spanish art to
the extent it has been in other nations,” adding that “the smoothest ivory of Spanish ivory
towers will always show streaks and veins of popular idioms that reach down to the earth.” 12
Gerhard concluded his BBC talk characterizing his former teacher, asserting: “what Pedrell
considered to be his main purpose in life was the re-awakening of the Spanish consciousness as
a musical nation: and to this end he would have us regard equally his work as a scholar and as a
ANDALUSIA: FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA AND MANUEL DE FALLA
Gerhard ended his studies with Pedrell in 1921, and the young Gerhard in his twenties
faced a musical crossroads. Seeking a new musical direction, Gerhard traveled to Paris, Madrid,
and Granada. In Andalusia, Gerhard met poet Federico García Lorca and Manuel de Falla—asking
for musical instruction from the Andalusian composer. Ultimately, Gerhard sought out the
guidance of Arnold Schoenberg, after living in momentarily self-imposed isolation in Valls.
Writing to his family on March 1921, Lorca revealed his admiration for both Gerhard and
Adolfo Salazar as composers. In the letter, Lorca wrote “I completed a poetic suite for Salazar
and Gerhard to set to music, two young musicians well oriented in the pure and brand new
schools of art, which is what I aspire.”14 However, no evidence survives that Gerhard ever
received or composed songs from Lorca’s poetry. Later in August, Lorca mentioned to Melchor
Fernández Almargo of his like-mindedness with the two composers, writing:
I made sixty subscriptions from among the finest of Granada, being careful that they are
young people; so that almost all the subscribers belong to the aristocracy of the
Federico García Lorca, Epistolario Completo, ed. Christopher Maurer (Madrid: Cátedra, 1997), 105. “He
terminado una suite poemática para que le pongan música Salazar y Gerhard, dos músicos jóvenes bien orientados
en las escuelas puras y novísimas del arte, que es lo que yo aspiro.”
university. We can therefore, dear Melchorito, make beautiful progress among these
youth. I, like I told you, am overjoyed; I hope that you will also be on track with this
work. Salazar is excited; also Roberto Gerhard, Manolo Ortiz and all who deeply believe
in a magazine that makes us live more intensely, a magazine that brings us together and
that gallantly attacks during this sad era of mediocre and piggish people.15
On 1 June 1921, Salazar asked Lorca if he would be there on his return to Madrid, and
that he and Gerhard were experiencing problems with passports attempting to leave from Paris
to London.16 Gerhard in the same letter added “Dear poet, we conquered Paris like two
Korfantys.”17 Later in a September 1921 postcard, Salazar informed Lorca that he and Gerhard
planned to visit Cordoba, Seville, Malaga, and Granada.18 In an August 1921 letter, Lorca
responded to Salazar’s request, writing that “I will be in Granada when you return, and we will
stroll around everywhere. As for Robert, I would be glad if he came down here now.”19 Gerhard
and Salazar visited Lorca in Granada in October 1921.
Making reference to Lorca’s connection to Andalusia in a letter written on 22 September
1921, Gerhard humorously addressed the Andalusian poet as “Sidi Federico Ben García-El-Lorca
Ibid., 128. “He hecho sesenta suscripciones entre las personas finas de Granada, teniendo cuidado de que sean
gente joven; así es que casi todos los suscriptores pertencen a la aristocracia de la Universidad. Podemos, pues,
querido Melchorito, hacer una preciosa labor de avance entre esta juventud. Yo, como te digo, estoy loco de
contento; espero que tú también lo estarás en tu propósito de hacer esta obra. Salazar está entusiasmado;
también Roberto Gerhard, Manolo Ortiz y todos los que hondamente pensamos en una revista que nos haga vivir
más intensamente, una revista que nos agrupe y que ataque gallardamente en esta triste época de gentes
mediocres y gurrinicas.”
Federico García Lorca, Los musicos escriben a Federico García Lorca, ed. Roger Tinnell (Seville: Junta de
Andalucia, 2009), 104.
Ibid., 105. “Querido poeta, Estamos conquistando París como dos Korfantys.” Gerhard makes reference to the
Polish national activist Wojciech Korfanty, a political figure that sought the return of the Upper Silesia to Poland
from its German rule. In another letter, Gerhard also addressed Frederic Mompou as Korfanty.
Ibid. “Yo estaré en Granada cuando tú vuelvas y pasearemos por todas partes. En Cuanto a Roberto me alegraría
que ahora viniese por aquí.”
Poeta carisimo!”20 Thanking Lorca for a copy of his Libro de poemas (1921), the appreciative
Gerhard revealed to Lorca that the book arrived at an opportune moment:
A million thanks for your white book that came to my hands when I needed it most:
being sick, locked in a dark room filled with steam from eucalyptus, surrounded by
bottles and bottles of bitter medicines, longing for the sea and the countryside and
friendly trees, the hours of stars and the chirping of crickets: your book has been all my
summer and your poems have cured me.21
In the same letter, Gerhard told Lorca of the popularity of Libro de poemas among Catalan
Your book has gone through all the hands of my poet friends here, all are already your
friends and you are figuratively present in all our walks and in our conversations, passes
from one poet’s hand to another like a wonderful bird with its hot heart, hot like water
from a faucet, which the hands never tire of having.22
Intending to leave Barcelona to visit Madrid shortly afterwards, Gerhard wrote that he planned
to stop over in Granada and hoped to see Lorca.
In a letter written by Lorca on February 1922 to Spanish guitarist Regino Sáinz de la
Maza, it appears that the Spanish poet, while friendly with Gerhard, was unaware of the
spelling of his last name: “If you see Roberto Gerahar (I do not know how one spells it), hug him
[for me].”23In a March 1922 letter to Lorca, Regino Sáinz de la Maza praised Gerhard as a
composer, writing “Last night they premiered a trio by Gerhard with great success. I definitely
Ibid. “Un millión de gracias por tu blanco libro que llegó a mis manos cuando más falta me hacía: estando
enfermo, encerrado en una habitación obscura [sic], llena de vahos de eucalipyus, rodeado de frascos y botellas de
amargas medicinas añorando el mar y el campo y los árboles amigos, las horas de estrellas y el canto de los grillos:
tu libro ha sido todo mi verano y tus versos me han curado.”
Ibid. “Tu libro ha pasado por todas las manos de mis amigos poetas aqui, todos son ya tus amigos y tu figura es
presente en todos nuestros paseos y en nuestras conversaciones, pasa de unas manos de poeta a otras como un
pájaro maravilloso con su corazón caliente caliente como el agua de la fuente y las manos no se cansarían nunca
Ibid. “Si ves a Roberto Gerahar (no sé cómo se escribe) lo abrazas.”
liked it. We recounted a lot about you and he asked me to give you a hug. I think he is a Spanish
composer of the future; he will arrive to synthesize in a clear way, the spirit of new music.”24
Both Lorca and Falla collaborated in the organization of the Concurso de Cante Jondo in
Granada on 13 and 14 June 1922. In addition to Gerhard, those active in the project included
Conrado del Campo, Adolfo Salazar, Kurt Schindler, Andrés Segovia, John B. Trend, and Joaquín
Turina. Previously in 1919, Pedrell provided a letter of introduction for Gerhard to Falla:
My disciple Gerhard, who has more time than I. . . will send you a trio for piano, violin,
and cello and will soon provide a transcription, the hunting scene from La Celestina, that
you will recall perfectly, for the same combination of instruments.25
In October of 1921, Gerhard sent a letter to Falla to communicate his positive impressions of
Andalusia from his recent visit:
How to convey it, dear maestro, of the splendid and unforgettable memories that I have
of our trip and especially the days in Granada? Since my return, not a day has passed
that I go without talking to some friend of all the marvelous views and sounds out there.
Gerhard continued his praise of Andalusia to Falla, mentioning Lorca and the guitarist Ángel
A tour of this wonderful country is actually one of these adventures of the soul that
leaves a deep and complex resonance that never ends and that one does not need to
search anywhere else in the world!, but it is necessary to reawaken, although without
going through Malaga, this ending however, on which our dear friends Ángel [Barrios]
and Federico [Lorca] must agree on when the time comes, and in any case, you may
decide the matter, if in the meantime, tired of the discussion, you will learn of it with
your own eyes and provide an original and definitive perspective.26
Ibid., 94. “Anoche estrenaron un trio de Gerhard con gran éxito. A mí me gustó definitivamente. Te hemos
recordado mucho y me encarga un abrazo para ti. Yo creo que es el músico español del provenir; él que llegará a
sintetizar de una manera clara, el espíritu de la nueva música.”
Felipe Pedrell to Manuel de Falla, January 1, 1919, Manuel de Falla Archive. “Mi discípulo Gerhard, que tiene
más tiempo que yo. . . enviará a Vd. un trío para p[iano], viol[ín] y cello y se encargará de transcribir por de
pronto, la escena de la cacería de La Celestina, que recordará V. perfectamente, para la misma combinación de
Roberto Gerhard to Manuel de Falla, October 28, 1921, Manuel de Falla Archive. “¿Cómo decirle, querido
maestro el recuerdo espléndido e imborrable que conservo de nuestro viaje y sobre todo de los días de Granada?
In July of 1921, Gerhard sent a letter to Falla requesting to study with him in Granada:
You already know how much I want to spend a period of time in Granada near you; I
would go with delight to set up myself for the summer in one of the ineffable corners of
the Alhambra; however, I would only be comfortable knowing for certain that my
presence would be less heavy than a straw, and that you would not sacrifice even an
hour of work because of my visits. Do you believe, dear maestro, that you can make
plans for a group of such discrete company? Would you answer me? Of course, I submit
to all conditions that you desire! 27
Later that month, Falla wrote of Gerhard to Pedrell: “Through him, I know that you have
dedicated some moments to Sombrero de tres picos, and you will have already deduced, how
pleasing it is for me to know.”28 A year later, Gerhard continued to correspond with Falla,
desperately seeking his advice:
I work a great deal and in a much disciplined way. I had not worked in my life like now,
that is to say, I had worked until now—discounting the years of my early teens, a little
amateur plan, and above all, from two or three years in a completely Bohemian plan!...
Now, if my plans are achieved, and for the time being it allows me to wait for it all, this
way of life and work should find its ideal complement in two or three months a year
living in Paris. Perhaps you disapprove of my determination? In any case, sincerely tell
me; you already know how much I will appreciate it. I am aware of the serious risks that
occur in exceedingly absolute isolation, for that reason, I will only do what is strictly
Desde mi regreso no ha pasado ningún día sin que tenga que hablar con algún amigo de todas las maravillas vistas
y oídas por ahi. Una excursión por este país admirable es realmente una de estas aventuras del alma que dejan una
honda y compleja resonancia que no se acaba en toda la vida y que no hay que ir a buscar a ninguna otra parte ¡del
mundo!, pero que es necesario provocar nuevamente pero sin pasar por Málaga, extremo, éste, sin embargo,
sobre el cual habrán de ponerse de acuerdo en su tiempo nuestros queridos amigos Ángel y Federico, y en todo
caso Vd. podrá trancher la question si entretanto, cansado de la discusión, se va Vd. a enterar de visu y aportar un
punto de vista original y definitivo.”
Roberto Gerhard to Manuel de Falla, July 9, 1921, Manuel de Falla Archive. “Ya sabe Vd. cuánto deseo pasar una
temporada en Granada, cerca de Vd; iría con delicias a instalarme por el verano en alguno de los rincones inefables
de la Alhambra, pero únicamente estaría a gusto estando seguro [de] que mi presencia pudiera ser menos pesada
que una paja y que Vd. no tendría que sacrificar a mis visitas ni una hora de trabajo. ¿Cree Vd., querido Maestro,
que puede combinarse un sistema de tan discreta compañía? ¿Quiere Vd. contestarme? ¡Claro, que me someto a
todas las condiciones que Vd.desee!”
Manuel de Falla to Felipe Pedrell, July 18, 1921, Manuel de Falla Archive. “Por él sé que han dedicado Vds.
algunos ratos al Sombrero de tres picos y ya supondrá Vd. lo gratísimo que me es saberlo.”
necessary and try also not to lose contact with the world: friends, musicians, books, and
magazines are the ties that bond.29
Gerhard once again requested guidance from Falla, making reference to his Dos apunts and a
I gave to a novice Barcelonian editor friend of mine some sketches for piano in which
you will see the course my sentimental ship takes after the crisis of these recent times...
slowly I am also working on a quartet and for the moment, more than anything else, I
am studying a great deal. I will send you these things because, as you already know, in
these initial moments and in my isolation, no matter how hard the dark necessity impels
by its own way and not by choice, avuncular advice is doubly precious and necessary.
Write to me dear maestro.30
After Gerhard’s failed attempt to study with Falla, the Catalan composer returned to his
hometown of Valls, placing himself in self-imposed isolation in a farmhouse outside the city.
The early works composed during and shortly after Gerhard’s study with Pedrell reveal
the young Catalan composer’s attempts to discover his musical direction—influenced by the
music of Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg. During this stage, Gerhard concentrated
on diminutive works utilizing small musical forces that ranged from solo piano and art song to
limited chamber ensembles. His youthful works are tonal or pitch centric, and while his use of
rhythm is conventional, he often places it at the forefront of his music. Gerhard employed texts
Roberto Gerhard (Valls) to Manuel de Falla, Febuary 5, 1922, Manuel de Falla Archive. “Trabajo mucho y de una
manera muy disciplinada. ¡No había trabajado en mi vida como ahora, es decir, que había trabajado hasta ahora,
descontado los años de mi primera adolescencia, un poco en plan amateur, y sobretodo, desde 2 ó 3 años
completamente en plan de bohemio!...Ahora, si mis planes se realizan, y por lo pronto todo me permite esperarlo,
este sistema de vida y de trabajo debe encontrar su ideal complemento en 2 ó 3 meses al año de vida en París.
¿Quizás desapruebe Vd. mi determinación?; dígamelo en todo caso sinceramente, ya sabe Vd. cuánto se lo
agradeceré. Me doy cuenta de los graves riesgos que se corren en un aislamiento demasiado absoluto, por eso
procuro que no lo sea sino lo estrictamente necesario y procuro además no perder de vista el contacto con el
mundo: amigos, músicas, libros y revistas son el lazo de unión.”
Roberto Gerhard to Manuel de Falla, April 15, 1922, Manuel de Falla Archive. “He dado a un novel editor
barcelonés amigo mío unos apuntes para piano que verá Vd. el rumbo que toma mi barco sentimental después de
la crisis de estos últimos tiempos…Lentamente trabajo además en un cuarteto y estudio mucho, más que otra
cosa, por el momento. Le mandaré estas cosas porque ya sabe Vd. que en estos momentos iniciales y en mi
aislamiento por más que se sienta la obscura necesidad que impele por el camino propio y no elegido, una voz de
alerta es doblemente preciosa y necesaria. Escríbame V. querido Maestro.”
of modern Catalan poets Josep Carner, Josep Maria López-Picó, and Josep Maria Junoy. In
addition, Gerhard’s first published works (L’infantament meravellós de Schahrazada, Trio No. 2,
and Dos apunts) occurred during this period.
TRIO NO. 1 (1916-17)
Trio No. 1 for violin, cello, and piano remains unpublished and appears in the latter
stages of composition. It is a single movement with the musical form of ABA. The B section is
brief in relation to the outer A sections. The work opens in B minor and is in mixed meter (3/2
and 2/4). The primary theme first appears in the violin (see Musical Example 4.1) and consists
of repetition and development of the opening two measures. Soon after, the melody migrates
to the piano for a brief moment without the violin and cello. In the A section, Gerhard was
careful to elide the various themes.
Ex. 4.1. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no. 1, meas. 1-3.
The secondary theme makes its first appearance at measure 27 (see Musical Example 4.2), in
the closely related key of G major. The meter shifts to 4/2 and the dotted rhythmic figure
appears frequently. The third theme begins at measure 41 (see Musical Example 4.3), and is
eventually stated in all three instruments. The primary theme returns briefly, and revisits the
original alternating time signature. After opening in B minor, the A section as well as the trio
itself ends on a B major triad.
Ex. 4.2. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no. 1, meas. 27.
Ex. 4.3. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no. 1, meas. 41.
The B section is in G major and triple meter. The fourth theme appears in the piano first (see
Musical Example 4.4), and subsequently emerges in the strings. The manuscript indicates to
repeat the A section.
Ex. 4.4. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no. 1, meas. 76-78.
VERGER DE LES GALANIES (1918)
The Catalan art songs belonging to Verger de les Galanies (“Canço d’un doble amor” and
“Excelsior”) exist only in manuscript and look as if to be in the last stages of composition, with
red pencil marks as corrections. Gerhard utilized two poems from Verger de les Galanies (1911)
by noucentisme poet Josep Carner (1884-1970). In “Canço d’un doble amor,” the poem deals
with the love of two separate women:
L'amiga blanca m'ha encisat,
també la bruna
jo só una mica enamorat
The white friend bewitched me,
as well as the brown one
I sound as if I am a little bit in love
with each one.
Estimo I'una o gai etzar,
estimo l'altra o meravella
bella com l'una no m'apar,
fora de l'altre cap donzella.
I love the one oh happiness,
I love the other oh marvelous
beautiful like the one it does not seem to me,
outside of any other girl.
Quan una amiga em plau besar,
els meus dos braços estenia.
L'un va per ci l'altre per Uà,
i cadaseli porta una aimia.
When a friend kisses me,
both of my arms extend.
One was for the each
and each carries a spirit.
I quan ja sou aprop de mi
i ja mos dits les agombolen,
sóta les tuniques de Ili
hi ha dugues vides que tremolen.
And when you are near me
and you bite the fingers,
under the robes
there two lives tremble.
Gerhard set the poem “Canço d’un doble amor” syllabically. For voice and piano, the
work is tonal in the key of B major. The piano provides rhythmic interest (see Musical Example
4.5). The lyrical vocal melody is starkly contrasted against the faster moving and energetic piano
accompaniment. With a musical form of AbAbcA, the opening music and strophe of the song
returns throughout the work. The piece ends with a brief four-measure coda.
Ex. 4.5. Roberto Gerhard, “Canço d’un doble amor” from Verger de les
Galanies, meas. 1-3.
“Excelsior” is the second song belonging to Verger de les Galanies. In “Excelsior,”
Carner’s poem evokes the bucolic life amid the pine-covered mountains:
Una vall, una vall he deixada endarrera
amb ses cases adins la profonda verdor
on l'amor assolit tendrament persevera
sentint l'aigua quei va per mis camps d'abundor.
A valley, a valley I left behind
with six houses inside the profound green
where the love tenderly abides
feeling the water that passes my fields in abundance.
I volguè per un temps el racès temptador
dins la pau de la vall riolera.
I pode respirar la divina frescor
d'aquell porxo ignorant on la parra prospera.
And I wanted for the tempting time
within the peace of the valley.
And one can breathe the divine freshness
of that porch unaware that the grapes thrive.
Més tot just assegut el meu cor s'oprimia
i un llunyà fluviol cap amunt ni empenyia
O la sitja enlairant la blavor de son fum.
Above all calming my oppressed heart
and a distant flute up or pushed
Oh the silo sleeping off the blue smoke.
I segueixo altre cap mon carni solitari
i com duu a vostre cim jo no puc reposar-hi,
o muntanyes de pins coronades de llum.
And I follow another alone
and how it leads to your top I cannot stand it,
Oh mountains of pines crowned with light.
As with “Canço d’un doble amor,” Gerhard set “Excelsior” syllabically. The song is in the key of
G major. The piano provides harmony without doubling the melody. Again, the energetic piano
accompaniment remains juxtaposed against the lyrical vocal line. At moments, the piano
explores the extreme ranges of the instrument (see Musical Example 4.6). The musical form of
the art song is AbcA, the opening music and strophe of the song returns at the end, concluding
with a brief five-measure coda.
Ex. 4.6. Roberto Gerhard, “Excelsior” from Verger de les Galanies, meas. 26.
L’INFANTAMENT MERAVELLÓS DE SCHAHRAZADA, OP. 1 (1918)
Published by Unión Musical Española in 1918, L’infantament meravellós de Schahrazada
(The Wonderful Birth of Scheherazade) remains as Gerhard’s first opus. The Catalan song cycle
is composed in a late romantic style with its expanded harmonies and propensity for freer
chromaticism. For text, Gerhard utilized twelve poems by noucentisme poet Josep Maria LópezPicó (1886-1959) that relate to Scheherazade of the Arabian Nights. Furthermore, in place of
Italian or German expression markings, Gerhard employed Catalan. The Schahrazada cycle
premiered on 16 December 1917 at the Sala Bell Repòs in Barcelona, with soprano Mercè
Plantada de Colomer and Gerhard accompanying on piano. The work was performed again in
Barcelona with soprano Concepció Badia d’Agustí—Gerhard dedicated the song cycle to Badia
d’Agustí—and pianist Frederic Longàs on 22 January 1918 at the Palau de la Música Catalana.
“Les roses de les temples de l’amiga” opens with the expressive marking Temps mogut
però no massa viu (Agitated tempo but not too lively). In B major and duple meter, the song
begins with both voice and piano. The contour of the melody comprises of a series of
descending lines, of which the first occurs in measures 1-2 (see Musical Example 4.7). The
accompaniment consists largely of arpeggios. In three sections, the song is through-composed
outlining the three strophes of the poem, which Gerhard set syllabically.
I. Les roses de les temples de l’amiga…
Les roses de les temples de l’amiga
més roges són que els dàtils en raïms,
i la dolçor del bes que el bes obliga
més dolça que els més dolços regalims.
The roses wound about my fair one’s tresses
are redder than the dates in clustered reams,
and the sweetness of that kiss that prompts more kisses
is sweeter than the sweetest flowing streams.
Miracle de la llum, l’amiga és feta
de seda i perles, clara i transparent.
Si el cap decanta, en el seu braç, perfeta,
s’emmiralla la lluna del creixent.
A miracle of the light, the fair one’s fashioned
of silk and pearls, so limpid and so clear.
If she tilts her head, upon her arm the reflection
of the crescent-moon shines perfect there.
És com la flama dreta si es detura
i quan camina té de l’aigua el joc.
Dòcil com l’aigua, i sospirant i pura
i arboradora com el crit del foc.
Straight as a driven flame she’ll stand and wait
And when she walks, she’s full of water’s mirth.
Gentle as water, sighing, immaculate
And welcoming as fire-song on the hearth.
Ex. 4.7. Roberto Gerhard, “Les roses de les temples de l’amiga…” from L’infantament
meravellós de Schahrazada, meas. 1-2.
“Jove flautista” begins with the expressive marking Amb repòs i expression àgil (With
rest and dynamic expression). In G major and duple meter, the song opens with a one-measure
rising piano passage, evoking the flute. The soprano melody contains numerous repeated
pitches. The song includes whole-tone scales (see Musical Example 4.8). “Jove flautista” is
through-composed, intermittingly punctuated by the flute-like passage on the piano.
II. Jove flautista…
Jove flautista, amb el teu buf la canya
animes tu i li dónes esperit;
i la tonada mòbil s’acompanya
de la vivacitat de cada dit.
Young flutist, with your breath upon the cane
you will give it life and spirit;
and the quick tune accompanies
the vividness of each finger.
Bufa en mon cor.
Que s’ompli de ta vida!
Més que la canya et farà el cant sonor;
i un registre et serà cada ferida
on al joc dels teus dits sagni l’amor.
Blowing in my heart.
Fill it with your life!
More than cane will make the song sound;
and a register will be each wound
where to place your fingers of bleeding love.
Ex. 4.8. Roberto Gerhard, “Jove flautista…” from L’infantament meravellós de Schahrazada,
“Sota l’amplada del teu rostre” commences with the expressive marking Amb calma
(Calmly). In F-sharp major and triple meter, the song is through-composed, with a gradually
varying piano accompaniment. As in the previous song, the use of repeated pitches is pervasive
in the soprano melody, producing a monotone effect. The accompaniment consists of
rhythmically jagged ostinatos (see Musical Example 4.9) and block chords in the middle section.
The song concludes with a brief eight-measure piano postlude.
III. Sota l’amplada del teu rostre…
Sota l’amplada del teu rostre,
sembles un clar de lluna en nit feliç.
Ets la casa que el cel tingués per sostre
i el pleniluni esblanqueís.
Beneath the span of your face,
appears like the moonlight in a joyous night.
You are the house that heaven has for a ceiling
and the shame of the full moon.
A mí el desig em feia caminant,
i ara el desig, amor, detures,
ara que veig, del lluny, com fan
arcada de repòs tes celles pures.
For me, I desire walking
and now the desire, love, stopping,
now that I see, from far,
how to make your pure arched eyebrows.
Assedegada duc la vida
que al teu portal febrosament es ret.
Com una copa de cristall, convida
cada pit teu a sadollar la set.
Restless thirst of life
that yields up its fever at your door.
As a crystal cup, invites
each of your breasts to quench the thirst.
Ex. 4.9. Roberto Gerhard, “Sota l’amplada del teu rostre…” from L’infantament meravellós de
Schahrazada, meas. 1-3.
“Si els teus cabells són negres com la nit” begins with the expressive marking
Serenament i joiòs (Serenely and joyfully). In A-flat major and duple meter, the song has the
form of ABA with the opening strophe returning at the end. Repeated pitches again take place
frequently in the soprano melody. The habanera rhythm appears in the right hand piano
accompaniment (see Musical Example 4.10). The song opens and closes with four measures of
IV. Si els teus cabells són negres com la nit…
Si els teus cabells són negres com la nit,
If your hair is black as night,
és el teu front tan blanc que la il·lumina;
your face is so white that it illuminates;
adolescent, que al ròssec del vestit
adolescent, the trawling dress
duus polç d’estels i randes de boirina.
bunched lace and frills.
Mai no han vist els mortals amb els llurs ulls Mortals have never seen with their eyes
la festa que excel·lís la teva festa.
the celebration how excellent your celebrations.
Només de veure’t han quedat curulls
Just to see you have been overflowing
de l’espectacle de la teva vesta.
the decorativeness of your dress.
Ex. 4.10. Roberto Gerhard, “Si els teus cabells són negres com la nit…” from L’infantament
meravellós de Schahrazada, meas. 1-3.
“Perquè la por del soroll t’esgarrifa” begins with the expressive marking No gaire
depressa i suaument (Not very quickly and smoothly). In B major and duple meter, the song is
through-composed. Characteristic of the Schahrazada cycle, “Perquè la por del soroll
t’esgarrifa” contains repeated pitches in the soprano melody. The piano occasionally appears in
the high register and includes adjacent pitches that create moments of dissonance (see Musical
Example 4.11). The song concludes with a lengthy piano postlude.
V. Perquè la por del soroll t’esgarrifa…
Perquè la por del soroll t’esgarrifa
mon estimat viatger de la nit,
amb el vellut dels meus ulls la catifa
vull fer-te jo per menar-te al meu llit.
Because the fear of noise
my dear traveler of the night
with my velvet eyes will wrap
Like a rug I will lead you to my bed.
Ex. 4.11. Roberto Gerhard, “Perquè la por del soroll t’esgarrifa…” from L’infantament
meravellós de Schahrazada, meas. 13.
“El repòs del teu rull damunt del front” begins with the expressive marking Blanament
(Softly). In B-flat major and in 6/4 meter, the lyrical song is through-composed. Steady quarter
notes appear throughout (see Musical Example 4.12), and Gerhard explores the possibilities of
hemiola. The work also incorporates the whole-tone scale. The song opens and concludes with
lengthy piano solos.
VI. El repòs del teu rull damunt del front…
El repòs del teu rull damunt del front,
o cabellera bruna i ombrejada!,
és com la dolça harmonía del món
quan l’ala de la nit, oblit pregón,
reposa en la serena matinada.
The calm of your brow
or dark brown hair!,
is like the sweet harmony of the world
when the wing of the night, forgetting the oblivion,
rests in the calm morning.
Ex. 4.12. Roberto Gerhard, “El repòs del teu rull damunt del front…” from L’infantament
meravellós de Schahrazada, meas. 1-4.
“Jo t’he donat el meu cor” commences with the expressive marking Amb calma
(Calmly). In B minor and duple meter, the song is through-composed. The piano
accompaniment is primarily chordal. In addition, Gerhard employs the use of the whole-tone
scale (see Musical Example 4.13). The song concludes with a brief seven-measure piano
VII. Jo t’he donat el meu cor…
Jo t’he donat el meu cor
i tu en fas una joguina:
càntir d’olors amb pom d’or.
Si oblidessis que és de vidre,
I've given you my heart
and you make of it a toy:
perfume flask with a gold handle.
If you forget that is it made of glass,
Ex. 4.13. Roberto Gerhard, “Jo t’he donat el meu cor…” from L’infantament meravellós de
Schahrazada, meas. 21.
“Joc soc el vas del teu secret” commences with the expressive marking Ardentment
mogut (ardently moved). In B major and duple meter, the song is through-composed. The piano
accompaniment is the sparsest of all the Schahrazada cycle. The piece explores the contrast
between triple and duple rhythm (see Musical Example 4.14). A lengthy song within the cycle,
the song concludes with a brief seven-measure piano postlude.
VIII. Joc soc el vas del teu secret
Joc soc el vas del teu secret
(em deia)—diu l’enamorada;—
mai en la vida no et faré retret
de ta paraula que he servada.
I am the vessel of your secret
(she told me) say the enamoured, never in life I will make no reproach
For your word that I served.
Jo soc el vas de les ofrenes:
l’espera em torna transparent.
Mira en el fons, que van omplint les penes,
com són les llàgrimes ferment.
I am the vessel of your offerings:
the waiting makes me transparent.
Look deep, filling with,
such as the boiling tears.
Si un jorn la set et fes venir,
quan em tindràs arran dels llavis,
embriagar, amb el meu plor, de mí,
sabràs el gust del teus agravis.
If one day the thirst makes you come,
when our lips meet,
drunk with my tears, for me,
you will know the taste of your wrongs.
Ex. 4.14. Roberto Gerhard, “Joc soc el vas del teu secret” from L’infantament meravellós de
Schahrazada, meas. 1-3.
“Càntirs de vidre” opens with the expressive marking Llargament (largely). In B-flat
major and triple meter, the song is through-composed. The opening piano figure returns
throughout the piece (see Musical Example 4.15). Repeated pitches take place frequently in the
soprano melody. Furthermore, the speech-like character of the melody is due to the narrow
range of voice. The song commences with a brief two-measure piano prelude.
IX. Càntirs de vidre …
Càntirs de vidre, sospirs d’aire, noies,
venc, i almorratxes de cristall.
Ompliu-los d’aigua, que us faràn mirall
i al sol resplendiràn com joies.
Vidre i cristall com els pits vostres, noies!
Glass jars, sighs of air, girls
come and sell the finest crystal.
Fill them with water, that it makes like a mirror
and the sun shines like jewels.
Glass and crystal like your breasts, girls!
Ex. 4.15. Roberto Gerhard, “Càntirs de vidre …” from L’infantament meravellós de
Schahrazada, meas. 1-3.
“Igual que la mar fosforescent” begins with the expressive marking Apassionat
(Passionate). In G minor and duple meter, the song is compact and through-composed. The
piano serves a more important role, often overpowering the voice, often in triplets (see Musical
X. Igual que la mar fosforescent…
Igual que la mar fosforescent
cada nit enlluerna la tenebra,
tu enlluernes la febre
del meu desig, que el teu esguard encén.
Like the phosphorescent sea
dazzling darkness every night,
you confuse the fever
of my desire, that your eyes light up.
De la fulgor embriac, insospitada,
com gavina que perd l’esma del jorn,
jo cerco el meu sojorn
capbussant-me en la mar de ta mirada.
Of the glowing drunk, unexpected,
as the sea gull loses daylight,
I am looking for my way
Plunging into the sea of your gaze.
Ex. 4.16. Roberto Gerhard, “Igual que la mar fosforescent…” from L’infantament meravellós
de Schahrazada, meas. 1-3.
“Melodiós com entremig d’arbredes” commences with the expressive marking
Suaument mogut (Gently moved). In B-flat major and duple meter, the song is throughcomposed. The opening melody first appears in the piano. The piece utilizes folk-like
references, using drones of perfect fifths (see Musical Example 4.17). The melody moves in
disjunct motion, and the song contains both piano prelude and postlude.
XI. Melodiós com entremig d’arbredes…
Melodiós com entremig d’arbredes
passa entremig dels teus cabells l’oreig;
i, com damunt la mar, fa un bellugueig
damunt ton cos amb fregadís de sedes.
Melodious as in the midst of trees
happens between the parts of your hair;
and, on the sea, making a stir
rubbing upon your body like silk.
Ex. 4.17. Roberto Gerhard, “Melodiós com entremig d’arbredes…” from L’infantament
meravellós de Schahrazada, meas. 1-3.
“Enamorat incaut” begins with the expressive marking Febrosament mogut (Intensely
moving). In F-sharp minor and duple meter, the song is through-composed. Repeated pitches
occur throughout the sorrowful soprano melody. The piano accompaniment relies heavily on
the use of octaves (see Musical Example 4.18). The song commences and concludes with a
lengthy piano prelude and postlude.
XII. Enamorat incaut…
Enamorat incaut, has fet mal fet
de confiâ a les llàgrimes ta pena:
com la riuada que la pluja emplena,
corren i escampen el secret.
Unsuspecting lover, you have done wrong
thus revealing tears of pain:
like the flood that the rain fills ,
They overflow and spread the secret.
Ex. 4.18. Roberto Gerhard, “Enamorat incaut…” from L’infantament meravellós de
Schahrazada, meas. 1-3.
TRIO NO. 2 (1918)
Gerhard composed Trio No. 2 in 1918 and published the work with the French publisher
Éditions Maurice Senart in 1921. Gerhard dedicated his second published work to his teacher
Felipe Pedrell.31 On 2 March 1922, the Trio de Barcelona, consisting of Ricard Vives (piano),
Marián Perelló (violin), and J. Pere Marés (cello), premiered Gerhard’s second piano trio for the
Associació de Música “Da Camera” de Barcelona at the Palau de la Música Catalana.
In the published score, Gerhard writes “Al meu caríssim mestre Felip Pedrell.”
The piano trio consists of three movements: Modéré, Très calme, and Vif. The trio
demonstrates that Gerhard had assimilated French music, in particular that of Maurice Ravel,
especially in the first two movements. The first movement, marked Modéré and in A-flat major,
displays harmonic planing (see Musical Example 4.19). Vicents Maria de Gibert observed that
the opening was evocative of medieval organum.32
Ex. 4.19. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no 2, mvt. I, meas. 1-2.
Parts of Gerhard’s trio share striking resemblance to Ravel’s 1914 Trio (see Musical Examples
4.20 and 4.21); the same asymmetrical rhythms make it clear that Ravel’s Trio served as its
Ex. 4.20. Maurice Ravel, Trio, movement. I, meas. 1.
Concert program, Vicents Maria de Gibert, Associacó de música da camera, Palau de la Música, 2 March 1922.
Ex. 4.21. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no 2, movement. I, meas. 134.
An energetic movement, Gerhard employs shifting meters and develops the dotted-rhythm
figure throughout (see Musical Examples 4.22 and 4.23).
Ex. 4.22. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no 2, movement. I, meas. 1-2.
Ex. 4.23. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no 2, movement. I, meas. 65-68.
Discussing the music of Gerhard’s second movement, as early as 1922, Vicents Maria de
Gibert commented that the Catalan composer blended traditional (Catalan) and Modern
…look especially at the second movement…an articulation so loose and so complete in
significance, of real personal inspiration while at the same time with aspects that evoke
our folk songs. Are we not able to say in praise of Gerhard—linking two terms perhaps
paradoxical—that he is a “cosmopolitan” Catalan?33
Ibid. “…vegi-s especialment el del segon temps (Exemple VII), d’una articulació tant folgada i d’una significació
tan complerta, d’inspiració ben personal i alhora amb caients que remembren les nostres cançons populars. ¿No
podriem dir en elogi d’En Gerhard—acoblant dos termes tal vegada paradoxals—que és un «Weltbürger» català?”
In the slow second movement, Gerhard continued to employ planing and the triplet figure is
prominently featured (see Musical Example 4.22). In the key of C-sharp major, the second
movement ends with an ambiguous perfect fifth.
Ex. 4.24. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no 2, movement. II, meas. 1-3.
Following the conventional fast-slow-fast scheme, the trio concludes with an energetic
last movement. As is common with Gerhard’s writing for piano, he often explores the extreme
registers of the keyboard instrument. In character with the rest of the trio, the last movement
contains numerous metric shifts and explores numerous keys. As with the second movement,
the last movement ends ambiguously; the third movement cadences on a quartal harmony
centered on the pitch G-sharp.
Ex. 4.25. Roberto Gerhard, Trio no 2, movement. III, meas. 1-4.
Years later, Gerhard would deviate from his French-inspired works, breaking from a long
Spanish tradition. Writing to Schoenberg about Trio No. 2, Gerhard revealed “my Trio, a work
which was written during the shallowest period of my life. Or, on the contrary, you may
understand it straightaway from that piece.”34
DOS APUNTS (1921-2)
Gerhard’s Dos apunts (Two Sketches) bears a resemblance to the piano miniatures of
Schoenberg’s Op. 19 (1911). Completed in the months of December 1921 and March 1922,
Gerhard’s Dos apunts are diminutive in length and consist each of fourteen measures, and are
marked by slow tempos and soft dynamics. Creating an impression of atonality, Dos apunts are
highly chromatic and use non-traditional harmonies within sparse textures. The works display
tight formal compression, and Gerhard’s piano miniatures arise organically through rhythmic
and melodic development. He utilizes all twelve pitches of the chromatic aggregate in the two
Roberto Gerhard to Arnold Schoenberg, 21 October 1923, Cambridge University Library.
piano miniatures; however, Gerhard employs tonal references in the work. Of organic design,
he develops motives and constructs thematic unity throughout each movement.
Gerhard chose to apply the expressive marking in Catalan Sense rigor (without
strictness) and selected a slow tempo of 55-66 b.p.m. to the quarter note for the opening
miniature. In the first movement, the right and left hand clearly have different musical
functions. The right hand contains the melody while the left hand serves to provide the
accompaniment. Opening with balanced phrasing, the first movement begins with two parallel
periods. Ultimately, the phrasing develops into irregular lengths, crossing bar lines and forming
elisions. The initial melody and motive consists of a Phrygian trichord and pitch-class set [0,1,3].
The melody appears rhythmically straightforward with slight ornamentation. The opening two
measures form a parallel period, which organically develops into another parallel period
consisting of a chromatic trichord and pitch-class set [0,1,2]. The next variation retains the pitch
A-flat and consists of the pitch-class set [0,1,3] with the phrase gradually growing in length by a
beat, crossing the bar line and displacing the entrance of the next phrase. Another variation
follows, and the symmetry of the work is maintained ultimately by an abridged restatement of
The pitch G emphasized in the opening measures now only serves as a pedal point. At
measure eight, the pitch-class set of this longest phrase consists of the pentachord [0, 1, 3, 7,
8]. The following pitch-class sets are [0, 1, 3, 7], [0, 1, 3, 5], [0, 1, 3], and [0, 1, 3, 5, 8]. In
measure eleven, the pitch-class set [0, 1, 3] appears in diminution on the fourth beat. The
movement eventually cadences on the pitch C, highlighted in octaves.
The accompaniment primarily consists of tritones in an ostinato pattern. For seven
measures, to exactly the midpoint of the composition, the accompaniment consists of E-flat
and A with an occasional E natural. After the midpoint, the ostinato comprises of two tritones:
B-flat / E and C / F-sharp. At measure nine, the ostinato includes a perfect fifth with an
occasional tritone. The opening accompaniment returns for the penultimate measure, signaling
a return and providing a formal ending.
The second movement is much more complex in rhythm and meter than the first miniature. In
the brief movement, multiple tempo changes occur; the eighth note pulse shifts between metronome
markings of 72 and 88 b.p.m. to the eighth note. In addition, constant meter changes take place in the
work. The principal motive of the work consists of notes that comprise the pitch-class set [0, 1, 3, 4, 6].
In the opening, the right hand is melodic and a drone occurs in the left hand. The second movement
commences with a triplet figure consisting of large leaps followed by a subsequent phrase forming a
parallel period with a cadence—a tetrachord comprised of a major sixth and minor sixth separated by a
tritone. The second movement swiftly explores textural possibilities in fourteen measures. Eventually
polyphonic exchanges transpire in the right and left hands, and ultimately culminating with both parts
moving homorhythmically. The piano work concludes with the melody in the inner voice.
In the second movement, Gerhard quotes El Cotiló, a Catalan folksong (see Musical
Examples 4.26 and 4.27); however, it is not used in its entirety nor with its original rhythms
maintained. Apparently of personal importance to Gerhard, the Catalan composer used the
folksong El Cotiló in Six Catalan Folksongs (1928), Cantata (1932), Albada, Interludi i Danza
(1936), Pedrelliana (1941), and his Fourth Symphony (1967). The folk song melody displays
chromatic inflections applicable for use in highly chromatic and atonal music.
Ex. 4.26. Roberto Gerhard, Dos apunts, movement II, meas. 3-5.
Ex. 4.27. Roberto Gerhard, “El Cotiló” from Six Catalan Folksongs, meas. 1-5.
SEPT HAI-KAI (1923)
The Sept hai-kai reflects the influences of Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg
upon the young Gerhard searching for a modernist voice. Direct contrasts occur between the
vocal and instrumental sections consisting of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and piano, the
instrumental portions framing the text as well as musically embodying the haiku. Gerhard
selected seven haiku from a larger collection of the Catalan poet Josep Maria Junoy’s Amour et
Paysage (1920). The haiku are in French; however, the title page of the poetry claims that the
poems were “traduit du catalan.” No evidence exists that the haiku were indeed translated
from Catalan to French; however, it implies the attached importance of having the poems
originally conceived in Catalan. Primarily set syllabically, the vocal parts are also generally
narrow in range and non-lyrical. Sketches of the first, second, third, and sixth haiku vocal
melodies survive, and demonstrate how Gerhard initially conceived the melodies.35 Gerhard
maintained all the pitches of the sketches in the final versions, choosing instead to alter their
rhythms, which in general became more complex. None of the movements are atonal, although
they are highly chromatic at moments. The seven haiku were a set of miniatures that explored
the possibilities of this Japanese poetic genre.
The first haiku is in duple meter and consists solely of 33 measures, opening with an
extremely slow tempo of Molto tranquillo. Instrumental sections frame its two vocal segments.
The movement is highly chromatic, and employs flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, voice, and
piano.36 An arpeggio in the piano opens the movement, and the piano serves as a drone in
fifths, a folk-like reference. Above the drone, the woodwinds move as a block in perfect fifths,
almost presenting all twelve pitches sequentially. The vocal melody that accompanies the
bucolic text of the haiku spans a major sixth and displays rhythmic activity that slowly opens
and closes the melody.
au milieu de la prairie verte
une vache tachetée
aux mamelles roses
in the middle of the green meadow
a spotted cow,
with pink udders.
The second instrumental section also begins with a piano arpeggio, then a drone in fifths with
the woodwinds moving in blocks. As in the first vocal section, the piano provides sparse
accompaniment with sustained drones. While the early sketch and final version share the same
melodic shape, rhythmically the two melodies vary considerably (see Musical Examples 4.30
The sketches are housed at the Arxiu Robert Gerhard in Valls, Spain.
In the 1969 published version of Sept hai-kai, the voice is scored for either soprano or baritone.
Ex. 4.30. Roberto Gerhard, Sept hai-kai, movement I, sketch.
Ex. 4.31. Roberto Gerhard, Sept hai-kai, movement I, meas. 9-26.
In the instrumental postlude, the piano and woodwinds move as a homorhythmic block,
concluding the movement with a solo piano arpeggio and drone.
An instrumental prelude and abridged postlude frame the vocal section of the second
haiku. Marked Scoriévole (flowing), the fluid music emulates water, making reference to the
poetry of Junoy.
j’ai caressé ta flottante chevelure de cressons bleus I caressed your floating hair of blue watercresses
d’une main pure
of a pure hand,
ô clair ruisseau!
oh clear stream!
In quadruple meter, the diminutive movement consists of only nineteen measures. It opens
with an ostinato in the piano outlining triads, and continues throughout the haiku; above the
piano, the flute and clarinet move in thirds. A pedal on the pitch A in the piano sounds
throughout the movement. The vocal melody uses seven pitches and spans the range of a
minor seventh. The opening portion of the vocal melody does not deviate from Gerhard’s
sketch, only altering the rhythm of the latter segment of the melody (see Musical Examples
4.32 and 4.33). The movement concludes with an abridged version of the prelude. The haiku
ends with the pitches C and C-sharp.
Ex. 4.32. Roberto Gerhard, Sept hai-kai, movement II, sketch.
Ex. 4.33. Roberto Gerhard, Sept hai-kai, movement II, meas. 7-15.
Relatively more dissonant, instrumental sections frame the three vocal portions of the
third haiku. The movement begins with a rising triplet figure in the clarinet that is imitated by
the flute; the piano functions as a pedal point. Marked con moto, increased rhythmic activity
eventually takes place in all the instrumental parts in the movement. The leaps in the triplet
and quintuplet figures possibly emulate the fireflies mentioned in the haiku.
sous les lucioles
j’ai pompé dans tes lèvres une salive
under the glow of fireflies
I sucked from your lips a saliva
The vocal melody uses eight pitches, and spans a major ninth. In addition, the melody contains
leaps and repeated notes. The piano drops out during the vocal section, and the bassoon serves
as a countermelody. The vocal melody in Gerhard’s sketch appears to be constructed of two
phrases; however, in the published version the melody is in three parts and gradually becomes
rhythmically elongated (see Musical Examples 4.34 and 4.35). Primarily in triple meter—with
the exception of a single measure in duple—the movement is 35 measures in length. The
movement concludes with a triplet figures in the piccolo, oboe, clarinet, and piano.
Ex. 4.34. Roberto Gerhard, Sept hai-kai, movement III, sketch.
Ex. 4.35. Roberto Gerhard, Sept hai-kai, movement III, meas. 9-26.
A juxtaposition of meters—simple quadruple, compound quadruple and simple triple—
occurs in the fourth haiku. In this movement marked Allegretto and of 39 measures, the
instrumental sections frame the two vocal segments. The prelude opens with quintuplet figures
in both the clarinet and piano. The piano serves as an ostinato on a diminished triad; the
piccolo, oboe, clarinet and bassoon move as a block at dissonant intervals, in particular the
tritone. The piccolo and oboe include a whole-tone scale. Gerhard chose to set the text of the
fourth poem with a vocal part with a narrow range in an almost recitational manner.
qui glisses sur mon coeur
comme le reflet de la lune sur un lac sombre
that whispers on my heart
like the reflection of the moon on a gloomy lake
The instrumental interlude resembles the opening. In the second restatement of the vocal
melody, the range extends to the narrow span of a minor third. In addition, Gerhard alters the
rhythm, applying triplets. The haiku concludes with a duet between the oboe and bassoon,
ultimately involving all the instruments of the ensemble.
The miniature and sparse fifth haiku consists of 25 measures and omits the flute and
oboe, aptly portraying the poetry.
ourlée de noir
au fond de mon cocktail d’oubli
at the far end of my cocktail of oblivion.
Marked Tranquillo and in simple quadruple meter, Gerhard employed the low registrar of
clarinet and bassoon as well as the voice in the movement. The haiku opens with a duet
between the bassoon and clarinet; the voice, in a narrow range, and the piano, serving as a
drone, eventually enter with the counterpoint of the two woodwinds. In addition the narrow
vocal range, the melody only employs four pitches. The fifth haiku concludes abruptly with a
descending passage in clarinet and dissonant drone in the piano.
The highly chromatic sixth haiku is 40 measures in length, and juxtaposes simple and
compound quadruple meters. Principally constructed of ostinatos in the instrumental parts that
are maintained throughout the movement, the haiku, marked Un poco vivace, sets the musical
background for the text.
sous la pluie d’été
je marche fredonnant par la route de platanes
oublieux de ma peine
during the rain of summer
I walk humming by the sycamore road
forgetful of my sorrow
The vocal melody uses eleven pitches and marks the endings of phrases are marked with longer
note values. In the final version, the f-double sharp receives more importance than the earlier
sketch (see Musical Examples 4.36 and 4.37). In contrast to the other haiku, the vocal sections
of movement VI are not framed by instruments; rather, the instrumental section functions as a
Ex. 4.36. Roberto Gerhard, Sept hai-kai, movement VI, meas. 9-26.
Ex. 4.37. Roberto Gerhard, Sept hai-kai, movement VI, meas. 9-26.
The last haiku, marked Larghetto, is the longest of the seven movements, consisting of
50 measures. In simple duple meter and employing all the instruments, in the final movement
Gerhard uses the instrumental sections to frame the vocal portions. The instrumental sections
consist of ostinatos and the development of cells. The pastoral text primarily takes place over
drones, placing the poetry to the forefront.
mais en exil
à quoi bon cette fleur cet insecte
but in exile
what good is this flower this insect
Both the instrumental sections and vocal melody center on the pitch A-flat. The vocal melody
spans a major sixth and employs five pitches.
Gerhard’s music from this period reflects elements of Catalan nationalism with the use
of Catalan poetry and traditional music. In addition, the works composed by Gerhard related to
his study with Pedrell demonstrate that the young composer overcame the naivety works of his
earlier youth; however, Gerhard remained unsatisfied with his own music, and unsure of his
musical direction. After failing in his attempts to study with Falla, Gerhard would eventually
seek out a new direction outside Spain once again, eventually studying with Arnold Schoenberg.
CHAPTER 5: STUDY WITH ARNOLD SCHOENBERG
SCHOENBERG: VIENNA & BERLIN
Reflecting on one of the most innovative and controversial composers of the twentieth
century, Gerhard characterized Schoenberg as “[t]he man who revolutionized contemporary
music” that “was nothing of a revolutionary himself.”1 The Catalan composer became a pupil of
Schoenberg in 1923, accompanied the Viennese master to Berlin in 1924, and arranged for
Schoenberg’s extended stay in Barcelona in 1931.2 Profoundly familiar with Schoenberg as both
a man and composer, Gerhard portrayed his teacher’s formidable personality in an essay
written around the time of Schoenberg’s death, stating that “he was an intimidating person to
meet, and on each occasion one literally had to brace oneself up to it.” 3 Belonging to the
Schoenbergian circle, Gerhard was not alone in feeling a sense of awe around the Viennese
Many years later it came as an amusing discovery and as a relief to hear that even Alban
Berg had never quite been able to shake off that awesome feeling Schoenberg inspired,
although their relationship had for a long time been that of devoted intimate friends
rather than that of master and disciple.4
Furthermore, Gerhard stated that his former master possessed a personality that “was
somewhat overpowering. His manner was not exactly engaging, in the social sense, but very
Roberto Gerhard, “Schoenberg Reminiscences,” Perspectives of New Music 13 (1975): 57.
In the introduction of Gerhard’s essay "Schoenberg Reminiscences" published in Perspectives of New Music (Vol.
13, No. 2., 1975), Hilary Tann erroneously states that Gerhard and Schoenberg first met in 1922; the two
composers actually first met in 1923.
Roberto Gerhard, “Schoenberg Reminiscences,” 62. According to Hilary Tann, Gerhard’s essay "Schoenberg
Reminiscences," which was encountered among Gerhard’s papers at the time of his death, dates from around
much so in the other, the challenging sense of the word.”5 The former student, speculating on
the source of Schoenberg’s character, recorded that “[o]ne realised, of course, that the long
years of fierce antagonism and denigration of his work had hardened the man and must have
overdeveloped his combative instincts.”6
On 21 October 1923, Gerhard composed an anguished letter to Schoenberg, requesting
to become his pupil. In the letter, Gerhard mentioned his despair as well as his tentativeness in
writing to the Austrian master; however, encouragement from a letter from Paul Stefan, a
student of Schoenberg, galvanized the Catalan composer to write the 1923 request. Gerhard
began the letter describing his angst:
I really do not know where I can find the courage, in my spiritual depression, to turn to
you, if not from the belief of finding advice, in your artistry and deep humanity, which
will bring me greater self-enlightenment than any further despair might achieve. I have
hesitated for a long time, tormented by doubt, before taking this step.7
In addition to the letter, Gerhard sent two works: Dos apunts (1921-22) and Sept hai-kai (1922).
Not seeking appraisal of his music, he instead put in writing his personal impasse, seeking
advice as well as inquiring if Vienna would suit his needs:
What I should like to dare now is simply to send you some of my music and to tell you
the essential circumstances of my intellectual and moral crisis. Then I should like to ask
you to give me the great benefit of your advice; I do not say primarily your judgment of
my music: I have long condemned it myself, indeed, it would hardly be necessary to add
how it torments and shames me! But to hear a word from you, in my chaotic state of
mind, which would help me to find a solution, that is what I should like to hope for. And
then to know whether I can find in Vienna the sure hand of a master, and the artistic
and human community which will meet my true needs, and for which I have a burning
Homs, Robert Gerhard and His Music, 91.
He informed Schoenberg that he sought to improve his musical knowledge and review his
previous work, despairingly leaving Barcelona for the isolation of his birthplace of Valls, Spain:
What I think I must tell you about myself is as follows: The determination to acquire a
thorough musical education, to revise the whole of my earlier, careless musical output,
and to gain a firm, thought-out basis for my further development led me, two years ago,
to decide to flee the city and my circle of friends, and to shut myself up here in the
country (where I was born) in hermetic isolation.9
Situated within the interior of the province of Tarragona, the rural town of Valls provided the
seclusion that the composer sought.
Gerhard asserted in the letter that his “inner uneasiness” began after World War I. He
informed Schoenberg that he decided to educate himself, after previously considering study in
France or Germany: “The thought of finding discipline in Paris or Germany had long engaged
me; but finally my self-confidence won out: I would help myself!”10 Agonized, Gerhard wrote
that his approach to music composition resembled more of that of an amateur than a trained
artist, explaining that his method of composition resembled improvisation resulting in works
without any formal structure:
The extreme inadequacy, the fractured nature of my musical education have already
long tormented me, since forever! My spontaneous, completely unreflective approach
to composition irked my conscience: I no longer saw any difference between that and
naive dilettantism. Composing at the piano, and from a formal standpoint, improvising,
seemed basically immoral to me. I had not learnt to think harmonically. I had not
studied form at all: for me it always became rhapsodic. I wanted to muster all my
powers against these two failings, with particular emphasis on the first. 11
Gerhard revealed in the letter that he sought a formal music education—unattainable in Spain
at that period.
He remorsefully explained that “I was 24 years old; behind me were eight years in which
I should have enjoyed a normal musical education, if only the war had not thrown all my plans
out of the window.” Gerhard continued by providing Schoenberg with a history of his musical
education. At age sixteen, Gerhard began his musical training with Hugo Strauss in Lausanne,
Switzerland. Lasting only six months, the lessons consisted of working through E.F. Richter's
book on harmony. After Lausanne, Gerhard attended the Munich Academy of Music, studying
piano with Karl Roesger, attending choral courses, and taking private counterpoint lessons with
Walter Courvoisier; however, World War I caused Gerhard to only remain in Germany for only
four months. Gerhard returned to Spain in 1914, and he waited for the end of the war. In 1916
he went to Barcelona and studied with Felipe Pedrell. Gerhard returned to Valls and briefly
halted his composition of music, instead, deciding “to plug the gaps in my education with iron
diligence.”12 Making reference to Robert Schumann’s poor judgment in injuring his right hand,
Gerhard compared his mindset to the legendary German composer, adding that he was making
no progress in his development as a composer:
My mental state during this time may have closely resembled that of Schumann while
he was pursuing intensive finger-exercises. I wanted to recover lost ground at full speed
and power, only gradually realizing how much time had disappeared—how often I reinvented the wheel—and that I actually only really learned from making errors. And
then, which perhaps upset and hindered me most: the ever sharper, more painful
understanding of my endless ignorance and the unrestrained urge to catch up on
everything all at once; the dissipation of my few powers on an ever expanding front. 13
During this period, Gerhard studied diverse subject matter such as the modulation exercises
from Schoenberg’s Harmonielehre, J.S. Bach’s counterpoint and inventions from Ernst Kurth’s
Grundlagen des linearen Kontrapunkts, the string quartets of Beethoven, Wagner’s Tristan und
Isolde, Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire, and Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps, as well as music
history, acoustics, and literature. In the letter, he revealed to Schoenberg his thoughts on
studying in Paris, implying that his published piano trio reflects the wrong musical direction:
For some time, I thought of going to Paris. The city attracts me very much, but the
impressionist, decorative technique which I could learn with [Charles] Koechlin is no
longer what would fully satisfy me. I can no longer be tempted to try and discover my
identity sous l'influence conjugée de Stravinsky et de Ravel.14 That will perhaps surprise
you with regard to my Trio, a work which was written during the shallowest period of
my life. Or, on the contrary, you may understand it straightaway from that piece. 15
He expressed in his correspondence with Schoenberg of his interest in German and modernist
music, believing that he has an affinity towards Germanic music. He reiterated his misgivings
about Parisian music, preferring the possibilities of Vienna:
I know extremely little of the most recent German music and of the “Moderns.” I could
not say, therefore, why I still feel so particularly drawn by the German manner. Perhaps
I am getting all my terms confused. I am frightened, in Paris, of being carried away with
a superficial empirical technique, and without having addressed my fundamental
inadequacies, although this new land attracts me very much. Instead of this however, I
should like innermost composure, well-planned preparation, intellectual foundations,
mental mastery of my means, i.e. to receive classical discipline and the deepest
meditation upon and understanding of the Classics at the hands of the purest traditional
source. I believe I would find in Vienna, near to you, within your circle, perhaps the most
suitable conditions for the fulfillment of my wishes.16
Thanking Schoenberg, Gerhard ended the letter by also apologizing for his German as well as
for its sentimental contents: “I must sincerely ask for your forgiveness, however, for having put
you to the trouble of reading these impetuous outpourings of my heart, and express my endless
gratitude to you for it, along with heartfelt, fervent respect and admiration.” 17
“under the joint influence of Stravinsky and Ravel”
On 4 November 1923, Schoenberg responded to Gerhard’s desperate letter.
Commenting on Gerhard’s two compositions, Dos apunts and Sept haiku, Schoenberg wrote
that “I have no time to look into your compositions more closely. But a fleeting glance and your
letter give me a very good impression.”18 The Austrian composer also informed Gerhard of his
policy of accepting composition students, writing “[f]rankly: the final decision whether I take
someone on as a pupil usually depends on the personal impression I get of him.”19 Schoenberg
asked Gerhard to come to Vienna; however, reassuring him that “I think I am certain to accept;
and I also think I shall be able to help you a bit, since I understand your depression.”20
Much later in an essay written around the time of Schoenberg’s death, Gerhard recalled
his first meeting with the Austrian composer. Gerhard met Schoenberg in person for the first
time in Mödling, Austria in 1923, and in the aforementioned essay he reminisced about his
anxiety as well as their unforgettable first encounter:
I remember the state of trepidation in which I went down to Mödling for my first
interview. I had rung the bell, the door opened, and before I knew what was happening I
felt the thrust of a huge dog who had leapt at me and planted its paws on my chest. In
the back—just a little shorter than the dog on its hind legs—I could see Schoenberg
standing, short, stocky, a bronzed face with dark burning eyes, a Roman emperor's
head. I don't think I shall ever forget that dog. It was a formidable looking fellow, yet in
reality it was an incredibly gentle creature. Somehow I have never been able to
dissociate Schoenberg from his dog in that first impression.21
In addition to their first encounter, Schoenberg’s home was also the site for other vivid
Arnold Schoenberg to Roberto Gerhard, October 21, 1923.
Gerhard, “Schoenberg Reminiscences,” 62.
At a Saturday afternoon party for friends and students at Schoenberg’s home in
Mödling, involving tea and performances of chamber music, Gerhard recalled an instant that he
characterized as “one of the most horribly awkward moments in [his] life.” In attendance that
day was Anton Webern, Alban Berg, Rudolf Kolisch, Clara Steuermann, several other pupils of
Schoenberg, and perhaps Fritz Rothschild.22 The topic of conversation switched to the sharp
criticism of Stravinsky, leading to Gerhard’s discomfiture when:
suddenly Schoenberg turned to me—who had not been dreaming of opening my
mouth—and asked my opinion. It took me completely off my guard and I was thrown
into considerable confusion, linguistic and otherwise. I don't remember what I said. I
only know that I must have fumbled most wretchedly, but I spoke up for Stravinsky.
There was a long, embarrassed, agonising silence. I was stunned myself. I felt as if I had
been using bad language in polite society. If the Danube had happened to flow under
the wide-open window of that room, I am sure I could not have resisted the temptation.
Schoenberg broke the silence; he took up his viola and they sat down to play, I think it
was a Haydn Quartet. Then a most unexpected thing happened: Schoenberg got up and
went to the library, he took out the miniature score of the Haydn and came over and
offered it to me with a smile and an expression of kindness I shall never forget. He
would never know that at that moment he had saved my life.23
The works of Stravinsky remained as an influence on Gerhard—before, during, and after his
study with Schoenberg.
Schoenberg was radically unlike any of Gerhard’s previous mentors:
As a teacher he was unique. The fact that he was a difficult man was, again, not simply a
matter of idiosyncracy one might justifiably have deplored and wished it had been
different, but it was almost the essence of his method; it made him precisely the kind of
teacher he was.24
Gerhard described the teaching methodology of Schoenberg as “Il faut décourager les arts”
which “seemed to be his ruling pedagogical principle,” writing that “his method was something
like this: shake your man thoroughly and mercilessly out of complacency, make everything as
hard as possible for him, pile up the obstacles, let him get himself into real trouble, and see
whether he survives.”25 As a teacher and of his ability to impart his honed compositional skills,
Gerhard wrote that “[h]e would never attempt simply to tell you what he knew but rather to
find out and show you what you didn't know. He had no use for text-book rules or aesthetics.
His only claim was to be a craftsman who could teach you his craft.”26 Gerhard summarized his
study with Schoenberg as “the perfect illustration of the relationship between mastercraftsman and apprentice, which was the basis of his teaching.”27
In Vienna, Gerhard studied privately with Schoenberg, allowing for personal insights into
the art of composition:
During lessons Schoenberg talked a good deal, rationalising everything that could
possibly be rationalised, trying all the time to go to the heart of the matter and show
you what to expect there, what to look for. Sometimes he would say, "I'll just show
you." He would take pencil and paper and start sketching whatever it was he wanted to
show. No word was spoken then, one just looked on. It was in this way that I had some
of the greatest and most vividly illuminating experiences with Schoenberg as a
Gerhard provided insight into the compositional process of Schoenberg, revealing that even his
teacher struggled with his own innovations:
I remember that analysing his Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11—one of his first
“revolutionary" works—he once pointed out how often he had had to pause in the very
act of writing down some of the more unusual sound-combinations, startled at the
radicalism of his own spontaneous thought and, rubbing out, tried to take off the edge
and tone the thing down, only to find, on re-reading his work the next day, that there
was something palpably "wrong" in the passages thus emended, and that they would
only sound "right" when he was able to restore the first notation.29
Observing Schoenberg compose, Gerhard was in awe of the compositional process of
Schoenberg that unfolded before his eyes:
It was fascinating to watch how his mind worked, the amazing speed and even flow of
thought; to observe the occasional hesitations or corrections, suddenly to realise the
reason for the correction and how many draws ahead he had been thinking; to be able
to follow with one's one eyes the actual morphogenetical process and sequence of
events; to see how the thing grew; the order in which the various elements appeared,
their interplay, their repercussions and metamorphosis; in short, the teamwork of
chance, choice, and deliberation. It was a breathtaking adventure. Suddenly an entirely
new dimension seemed to open up. It is hard to describe, because the experience does
not seem to belong to the sphere of words or concepts any longer.30
The Viennese period of Gerhard’s study with Schoenberg permitted the Catalan composer
extraordinary insight into the compositional process of the Austrian master.
After the death of Ferruccio Busoni in 27 July 1924, Schoenberg soon secured the
prestigious teaching position at the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin.31 Momentarily, the
position provided prestige as well as sanctuary, as it was to be a lifetime appointment and
represented, for the first time in his life, financial security. Gerhard followed Schoenberg to
Berlin; the Catalan composer remembers the Berlin of his early youth and recalls the city that
he then encountered with Schoenberg:
The Berlin of the middle Twenties hardly bore any resemblance to the topsy-turvy Berlin
of the postwar years and the crazy inflation, when the underworld sat at the West End
Cafes and the population of the Reich's capital seemed to consist mainly of spivs.32 From
the squalid, catastrophic city of those chaotic years Berlin had become a brilliant
metropolis, almost overnight, with characteristically German powers of recovery. For a
brief period stretching from the middle Twenties to the seizure of power by the Nazis,
Joan Allen Smith, Schoenberg and His Circle: A Viennese Portrait (New York: Schirmer, 1986), 226.
According Joan Allen Smith, the success of his teaching post in Berlin led to a more confident Schoenberg that
confined more to his small circle of students.
Spiv, British slang for “hustler.”
Berlin was a cultural center of the world. Even Paris looked a little dim by comparison
According to Gerhard, the city of Berlin was unsurpassed musically.34 Berlin was the site for
numerous important premières; Gerhard cited Alban Berg's Wozzeck and chamber concerto,
Darius Milhaud's Christophe Colomb, Leoš Janáček's From the House of The Dead, Schoenberg's
Erwartung, Die glückliche Hand, Variations for Orchestra, and the Accompaniment to a
Cinematographic Scene, Bartók's second piano concerto, as well as Stravinsky's violin concerto
and Oedipus Rex. 35 In addition to European art music, Gerhard recorded that jazz impacted
musical life in Berlin, naming ragtime, foxtrot, blues, and the Charleston.36
Gerhard enjoyed the changes that took place resulting from the move from Vienna to
Berlin.37 Members of the Academy often received complimentary tickets to concerts; however,
it was through Gerhard’s friendship with a Spanish dignitary that Gerhard received
opportunities to attend concert life in Berlin. Nevertheless, free tickets came at a cost, as
Personally I had the good luck to make friends with an extraordinary personage at the
Spanish Embassy, Colonel Valdivia, who was most popular in Berlin society circles and
was known to everybody as "Herr Musik Attaché." A constant visitor at the house of the
famous Berlin hostess Frau Louise Wolf, of the concert agency Wolf & Sachs, the Colonel
always had plenty of complimentary tickets and I was dragged along everywhere. In
return I had to go home with him after shows and act as his patient audience into the
small hours, while the Colonel performed exuberantly on an electric pianola. 38
Gerhard, “Schoenberg Reminiscences,” 59.
In Berlin, the Catalan composer was a member of the Meisterklasse at the Academy,
and he recalled that friction existed between undergraduates at Charlottenburg Hochschule für
Musik and the members of the Meisterklasse, the latter feeling superior. Gerhard recollected
that the students at the Hochschule referred to those in the master class as die Meistersinger
von Schönberg.39 In addition to feelings of superiority associated with being a member of the
master class, further benefits existed with the change of venue. In Berlin, students met
Schoenberg in group settings, resulting in less stressful encounters with the master: “It was
certainly less of a nervous strain to meet him in the Berlin Meisterklasse corporately, as it werethan it had been to meet him individually, en tête-à-tête, as a private pupil in Vienna.”40
Schoenberg’s teaching method in Berlin differed from Vienna, becoming more academic
in style and consisting of lectures.41 According to Gerhard, the Meisterklasse consisted of a
series of talks employing works selected from the German canon:
He would pace up and down the room and expound the subject which would be
developed in a whole series of lectures, and also give indications as to the work he
expected us to do. Every point would be abundantly illustrated and exemplified with
passages or entire works taken from a repertoire ranging roughly from Bach to
Schoenberg rarely utilized modern works for analysis, and insisted on teaching composition
along classic models. In fact, as Gerhard suggested, “Anyone who would have come to him
asking to be taught how to write ‘modern’ music would probably have been roundly
dismissed.”43 Moreover, on the subject of Schoenberg’s musical idiom, Gerhard wrote that
“Least of all would he expect us to write in his own style or try to imitate him. Anyone who did
try would have to be prepared for an extra severe scrutiny.44 Nevertheless, composition
students of Schoenberg were free to choose their personal musical language; on this subject,
Gerhard remembered that “In our own work, however, we were by no means supposed to copy
the classics or to do pastiche work. Everyone could use his own idiom (if he had any of his own)
or adopt whatever manner he chose. Matters of idiom would hardly ever be the subject of
criticism with him.”45 Many years later, Gerhard reminisced with the American composer Marc
Blitzstein about Berlin, calling himself a “non-conformist” or a “Schoenberguian despite
How well I do remember our Berlin days, what a couple we made, you and I, you (at that
time) the anti-Schoenberguian, or the very reluctant Schoenberguian, and I, the nonconformist, or the Schoenberguian malgré moi. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, but that’s
how I remember it; anyway, the two recalcitrants in the fold.46
The musical legacy of Schoenberg has impacted enormously the music of the twentieth
century; however, the Austrian composer held trepidations about the dogmatic application of
his ideas, such as his twelve-tone technique or having others attempt to replicate his music.
Speculating on Schoenberg’s intentions, Gerhard wrote that “[t]here is no doubt that if the
Schoenbergian school has spread, it has not been, I should say, against his wish, but certainly
without positive encouragement on his part.”47 Furthermore, referring to the Berlin master
class, Gerhard argued that Schoenberg “was the least dogmatic of Schoenbergians and he
warned us repeatedly of the dangers of orthodoxy.”48
Marc Blitzstein to Roberto Gerhard, February 11, 1963, Marc Blitzstein Papers, Wisconsin State Historical
Gerhard, “Schoenberg Reminiscences,” 64-65.
Gerhard’s music composed under the influence or tutelage of Schoenberg displays a
stark contrast to the music written previously. However, Gerhard continued to compose
relatively conventional genres with small musical forces: piano and voice, string quartet, wind
quintet, and various small chamber works. His music employed extreme chromaticism.
Gerhard’s first atonal works took place during this time. In addition, he first used Haupstimme
and Nebenstimme symbols during this period. He applied serial procedures to some of his
works. He used modernist techniques in his overtly Catalan works that utilized traditional music
and genres—a complete divergence from the tradition of the Orfeó Català. Gerhard’s Suite for
Winds, Strings, and Piano (1927) remains as an oddity amongst his compositions for its
Andalusian references (composed while outside Spain, Gerhard would also later abandon overt
Catalan references, replacing them with Andalucian/Spanish elements while he lived in
Gerhard began composing his divertimento for ten wind instruments for Schoenberg
after composing a set of variations for piano that is lost. The Divertimento exists in two
versions: scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons (see
Musical Example 5.1) and for piano for four hands. Neither version is finished; the light piece
consists of only 70 measures. The Divertimento marks the first time Gerhard used the
Hauptstimme and Nebenstimme symbols in his music, an attempt to call attention to the
primary and secondary voices in the work. The unfinished work displays a highly chromatic
vocabulary and grows organically through motivic variation.
Ex. 5.1. Roberto Gerhard, Divertimento, meas. 1-3.
SUITE FOR WINDS, STRINGS, AND PIANO (1927)
Two movements from the Suite for Winds, Strings, and Piano survive. On the
manuscript, Gerhard dedicated the suite to his former classmate Adolpe Weiss (1891-1971).49
Among Gerhard’s pre-1939 oeuvre, the suite is aberrant for its overt references to Andalusia. Its
two movements, entitled Sevillana and El conde sol, belong to the flamenco tradition of
A classmate of Gerhard, Alophe Weiss was the first American to study with Schoenberg; Gerhard signed his
name R. Gerhard Castells—the latter was the fictitious last name used by Gerhard in Vienna.
southern Spain—divergent from Catalan music. Its dedication to the American composer Weiss
suggests that its intended audience might have been American and not Catalan.50
The highly chromatic Sevillana makes references to the flamenco genre, employing its
rhythms in the piano (see Musical Example 5.2). Gerhard utilizes the Hauptstimme symbol to
aid in identifying the primary melody. The use of ostinatos is also prominent throughout the
movement. At measure 58, Gerhard asks the pianist to strike with a sharp blow the underside
of the keyboard with the knees.
Ex. 5.2. Roberto Gerhard, Sevillana, meas. 1-4.
Traditionally, “El conde sol” is a sung romance common to southern Spain. Gerhard’s El
conde sol begins with a lengthy solo viola part, evocative of the melismatic sung tradition (see
Musical Example 5.3).
In exile at Cambridge, the music of Gerhard evolved to become a Spanish Idenitity.
Ex. 5.3. Roberto Gerhard, El conde sol, meas. 1-3.
Gerhard does not employ the Hauptstimme symbol in the second movement. As with Sevillana,
the second movement is highly chromatic, employs ostinatos, and elevates rhythm as a primary
musical feature, tone clusters often serving a rhythmic purpose. Unlike Sevillana, the second
movement contains numerous shifts in meter.
STRING QUARTET NO. 3 (1927) AND CONCERTINO FOR STRINGS (1927-28)
Gerhard composed his first string quartet around 1915–17 (lost), and another in 1922
(lost). Schoenberg often assigned a string quartet as a final project. Like many of Gerhard’s
compositions of this period, the string quartet is pitch centric; however, it is highly chromatic
with modal ambiguity. Except for cadential points, Gerhard avoids octave doubling. The string
quartet is in three movements: the first is in sonata form with reversed recapitulation, the
second movement is in an ambiguous ternary form, and the third movement is in rondo form.
Unlike what one might expect from a composition by Schoenberg, Gerhard incorporates
Hispanic musical traits such as the Phrygian mode and hemiola. String Quartet No. 3 is
unpublished; however, a printer’s proof from the period survives and is housed in Valls.
Gerhard’s Concertino began as String Quartet no. 3. Only making minor changes (see
Musical Examples 5.4, 5.5. & 5.6), the Catalan composer arranged the string quartet for string
orchestra for his all-Gerhard concert in Barcelona that took place on 22 December 1929.
Ex. 5.4. Roberto Gerhard, String Quartet no. 3 and Concertino for Strings,
movement I, meas. 1-3.
Ex. 5.5. Roberto Gerhard, String Quartet no. 3 and Concertino for Strings,
movement II, meas. 1-3.
Ex. 5.6. Roberto Gerhard, String Quartet no. 3 and Concertino for Strings,
movement III, meas. 1-3.
SONATA FOR CLARINET AND PIANO (1928)
Once students demonstrated satisfactory compentency, Schoenberg had his pupils
begin composing small works for piano, art songs, sonatas, and chamber music. 51 Gerhard
composed both Sonata for Clarinet and Piano and Andantino for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano late
in his study with Schoenberg. It seems that the handwriting of both Gerhard and Schoenberg
appear on the manuscripts of both student works. The sonata, an atonal and compact
composition, exists as a self-contained single movement. While Gerhard rapidly circulated
through the chromatic aggregate, as well as attempting to avoid octave doubling and note
repetition, he never applied serial applications to the clarinet sonata. Melodically, Gerhard
chose chiefly disjunct motion with large leaps, often the interval of either a major or minor
seventh (see Musical Example 5.7). As accompaniment, Gerhard frequently employed quartal
harmonies (see Musical Example 5.8).
Schoenberg often assigned variations for piano to his students. Gerhard’s piano variations are assumed to be
Ex. 5.7. Roberto Gerhard, Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, meas. 1-3.
Ex. 5.8. Roberto Gerhard, Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, meas. 5.
Andantino was the last work Gerhard composed under the tutelage of Schoenberg. As
with Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Gerhard’s Andantino is atonal, utilizing all twelve pitches
while avoiding the application of a strict serial technique of composition, and is short in
duration. In the opening of the work, all twelve pitches are presented in the part (see Musical
Example 5.9); however, the series of pitches does not serve as the basis of the work.
Furthermore, three tertrachords divide the twelve pitch classes (see Musical Example 5.10).
Ex. 5.9. Roberto Gerhard, Andantino, meas. 1-4.
Ex. 5.10. Roberto Gerhard, Andantino, meas. 1.
While Gerhard employed unordered tetrachords and aggregates of twelve pitches, they do not
serve serial purposes. In Andantino, the contrapuntal clarinet and violin parts are juxtaposed
against the predominately chordal piano part.
WIND QUINTET (1928)
An atonal work, Gerhard’s wind quintet employs all twelve pitches with frequent
circulation of the aggregate; however, its opening two movements also reveal a seven-note row
(see Musical Example 5.11). The seven-note row appears in the bassoon at the start of the
movement (See Musical Examples 5.12 and 5.13).
Ex. 5.11. Roberto Gerhard, Wind Quintet
Ex. 5.12. Roberto Gerhard, Wind Quintet, movement I, meas. 1-2.
Ex. 5.13. Roberto Gerhard, Wind Quintet, movement I, meas. 1-3.
Gerhard organized the wind quintet with the conventional four-movement scheme, utilizing
sonata form for its opening movement. The slow second movement employs the seven-note
row as a pseudo-ground (Gerhard later used a row as a ground in his cantata L’alta naixença del
rei en Jaume). Gerhard frequently utilized elements of early music that predate the commonpractice era. Peter Paul Nash portrays the third movement as “a scherzo, with a central section
equivalent to a trio.”52 Nash as well as Rachel Mitchell characterized the last movement as a
rondo.53 The wind quintet premiered at the 1929 all-Gerhard Concert in Barcelona.
SARDANA I (1928)54
In an unidentified 1930 article titled “The Composer Gerhard and the Sardana,” the
author voices the astonishment of many that the modernist composer Gerhard had composed
sardanes: “Some expressed their surprise that Gerhard, Catalan composer, faithful disciple of
Shoenberg [sic], devoted his attention and activities to compose a sardana.”55 The author
recognized Gerhard’s approach to Catalan nationalism, seeking out both a Catalan and
universal character to his music: “We should also thank Gerhard for his noble ambition, wanting
to open new perspectives to the sardana, in the end to give it a sound of universality.”56
Gerhard’s first sardana is in duple meter and in the key of G major. The sardana maintains its
Peter Paul Nash, “the Wind Quntet,” Tempo 139 (1981): 5.
Ibid.; Rachel Elice Mitchell, “An Examination of the Serial Procedures and Folkloric Elements in the Music of
Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970)” (PhD diss, University of Texas, 2009).
Gerhard gave both of his sardanes the generic title of “Sardana,” unusual as most traditional sardanes received
s.n. , “El compositor Gerhard y la sardana,” La Sardana: Portantveu del foment de la sardana de Barcelona 62-3
(January-February 1930). “Algún ha mostrat la seva estranyesa que Gerhard, el compositor català, fidel deixeble de
Shoenberg [sic], dediqués la seva atenció, i les seves activitats per a composar unes sardanes.”
Ibid.; “S'ha d'agrair també a Gerhard la seva noblé ambició, de volguer obrir noves perspectives a la sardana,
qmb el fin de donar-li un tó d'universalitat.”
characteristic long-short-short rhythm. Gerhard employed a traditional cobla, an ensemble of
eleven musicians playing a mixture of Catalan and Western band instruments, for his first
sardana. In Gerhard’s first sardana, the Catalan derived dance does not contain an introit or
contrapunt, and has the structure of curt, llarg, curt, llarg, curt, llarg, and coda. The curt section
is 42 measures in length and the llarg is 84 measures in length.57 For the acord final, this takes
place in the coda, all the instruments—except the flabiol—cadence on a G major triad.
Gerhard’s sardana was a stylized sardana intended for the concert stage, not for dancing.
SARDANA II (1928)
Of Gerhard’s two sardanes, his second remains the most controversial, starkly breaking
away from the traditional definition of the genre. In his 1933 book on the traditional sardana,
Joan Llongueres provided four basic guidelines for the composition of traditional sardanes:
employ distinctive and tasteful melodies, follow traditional rules of harmony and counterpoint,
abide by the structure of the dance, and reflect traditional Catalan culture. Based on
Llongueres’ four points, Gerhard’s second sardana failed miserably. While being distinctive, the
Catalan public attending the 1929 all-Gerhard Concert felt the melodies of the sardana were in
poor taste, due largely to the fact that the second sardana was bitonal, juxtaposing F major and
G-flat major. Gerhard employed new harmonic procedures that clashed with traditional rules of
harmony and counterpoint. Gerhard deviated even more than in his first sardana from the
standardized musical structure by not retaining conventional full repeats of the curts and llargs.
In the second sardana, Gerhard added tenor saxophone and bassoon to the traditional cobla.
To dance the sardana requires the dancers to count the number of measures of each section. Interestingly,
Gerhard numbered each measure in the manuscript, which he never had done before.
Lluís Millet criticized the use of the saxophone as well as the inappropriate musical character of
the national dance. The director of the Orfeo Català argued that the saxophone was a foreign
instrument associated with African-Americans, and that the martial character of the music
contradicted the fraternal spirit of the national dance.58
14 CANÇONS POPULARS CATALANES (1928)
Gerhard arranged for soprano and piano fourteen Catalan folk songs, later setting them
for orchestra in 1931. Gerhard published six Catalan folk songs (La calàndria, La mort i la
donzella, El petit vailet, El cotiló, enemic de les dones, and Els ballaires dins d’un sac) with
Universal Edition in 1933. Not altering the melodies of the traditional Catalan songs, Gerhard
chose to accompany the tonal or modal melodies with modern piano accompaniments.
Gerhard’s arrangements resemble those of Béla Bartók, with which Gerhard surely was familiar.
Highly dissonant compared to the harmonized Catalan folk songs of the Orfeó Català, Gerhard
uses a compressed musical language that employs bitonality and triadic non-functional
harmonies, as well as quartal harmonies (see Musical Example 5.14).
Ex. 5.14. Roberto Gerhard, “El petit vailet” from Six Catalan Folk Songs, meas. 1-3.
Lluís Millet, “Sessió Robert Gerhard,” Revista Musical Catalana 27 (1930): 9.
Under the guidance of Schoenberg, Gerhard gradually gained a sense of competence to
compose again. He returned to Barcelona to an initially welcoming reception, as a disciple of
Schoenberg; however, he would soon face difficulties with the Catalan public in their
acceptance of his chosen musical direction. Nonetheless, he would receive his first international
recognition as universal composer with his award-winning cantata L’alta naixença del rei en
CHAPTER 6: GERHARD IN BARCELONA
Gerhard, as a promising young Catalan composer, returned to Barcelona in late 1929
after his five years of study with Schoenberg, culminating in a much-anticipated all-Gerhard
concert. Newspapers throughout Catalonia promoted the concert, organizers predicted repeat
performances throughout the region, and citizens of the composer’s birthplace of Valls made
special arrangements to facilitate travel to attend the event in Barcelona. However, instead of a
triumphant success, Gerhard faced almost unmitigated disapproval of his music, leading to a
passionate debate on the direction of Catalan concert music—a concern of many Catalan
nationalists. The Catalan press harshly and overwhelmingly criticized the concert for the
composer’s avant-garde approach; however, it was a review by Lluís Millet that most affected
Gerhard, causing the modernist composer to respond in his column from the journal El
Mirador. Gerhard’s music and Millet’s review of the controversial concert sparked a debate on
the course of Catalan concert music between the two Catalan musicians. The elder and
conservative Millet, founder and conductor of the acclaimed Orfeó Català, attacked the music
of Gerhard for its modernist qualities, arguing that atonal music had no theoretical framework
and was therefore unworthy of use in musical composition. The young Gerhard, the most
prominent avant-garde composer and advocate working in Catalonia or Spain, defended his
music against Millet’s criticisms. Underlying the heated debate is how it reflected a shift in the
cultural discourse of Catalan nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. As a means
to foster cultural and political independence from the rest of Spain, Catalan national sentiment
gradually switched to the promotion of modernist ideologies after previously fending them off
in the defense, preservation, and revival of its traditional culture. Many works of this period by
Gerhard exhibited an intricate reconciliation of traditional Catalan elements with modern
Central European musical aesthetics as a manifestation of Catalan nationalism, a movement
that promoted modernization in the arts as an expression of Catalan national sentiment.
Until December, the Catalan public had limited familiarity with only two of Gerhard’s
works, L’infantament meravellós de Schahrazada (1918) and his second piano trio (1918). Both
published works received performances, earning praise from Catalan audiences. The song cycle,
using the poetry of Catalan Josep Maria López-Pico, resembled turn-of-the-century German
Lieder, and Gerhard’s piano trio displayed striking similarities with that of Maurice Ravel.1
Numerous reviewers lamented that Gerhard, a youthful composer with demonstrated talent,
abandoned conventional musical practices, in their opinion, for the sake of novelty.
In the late evening of Sunday 22 December 1929, Gerhard premiered six works to a full
and attentive audience.2 The controversial concert took place at the prominent Palau de la
Música Catalana and consisted of highly chromatic as well as atonal compositions, and works
related to traditional Catalan music. The program included his Concertino (1927-28), Sept haikai (1922), Wind Quintet (1928), eight songs from Cançons populars catalanes (1928), and two
sardanes (1928-29). Initially conceived as a string quartet, Gerhard arranged Concertino for
string orchestra. In a lyrical and contrapuntal manner, Gerhard employed total chromaticism in
all three movements with the formal structure of fast-slow-fast. Of the six works premiered,
only the composition of the Sept haiku occurred before Gerhard’s study with Schoenberg.
In a 1923 letter to Schoenberg, Gerhard described his Ravel-influenced works as being written during the
shallowest period of his life.
The 22 December 1929 “Sessió Gerhard” included the performance by Concepció Badia d’Agusti (soprano),
Alexandre Vilalta (piano), Esteve Gratacós (flute), Cassià Carles (oboe), Joan Vives (clarinet), Anton Goxens
(bassoon), Ramon Bonell (horn), and La Cobla Barcelona-Albert Martí.
Allusion to Pierrot Lunaire exists in the work; however, the seven haiku display a more striking
resemblance to Igor Stravinsky’s Three Japanese Lyrics (1912-13). Gerhard employed French
poetry by the Catalan poet Josep Maria Junoy in the work. The Wind Quintet, the most
controversial composition on the program, displayed the most direct influence of Schoenberg.
Gerhard selected eight songs from his arrangement of fourteen Catalan folksongs, Cançons
populars catalanes. Not altering the melody of the traditional Catalan songs, he preferred
instead to support the tonal or modal melodies with more a dissonant piano accompaniment.
The sardanes were the most conservative, in the use of tonality and regular rhythm, of the allGerhard program. The sardana, functioning as the national dance of Catalonia, also included
the requisite Catalan double reed instruments, tible and tenora. In the second sardana, Gerhard
incorporated the use of the saxophone, offending traditionalists within the audience.
Numerous Catalan and Spanish language newspapers covered the concert, and most
remarked on the difficulty in comprehending the new music. Writing for Las Noticias, Jaume
Pahissa argued for the need to hear repeated performances in order to appreciate fully
Gerhard’s new musical style.3 The concert reviewer of La Nau stated that some of the audience
thought the musical works might have been a joke.4 Nearly all reviewers stated that the new
music of Gerhard consisted of too much dissonance and irregular rhythms. Francesc Trabal
wrote that the public chattered, slept, and joked; however, the audience was not brave enough
to put a stop to the concert.5
Jaume Pahissa, “Sesion Roberto Gerhard,” Las Noticias, January 2, 1930.
s.n. “Sessio Robert Gerhard.” La Nau, December 25, 1929.
Francesc Trabal, “Robert Gerhard a Barcelona.” Diari de Sabadell, December 25, 1929.
Reminiscent of the “Artusi-Monteverdi controversy,” the conservative Millet
condemned the unconventional and new approaches to musical composition by Gerhard,
resulting in a printed debate. Millet wrote for the influential periodical Revista Musical
Catalana, and Gerhard wrote for El Mirador, a periodical that discussed the avant-garde in the
arts. In the concert review, Millet described the audience’s hostile reception of Gerhard’s
music. He wrote that the public listened intently, but gradually they became restless, and then
began to make noise. Millet believed that Gerhard was so absorbed in the musical system that
he abandoned artistic creation in favor of working out intellectual problems. Millet questioned
how music could exist without a tonal hierarchy, and complained that Gerhard had not clearly
explained this musical system. Questioning how harmony or melody could exist in this new
system, Millet wrote “A melody without a determinant tonal or modal sense results in
incoherence; it does not make sense.”6 Making reference to Gerhard’s Wind Quintet as the
most objectionable work in the concert, Millet argued that Gerhard’s reliance on atonality and
dissonances made the work “incoherent, annoying, and disagreeable.”7 Millet remarked that a
portion of the work partially deserved artistic merit, which the audience overlooked:
…the third movement [of the Wind Quintet] seemed more successful because of its
liveliness, playfulness and preciseness of the rhythm. The rhythm partly salvaged it from
incoherencies. Unfortunately the public being unaware of this change, gladly made
noise, prevented most of that movement from being heard.8
Lluís Millet, “Sessió Robert Gerhard,” Revista Musical Catalana 27 (1930): 9. “Un tret melòdie sense determinat
sentit tonal ni modal resulta incoherent, no té solta.” In Gerhard’s personal copy of the concert review, currently
housed at the Roberto Gerhard Archive in Valls, Spain, the composer underlined the latter portion of the sentence.
Ibid. “Tot pren un fort relleu i l’atonalitat i dissonàncies donen una incoerència a l’obra que la fa enutjosa,
Ibid. “el tercer temps ens semblà més reeixit per la vivacitat del ritme, enjogassat i précis. El ritme salvava en part
les incoherencies. Desgraciadament el públic, sobtat pel canvi, les donà en alegrar-se i fer xivarri, privant així, en
bona part, de poder escoltar bé aquell temps.” Gerhard underlined the word “incoherencies”.
He halfheartedly praised Gerhard for including Catalan folk songs and sardanes in the concert
program, claiming that they rescued the concert from being a complete disaster. In Millet’s
previous writings, he described the sardana as “the most pure and beautiful dance, with the
most honorable and elegant movements, the dance that is the living and beautiful symbol with
the body and spirit of our racial disposition.”9 Millet criticized the sardanes of the concert,
condemning the use of “atonality,” and the inappropriate musical character of the national
dance. Millet argued that the martial character of the music contradicted the fraternal spirit of
the national dance.
In Gerhard’s El Mirador column, he began with a series of articles with the following
titles: Prelude, Chorale, Fugue, Fugue (Ending), Coda, and Variations. The articles were directly
intended for Millet’s consumption. In the opening of the essay titled Fugue, Gerhard thanked
Millet for the opportunity to debate him:
More than a polite duty, noble maestro, it is a pleasure to accept your invitation in the
pages of the Revista Musical Catalana, which I recently got my hands on. I feel honored
by the words you dedicate to my music, coming from such a noble and representative
personality like yours in our musical world. They make possible a debate I had not
thought about before reading your well-intended article. I must confess I read it with
Gerhard commented that the concert and its reception made him feel like the prodigal son
returning from a distant land. He argued that his music was not too intellectual, and was indeed
accessible to all classes. As proof, Gerhard used his father as an example of the common man.
Aureli Capmany, Com es balla la sardana (Barcelona: Salvador Bonavía, 1924), 28. “… la dansa més pura i més
bella, la dels movements més dignes i gentils, la dansa que és el segell viu i graciós amb cos i esperit de nostre
temperament de raça.”
Robert Gerhard“Fuga: al mestre Millet,” Mirador, February 20, 1930, 5. “Més que un deure de cortesia, noble
mestre, és goig per mi d’acceptar la invitació que em feu des de les planes de la Revista Musical Catalana, arribada
fa poc a les meves mans. Les paraules que em feu l’honor de dedicar a la meva música, venint d’una personalitat
il·lustre i representative com sou vós dintre el nostre món musical, donen peu a un debat en el qual no pensava
pas abans de llegir el vostre benevolent article. Us confesso que l’he llegit amb veritable emoció.”
His father, a wine exporter by trade, attended the controversial concert, and told his oldest son
that he had enjoyed all the compositions very much (as would be expected from a parent).
Commenting on his father’s response to the concert, and suspecting that Millet doubted his
father’s musical qualifications, he wrote, “However, you would believe that my father is not a
musician.”11 Gerhard continued by informing Millet that his father was not a trained musician;
however, he was musical, and that his ancestors were folk musicians. Much debate between
the two Catalan musicians centered on the concept of artistic creation, and in response to
Millet, he wrote, “If you mean that artistic creation is above all a natural fact, essentially
unreflecting or inspired, the product of a spontaneous and inoffensive behavior, or without the
pains of giving birth, it seems to me that you would be defending a thesis with which you could
only do youth a poor service.”12
Confusion over the meaning of the term atonal was the basis for further debate.
Gerhard expressed his displeasure with the misleading term: “I can see that you have been led
into error by that disgusting word ‘atonal’—which we will never be able to get rid of—when
you suppose it to mean ‘emancipation of the whole hierarchy of sounds.’”13 He cautioned Millet
that developments in western music had always occurred throughout history, reminding the
maestro of forerunners to tonal conventions. Evoking the myth of Orpheus, Gerhard
sarcastically challenged the historical superiority of tonality, addressing Millet:
I do not believe, maestro Millet, that you suppose that the sound with which Orpheus
tamed the wild beasts would respond to our tonal or modal one. I find that this question
Ibid. “No obstant, no creguéssiu que no és músic el meu pare.”
Ibid. “Si Voleu donar a entendre que la creació artística és sobretot un fet natural, essencialment irreflexiu o
inspirit, produit d’una manera espontània i anodina, o sense les dolors del part, em sembla que vindríeu a defensar
una tesi amb la qual podríeu fer un flac servei a la joventut.”
Ibid. “Veig que us ha induit en error aquella desagradable paraula ‘atonal’—que ja mai més no podrem esborrar
del mapa—quan suposeu que vol dir ‘deslliurament dels sons de tota jerarquia’.”
of the tonal or “atonal” order of the materials, at heart, has no artistic interest; it is an
essentially theoretical question, almost of acoustics and not of morphology. 14
Unable to address all of the questions from Millet in the first article, Gerhard continued
in the second essay:
I am much more interested in picking up this assertion of yours: [quoting Millet] “A
melody without a determinant tonal or modal sense results in incoherence, it make no
sense.” [Gerhard responded] I emphasize the word determinant, which you use
implicitly in an exclusive sense, since you refer to a single determining system. And
permit me to disagree with you on the following: a melodic line that would respond to
your tonal or modal determination, can be musically as incoherent as an inarticulate
scream, if its rationality is not guaranteed by a principle of a higher and more subtle
organization than the elementary mathematics that could be derived from its reference
to a certain scale of seven notes.15
Arguing that melodies are not restricted to tonal or modal scales, he noted that “a melodic line
that would present this rational organization will be coherent and intelligible even though it is
not referred to a tonal or modal scale, but to an ‘atonal’ scale, for instance, to one of the
innumerable possible permutations of the twelve pitches of our equal-tempered scale.”16 He
claimed vindication by reminding readers of Millet’s previous remark that the third movement
of the Wind Quintet was “more successful” because of its rhythm. Gerhard contended that
rhythm could indeed provide a melodic line or idea with intelligible organization. In addition to
rhythm, Gerhard wrote that melodic ideas could also be valid as vertical harmonies. According
Ibid. “Jo no crec pas, mestre Millet, que vós suposeu que el so amb el qual Orfeu domesticava les feres
respongués al nostre tonal o modal . Aquests qüestió de l’ordre tonal o ‘atonal’ dels materials, trobo que, en el
fons, no té cap interès artístic; és una qüestió essencialment de teoria, gairebé d’acústica, i no de morfologia.”
Roberto Gerhard, “Fuga (acabament): al Mestre Millet,” Mirador, February 27, 1930, 5. “M’interessa molt més
recollir aquesta afirmació vostra: ‘Un tret melòdic sense determinat sentit tonal ni modal resulta incoherent, no té
solta’. Subratllola paraula determinat que vós empreu implícitament en un sentit exclusiu, ja que us referiu a un
sistema únic de determinació. I permeteu-me que us oposi la següent: un tret melòdic que respongui a la vostra
determanació tonal o modal , pot ésser musicalment tan incoherent com un crit inarticulate, si la seva racionalitat
no és garantida per un principi d’organització molt més elevat i subtil que la matemàtica elemental que pugui
deriver-se de la seva referència a una escala determinada de 7 sons.”
Ibid. “…un tret melòdic que ofereixi aquesta organització racional , serà coherent i intel·ligible encara que no
sigui referit a una escala tonal o modal, sinó a una escala ‘atonal’, per exemple, a una de les innombrables
premutacions possibles dels 12 sons del nostre sistema temperat.”
to Gerhard, harmony was not exclusive to tonality; he wrote that “‘harmony,’ genuinely, only
means perfect concordance, logical congruence between these two dimensions. This is the
central thought of the inherited old tonality, and is also as a central thought of the new
atonality.”17 Gerhard revealed to Millet that Schoenberg never taught atonal composition,
rather “Schoenberg has taught us to see and admire this rational sense of the old tonality,
nowadays hidden and forgotten by the majority. He has taught us to compose tonally (not
atonally, he never taught it).”18
According to Gerhard, a composer is not a music theorist, and therefore has no interest
or obligation in creating rules for a musical system. He argued that throughout music history,
theory always followed practice. He questioned Millet’s dogmatic adherence to tonality, posing
the question “…what existed before? It was not our tonality.”19 Gerhard observed similarities
between contrapuntal techniques of his Concertino and those of an anonymous thirteenthcentury composer, which he suggested might have been a Catalan.20 He also made reference to
the “golden age” of Spain when Spanish Renaissance composers wrote in a universal style.
Gerhard essentially argued that Catalan composers were never bound to a tonal system and did
not belong to the periphery of European composition.
Millet responded to Gerhard’s two essays with another essay directed to the young
composer, remarking on the concept of artistic creation and artistic purpose. According to
Millet, an “Artistic creation is not simply intelligence or irrational sentiment…but a great flame
Ibid. “’Harmonia’, genuinament, no vol dir altra cosa que concordància perfecta, congruència lògica entre
aquestes dues dimensions. Aquest és el pensament central de la vella tonalitat, heretat, com a pensament central
també, per la nova ‘atonalitat’.”
Ibid. “Schoenberg ens ha ensenyat a veure i a admirar aquest ‘entit racional de la vella tonalitat amagat avui i
oblidat per la majoria. Ens ha ensenyat a compondre tonalment (no atonalment, ell això no ho ensenya).”
Ibid. “…què hi havia anteriorment? No era pas el nostre ordre tonal.”
Gerhard encountered this work during his musicological activities at the Biblioteca de Catalunya.
that illuminates, comforts, and edifies,”21 and that artistic purpose “is in the expansion of an
indescribable sentiment of consolation and accord, in the radiation of a joy of all existence.”22
He wrote that Beethoven as well as Bach and Mozart were the archetype of artistic creation.
Millet stated that he was troubled with Gerhard’s lack of “authentic artistic purpose, or the
In his essay titled “Coda,” Gerhard addressed Millet once again, referring to Millet’s
statement that tonal hierarchy can operate in “thousands of ways.”24 Agreeing, Gerhard stated
that atonality is an extension of tonal hierarchy. According to Gerhard, atonality was not
divergent of tonality, rather “in this word, the negation is addressed against the formula of an
exclusive and historically obsolete system, and not against the essence of the concept.”25
Gerhard addressed Millet’s request to provide a complete explanation of the new
compositional methods by stating that it would be impossible in a column, and that he would
leave that task to future music theorists. Getting the last word, at least in print, Gerhard
concluded the debate calling Millet a music critic and himself an artist, each with different
Although you say that you have missed in my music “the true artistic purpose,” that is,
beauty. Ah maestro, if you become allied with that lady, I will evidently lose! I shall be
glad to lose to you in this domain. I would rather have to lose a thousand times against a
critic, who is the only man—history proves it—who possesses the secret of Beauty. It is
Lluís Millet, “Sessió Robert Gerhard,” Revista Musical Catalana 27 (1930): 110. “La concepció o creació artística
no és intel·ligència pura, ni sentiment irracional. No és branca seca, sinó branca floridora; no una foguera
devastadora, sinó una gran flama que il·lumina, conforta i edifice.”
Ibid. “…està en ‘l’expansió d’un sentiment ineffable de consol i harmonia’, en ‘la irradiació d’un goig de tot
Ibid., 111. “…la vera finalitat artística, o sigui, la bellesa.”
Robert Gerhard, “Coda,” Mirador, 10 April 1930, 5. “mil maneres.”
Ibid. “…en aquesta paraula la negació va dirigida contra el tabú d’un sistema exclusiu històricament caducat, i no
contra l’essència del concepte.”
his professional secret. I am sincerely convinced, maestro Millet, that we, the artists,
understand absolutely nothing of these things.26
Gerhard and his modernist approach was not an isolated case in the arts in Catalonia. A
few years before Gerhard’s concert, Joan Miró, the Catalan surrealist painter and friend of
Gerhard, encountered resistance to his new direction in art. Miró sought to be an “international
Catalan,” reconciling his attachment to Catalan traditions with a longing to participate in the
artistic world of the avant-garde.27 As Gerhard previously observed, Iberian composers once
composed in a universal style; Gerhard’s avant-garde approach to composition stemmed from
his desire to participate, like Miró, as an “international Catalan.”
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a shift occurred in the cultural dialogue of
Catalan nationalism, a movement that gradually promoted modernization in the arts as a
manifestation of Catalan national sentiment. Gerhard, as part of Schoenberg’s circle, perceived
atonality in evolutionary terms, as the next progression of musical development.28 All the works
in the 1929 retrospective concert reflected Gerhard’s promotion of avant-garde ideals in
Catalan music. Even in the overtly nationalistic works such as his Catalan folksong arrangements
or sardanes, he applied modernist techniques developed under the tutelage of Schoenberg.
Like Miró, Gerhard sought for European acceptance, breaking away from isolation. The music in
his retrospective concert exhibited an intricate reconciliation of traditional Catalan values with
Ibid. “Dieu encara que vós heu trobat a faltar en la meva música ‘vera finalitat artistica, o sigui la bellesa. Ah,
mestre, si vós feu aliada vostra aquesta dama, és evident que em tocarà perdre! Em sabràgreu haver de perdre
amb vós en aquest terreny! Mil vegades preferiria haver de perdre amb un critic que és l’unic home—la història ho
demostra—que posseeix el secret de la Bellesa. Es el seu secret professional. Estic sincerament convençut, mestre
Millet, que els artistes no hi entenem absolutament res en aquestes coses.”
Robert S. Lubar, “Joan Miró before “The Farm,” 1915-1922: Catalan Nationalism and the Avant-Garde” (Ph.D.
diss., New York University, 1988), 167.
In 1921, Schoenberg told Josef Rufer that “I have made a discovery which will ensure the supremacy of German
music for the next hundred years.”
modern Central European musical aesthetics, and Gerhard ardently defended avant-garde
music during this transitional period in Catalan nationalism. Following the 1929 concert, he
continued to explore new musical resources with Catalan elements, and soon would gain
AMICS DE L’ART NOU AND COMPOSITORS INDEPENDENTS DE CATALUNYA
In 1932, alongside surrealist painter Joan Miró, architect Josep Lluís Sert, and arts
promoter Joan Prats i Vallès, Gerhard established the Amics de l’Art Nou (A.D.L.A.N.),
promoting Catalan avant-garde arts. During the early 1930s, eight Catalan composers known as
the Compositors Independents de Catalunya (C.I.C.)—representing an array of modern musical
practices—organized themselves in Barcelona as a unified collective with the overriding
objective of presenting modern music as a representation of Catalan culture to the greater
public. While unified with Gerhard in their acceptance of contemporary approaches to music,
the composers Frederic Mompou, Agustí Grau, Joan Gibert-Camins, Eduard Toldrà, Manuel
Blancafort, Baltasar Samper, and Ricard Lamote remained nonetheless heterogeneous in their
personal compositional styles. Among the C.I.C., Gerhard remained the only composer of the
group unmistakably influenced by the Second Viennese School. On 25 June 1931, there was a
concert with music by of all the aforementioned Catalan composers. The music of the C.I.C.
expressed the new direction of Catalan music and mounting national sentiment of Catalonia.
Earlier in the 1920s, the composers Blancafort, Toldrà, Mompou, Samper, and
Gerhard—friends united in a desire for a new universal Catalan music—met at the home of
Gibert-Camins on Fridays, with the exception of summers.29 According to Blancafort, Gerhard
came less often to these meetings and proved to be the most difficult of those that attended.30
However, by the prompting of Gerhard, in June of 1931 the association of the C.I.C. was
formally created by the eight Catalan composers—Grau and Lamonte were the recent
additions.31 In addition, Blancafort cited the pianist Ricardo Viñes as the association’s “great
propagandist.”32 Many of the members of the C.I.C. contributed writings addressing the
direction of Catalan music to the local press; however, as a unified group, no manifesto was
ever produced.33 Instead, Jean Cocteau’s Le coq et l’arlequin (1918), writing for French
composers, was read by all of the C.I.C. and served as their ad hoc manifesto.34
In Le coq et l’arlequin, Cocteau contrasts what he perceived as the artificiality,
indiscriminateness, and cowardliness of the harlequin [alien] against the genuineness and
domesticality of the cock [national]:
I admire the harlequins of Cézanne and Picasso, but I do not like harlequin. He wears a
mask and a suit of all colors. After denying the cock’s crow, he hides. This is a “night
cock.” On the other hand, I like the true cock, genuinely ornate. The said cock [crows]
two times and lives on his farm.35
Addressing a new generation of composers, Cocteau disapprovingly associates German music
with the harlequin:
Emilio Casares Rodicio, “Manuel Blancafort o la afirmación de la nueva música catalana,” in La Música en la
Generación del 27 (Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1986), 113.
Jean Cocteau, Le coq et l’arlequin (Paris: Éditions de la Sirène), 6. “J’admire les Arlequins de Cézanne et de
Picasso mais je n’aime pas Arlequin. Il porte un loup et un costume de toutes les couleurs. Après avoir renié au
chant du coq, il se cache. C’est un coq de la nuit. Par contre j’aime le vrai coq, profondément bariolé. Le coq dit
Cocteau deux fois et habite sa ferme.”
I offer them [notes] to you because a musician of your age asserts the richness and
grace of a generation that no longer grimaces, wears a mask, hides, or fears, and
furthermore is not afraid to admire or to stand up for what one admires. The paradox
and eclecticism are detestable things. One mistakenly smiled for them with their faded
elegance. One also dreads the colossal. That is what I call to escape from Germany. Long
live the Cock! Down with the Harlequin! 36
Invoking the Greek philosopher, Cocteau criticizes Germany, writing that “Socrates said: “Who
is that man that eats bread as if good food, and good food as if it was bread?” Answer: the
music-loving German.”37 He continues, warning of German influence stemming from French
Germany, knowing nothing of indigestion, drew attention to the obscure efforts of our
young artists because, she said, France allows them to die of starvation. Apart from the
fact that is both true and normal, since it takes time for the fatherland to digest new
food, the German temptation was dangerous for the young men without a public. And
so their theories arrived to us through German intermediaries, and not only that, but
disguised, like everything else that Germany borrows. Let us acknowledge that nothing
could initially seem more suspicious.38
While praising Schoenberg, Cocteau also questions his importance, writing that “I do not attack
modern German music. Schoenberg is a master; all our musicians and Stravinsky owe him
something, but Schoenberg is chiefly a blackboard musician.”39
Ibid., 6-7. “Je vous les offre parce qu’un musicien de votre âge annonce la richesse, la grâce d’une génération qui
ne cligne plus de l'œil, qui ne se masque pas, ne renie pas, ne se cache pas, ne craint ni d’aimer ni de défendre ce
qu’elle aime. Le paradoxe et l’éclectisme lui sont choses haïssables. Elle méprise leur sourire, leur élégance flétrie.
Elle redoute aussi l’énorme. C’est ce que j’appelle s’évader d’Allemagne. Vive le Coq! à bas l’Arlequin!”
Ibid., 23. “Socrate disait: « Quel est cet homme qui mange du pain comme si c'était de la bonne chere, et la
bonne chere comme si c’était du pain ? » Réponse : le mélomane allemand.”
Ibid., 24-5. “L’Allemagne, qui ne connaît pas ’l indigestion, répandait, éclairait les re- cherches obscures de nos
jeunes artistes, puisque, disait-elle, la France conserva- trice les laisse mourir de faim. Outre que cela est exact et
normal, puisq11’il faut le temps qu’une patrie digère la nourriture nouvelle, la tentation allemande était
dangereuse pour des jeunes hommes sans public. Leurs théories arrivaient donc chez nous par l’entremise
allemande, et de plus, camouflées comme tout ce que l’Allemagne emprunte. Quoi de plus suspect au premier
Ibid.,23. “Je ne me dresse pas contre la mu- sique moderne allemande. Schoenberg est un maître; tous nos
musiciens et Stravinsky lui doivent quelque chose, mais Schoenberg est surtout un musicien de tableau noir.”
Using Debussy as example, the author of Le coq et l’arlequin also argues against Russian
influences, claiming “Debussy lost his way because he fell from the German pitfall to the
Russian trap.”40 According to Cocteau, “Debussy played in French, but used the Russian
pedal.”41 In Le coq et l’arlequin, Cocteau advocates for a national music, free from the influence
of other national musics:
When I say “the Russian trap” or “Russian influence,” I do not mean by that I despise
Russian music. Russian music is admirable because it is Russian music. Russian-French
music or German-French music is necessarily bastardized, even if it be inspired by a
Mussorgsky, a Stravinsky, a Wagner, or a Schoenberg. I ask for a French music of
Cocteau argues that a nascent national musical emerged only to become co-opted by
Stravinsky, asserting that “We were musically amidst the zenith of impressionism, trying to find
a new system to be blurry and varied…Then suddenly in the middle of these charming ruins,
grew the Stravinsky tree.”43
The enigmatic Cocteau explains that art often advances ahead of society, writing that
“WHEN A WORK OF ART SEEMS IN ADVANCE OF ITS PERIOD, THIS IS SIMPLY THAT THE PERIOD
HAS LAGGED BEHIND THE WORK OF ART.”44 Moreover, Cocteau argued that art should always
progress: “An artist that goes backwards betrays nobody, except himself.”45 In addition,
Cocteau writes that “The picturesque and especially the exotic places musicians at a
Ibid., 28. “Debussy a dévié, parce que de l’embûche allemande, il est tombé dans le piège russe.”
Ibid., 52. “Debussy a joué en français, mais il a mis la pédale russe.”
Ibid., 29. “Quand je dis « le piège russe », « l’influence russe », je ne veux pas dire par là que je dédaigne la
musique russe. La musique russe est admirable parce qu’elle est la musique russe. La musique q française russe ou
la musique f1·ançaise allemande est forcément bàtarde, même si elle s’inspire d’un Moussorgsky, d’un Stravinsky,
d’un Wagner, d’un Schoenberg. Je demande une musique française de France.”
Ibid., 64. “Nous étions, musicalement, en plein impressionnisme. C’était i qui trouverait un nouveau système
d'être flou et fondu;… Alors, soudain, au milieu de ces ruines charmantes, poussa l’arbre Stravinsky.”
Ibid., 14. “LOBSQU UNE (ŒVRE SEMBLE EN AVANCE SUR SON EPOQUE, C’EST SIMPLEMENT QUE SON EPOQUE
EST EN HETAHD SUR ELLE.”
Ibid. “Un artiste qui recule ne trahit pas. Il se trahit.”
disadvantage.”46 The French author recognized that traditions develop and appear in multiple
varieties, maintaining that “TRADITION APPEARS AT EVERY EPOCH UNDER A DIFFERENT
DISGUISE, BUT THE PUBLIC DOES NOT RECOGNISE IT EASILY AND NEVER DISCOVERS IT
UNDERNEATH ITS MASKS.”47
Blancafort contended that Catalan composers should not exploit traditional music;
instead, he advocated employing a universal vocabulary:
Our music has to be Catalan, but it is essential to avoid Catalan folk vestiges such as folk
festivals and the porron.48 Nowadays in Catalonia, there exists more than shepherds and
peasants. Abroad, a Catalan should not be a picturesque and exotic person, like that of
the comedies of the past century. Our music has to be something more than a sardana
and a traditional song; it has to speak of Catalan things in a European language.49
Addressing previous Catalan music, Blancafort claimed that both Albéniz and Granados did not
compose Catalan music.50 The works of Mompou, his good friend, were too brief and almost
exclusively for piano, leaving a void and the need for other Catalan composers to compose in
other genres.51 Without identifying further individuals, Blancafort stated that too many Catalan
composers relied upon inflammatory patriotic text, claiming that without such text, those
works would never receive an audience.52 Lastly, he addressed nationalism, suggesting that
nationalism was too often confused with popularism.53
Ibid., 18. “Un handicap de pittoresque dispose mal envers les musiciens et l’exotisme principalement.”
Ibid., 42. “LA TRADITION SE TBAVESTIT l D’ÉPOQUE EN EPOQUE, MAIS LE PUBLIC CONNAIT MAL SON REGARD ET
NE LA BETROUVE JAMAIS SOUS SES MASQUES.”
Serving as a symbol of Catalan identity, the porron is a traditional Catalan wine vessel made of glass with a
pointed spout that permits individuals to drink wine without their lips touching the porron, facilitating communal
La Noche, March 2, 1929, in La Música en la Generación del 27 (Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1986), 109.
‘Entrevista con Manuel Blancafort’, Vasco (1927), in La Música en la Generación del 27 (Madrid: Ministerio de
Cultura, 1986), 230.
The first (and subsequently last) concert of the association of Catalan composers took
place on 25 June 1931 in the Sala Mozart in Barcelona with many of the composers also
performing. The concert included performances by Concepció Badi d’Agusti, a leading soprano
in the new Catalan music movement. Organized in three parts, the concert opened with the
Piano Trio by Gerhard. Vicents Maria de Gibert, years earlier, had asked listeners to observe the
universality of one of Gerhard’s earliest successes, Trio:
…look especially at the second movement…an articulation so loose and so complete in
significance, of real personal inspiration while at the same time with aspects that evoke
our folk songs. Are we not able to say in praise of Gerhard—linking two terms perhaps
paradoxical—that he is a “cosmopolitan” Catalan?54
Piano works by Lamote, Blancafort, Samper, Mompou, Grau, and Toldrà followed the threemovement trio. The concert concluded with vocal works employing text largely provided by
Catalan poets. The concert closed with Gerhard’s Sept hai-kai—text in French by a Catalan poet.
Members of the C.I.C sought, as Blancafort wrote “[to] speak of Catalan things in a
European language.” However, with the exception of Gerhard, the C.I.C. espoused a
fundamentally French musical vocabulary. In addition to his association with the Second
Viennese School, according to Blancafort, Gerhard also differed from the other members of the
C.I.C. by being the only overtly political individual of the Catalan association.55
On 12 July 1933, A.D.L.A.N. held a concert to honor Gerhard at the Institut Català de
Sant Isidre in Barcelona.56 The concert began with Gerhard’s Wind Quintet and in the spirit of
Concert program, Associació de Música ‘Da Camera’ de Barcelona, 2 March 2, 1922.
Emilio Casares Rodicio, “Manuel Blancafort o la afirmación de la nueva música catalana,” in La Música en la
Generación del 27 (Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1986), 113.
Concert program, ADLAN , July 12, 1933.
the Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen,57 a repeat performance of the Wind Quintet.
The concert continued with four songs from Cançon popular catalanes (“La calàndria,” “La mort
i la donzella,” “El petit vailet,” and “Enemic de les dones”) and four melodies from
L’infantament meravellós de Schahrazada (“El repòs del teu rull damunt del front,”
“crit de mercat,” “Melodios com entremig d’arbredes,” and “Enamorat incaut”).
SCHOENBERG IN BARCELONA
Suffering from health problems associated with asthma and worsened by the harsh
winters of Berlin, Schoenberg traveled to Barcelona in 1931, hoping to improve the condition of
his health. Not being his first time in Spain, Schoenberg first came to the Mediterranean nation
in 1925, arriving to Barcelona to conduct various concerts. In April, Gerhard arranged for
Schoenberg to conduct a series of concerts of Viennese music in Catalonia. On April 26 and 28,
concerts of music by Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, and Schoenberg took place in
Barcelona, followed by similar concerts with additional works by Schubert and Mahler in the
Catalan cities of Girona, Figueres, Palamós, and Reus.58 An all-Schoenberg concert sponsored by
the Associació de Música de Càmera took place at the Palau de la Música Catalana on April 29.59
Amongst the works performed was the Barcelona premiere of Pierrot lunaire, and according to
Joachim Stutschewsky, the cellist in the ensemble, Gerhard was requested to sit on the rostrum
with the musicians during the performance of the avant-garde work because of fears of a
Works performed at the Viennese organization Verein für musikalische Privataufführungen—founded in 1918 by
Schoenberg— were permitted to have repeat performances to allow the audience a second opportunity to hear a
Montserrat Albet, “Roberto Gerhard, de nou,” 34.
Marya Freund, singer; Rudolf Kolisch, violin; Fritz Rothschild, violin; Marcell Dick, viola; Joachim Stutschewsky,
cello; Viktor Pollatschek, clarinet, Franz Wangler, flute; Friedrich Wührer, piano, Arnold Schönberg, conductor.
possible hostile reaction from the public, a precaution that ultimately was unnecessary. 60 Other
works performed include the Chamber Symphony, op. 9, and Lieder from op. 6: “Verlassen,”
“Der Wanderer,” “Traumleben,” and “Am Wegrand.”
Along with his wife, Schoenberg lived in Barcelona from 1931 to 1932; their daughter
Nuria was born in Barcelona 7 May 1932. In an 8 October 1931 issue of the Mirador, Gerhard
jubilantly announced that “[a]n item of news that will surely cause a commotion in our artistic
nucleus: Arnold Schoenberg is in Barcelona.”61 On 17 October 1931, Schoenberg wrote from
Barcelona to Alexander Amersdorfer at the Academy of Arts in Berlin, informing the professor
“[s]ince the bad summer has caused a considerable worsening of my asthma, my doctor insists
on my spending some time longer in the South, in a warm climate.”62
In 1931, Manuel de Falla and Gerhard met a few days before the arrival of Schoenberg.
According to Gerhard, Falla remarked "[w]ell, I hope that your lovely Mediterranean landscape
may have a good influence on him; perhaps he will write some more 'tuneful' music here."63
Learning of the comment made by Falla, Schoenberg sardonically replied "[w]hy, to write good
music a backroom in Berlin with no view at all is good enough for me, I think." 64 According to
Schoenberg, Falla wrote to him that he wished to observe the influence of the Spanish climate.
In response, Schoenberg later recounts that he spontaneously parodied Falla’s “Ritual Fire
Dance” from El amor brujo in reaction at the piano.65
Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt, Schoenberg: His Life, World and Work (New York: Schirmer Books, 1977), 304.
Robert Gerhard, “Arnold Schönberg,” Mirador, 8 October 1931, 5. “Una notícia que segurament ha de causar
sensació en els nostres nuells artístics: Arnold Schönberg és a Barcelona.”
Dika Newlin, Schoenberg Remembered (New York: Pendragon Press, 1980), 132-3.
Gerhard, “Schoenberg Reminiscences,” 61.
Schoenberg encountered difficulties walking up the hill to the house that he and his wife
resided while living in Barcelona in 1931, taking the obstacle in stride:
One day on this road he observed a donkey—“monkey” he insisted on calling it in spite
of his wife’s frantic corrections from third row back—ascending the hill in a most
peculiar manner. Instead of walking straight up the hill, it was systematically zigzagging
from side to side of the road. At first he merely laughed at this strange natural
phenomenon, but the more he thought, the more the donkey’s idea looked good to
him. So finally he tried it out—and it worked, for it materially reduced his fatigue by
reducing the steepness of the slope. “This,” he concluded, “first time I ever learned
something from an ASS!”66
The extended visit to Barcelona by Schoenberg led to many performances of his works as well
as new compositions by the Austrian master.
According to Gerhard, the presence of Schoenberg in Barcelona proved that the Catalan
city had achieved international recognition: “Arnold Schoenberg is today, indisputably, the
figure of greatest magnitude in contemporary music. His stay in Barcelona, we can say without
hyperbole, confers passage to our city the category of world musical capital.”67 Addressing
Catalan readers unfamiliar with the music of Schoenberg, Gerhard wrote that the only
approach to understand the music was through listening:
It would childish to pretend to explain the music of Schoenberg. The technical problem,
in the first place, does not interest the public. Words, on the other hand, cannot explain
the music. The music would not be music if words could explain it. One will not
understand from the outside, the music of Schoenberg. Or be able to claim it, in certain
manner, to understand it through the way of theoretical analysis. There is only one way:
to listen, to listen and to listen; simply.68
Gerhard, “Arnold Schönberg.” “Arnold Schönberg és avui, indiscutiblement, la figura de major magnitude de la
música contemporània. La seva estada a Barcelona, podriem dir sense hyperbole, confereix passatgerament a la
nostra ciutat la categoria de capital musical del món.”
Gerhard, “Arnold Schönberg.” “Seria pueril pretender explicar la música de Schönberg. El problema tècnic, en
primer lloc, no interessa al public. La paraula, per altra banda, no pot explicar la música. La música no seria música
si la paraula pogués explicar-la. Hom no podrà arribar des de fora la música de Schönberg. I seria pretender-ho, en
certa manera, volver arribar-hi pel camí de l’anàlisi teòric. Hi ha una sola manera: escoltar, escoltar i escoltar;
In the month of April 1932, Barcelona was the site of four concerts with ties to the
Second Viennese School. Schoenberg directed the Orquestra Pau Casals on April 3 as part of the
Associació Obera de Concerts, directing his Verklärte Nacht, the symphonic poem Pelleas und
Melisande, Orchestral Songs op. 8, and an orchestral arrangement by Schoenberg of J.S. Bach’s
Prelude and Fugue BWV 552. On April 5 and 7, Anton Webern conducted works by Schubert,
Schoenberg, Beethoven, and Mahler. The April 9 piano concert by Polish pianist Eduard
Steuermann included the works Busoni’s In the Court of Turandot, Ravel’s Ondine, Debussy’s
L’ile joyeuse, and Schoenberg’s Suite, op. 25.
While in Barcelona, Schoenberg continued to compose, completing a cello concerto for
Pau Casals, based on a keyboard work by Monn. In 1931, he penned Klavierstück op 33b, and in
1932, finished the second act of the opera Moses and Aaron. Gerhard, familiar with the
adversities associated with public acceptance, admired Schoenberg, writing at his time of
death: “There was also something truly quixotic in his burning sense of mission, which to me
was absolutely fascinating. And it seems so fitting that his earthly career should have been a
long series of defeats in public, from each one of them he emerges in our eyes not the lesser
but truly the greater figure.”69
INSTITUTE OF CATALAN STUDIES & THE BIBLIOTECA DE CATALUNYA
In 1934, Gerhard began work in the music section of the Institute of Catalan Studies and
the Biblioteca de Catalunya under the Spanish musicologist Higini Anglès, editing the music of
eighteenth-century Catalan composers. During this period, Gerhard worked with the
Gerhard, “Schoenberg Reminiscences,” 62-3.
compositions of Catalan-born composers Domingo Terradellas (1713-1751), Antonio Soler
(1729-1783), and José Pla (1728-1762).70 Before studying with Schoenberg in Vienna and Berlin,
the Catalan composer closely examined contrapuntal works from the Spanish Renaissance
under the tutelage of the eminent Spanish musicologist and composer Pedrell. Gerhard
returned to investigate early music after his studies with Schoenberg, and Gerhard attempted
to forge connections with the former glory of Catalonia and its musical past—forming a musical
continuum with an independent and vibrant medieval Catalonia, and by extension the
Renaissance—with modern national Catalan aspirations. Gerhard perceived atonality in
evolutionary terms, as the next progression of musical development. While modern and
innovative, his music never manifested a pronounced or complete break from the past,
reflecting the influence of Pedrell as well as the Second Viennese School.
I.S.C.M. FESTIVAL IN BARCELONA
In 1936—only months before the outbreak of Spanish Civil War—the fourteenth
meeting of International Society for Contemporary Music (I.S.C.M.), along with the third
International Musicological Society Congress, took place in Barcelona.71 In Amsterdam during
the 1933 I.S.C.M conference, both the Barcelona and Madrid delegates of the I.S.C.M. met to
propose having a future meeting of the society in the Catalan capital with the financial support
Gerhard transcribed and edited Domingo Terradellas’ opera in three acts, La Merope. A composer of Italian
opera seria, Terradellas, in 1743, received acclaim in Rome for his opera La Merope. He often included wind
instruments in accompanied recitative. Gerhard also transcribed and edited six quintets for two violins, viola, cello,
and keyboard obbligato by Antonio Soler. Organist and later maestro de capilla at El Escorial, Soler became familiar
with the music of Domenico Scarlatti. In 1762, he published a treatise on modulation. The quintets were composed
for the Prince Gabriel in 1776, and in the gallant style. In addition, Gerhard edited a trio sonata by José Pla, an
important musician and composer that belonged to a Catalan family of oboists.
Adolfo Salazar, “Los festivales de la Sociedad Internacional de Música Contemporánea en Barcelona, I,” El Sol,
April 23, 1936, 2; Nearly eighty papers read.
of the Catalan government.72 In 1934, no Catalan delegates attended the I.S.C.M. conference in
Florence; however, Spanish composers Óscar Esplá, Salvador Bacarisse, and Adolfo Salazar
attended and they offered to hold a future conference in Barcelona. 73 In 1935 Roberto Gerhard,
Enrique Fernández Arbós, Ricard Lamote de Grignon, Óscar Esplá, Salvador Bacarisse, Adolfo
Salazar met again in Prague to dicuss celebrating the I.S.C.M. conference in Barcelona.74 In the
end, no financial support could be provided and the conference in the Catalan capital was in
jeopardy. Presiding over both the International Musicological Society and International Society
for Contemporary Music, Edward J. Dent suggested combining both conferences in Barcelona
as a financial solution.75 In addition, the conferences required the financial support of
individuals, motivating Salazar’s chastisement of the Spanish government in the newspaper El
Sol: “If [Arbós] had not offered to loan the State (the State!) the approximately eighty thousand
pesetas that were necessary … they could not have held the meeting, nor the accompanying
The conferences held in Barcelona brought great enthusiasm, as Salazar wrote: “these
days in Barcelona exist moments of great musical and musicological euphoria.”77 He predicted
that the conference would be equal in quality to previous conferences: “Barcelona, overflowing
with joy and satisfaction to put together musically and musicologically at the same high
Adolfo Salazar, “La XIV reunión de la Sociedad Internacional de Música Contemporánea en Barcelona, II,” El Sol,
April 24, 1936, 2.
Ibid. At the Barcelona meeting of the I.S.C.M., Gerhard served on the jury for the upcoming meeting in Paris.
Ibid. At the end of the conferences, Dent gave special thanks to Manuel de Falla, Higini Anglès, and Roberto
Ibid. “no se hubiera ofrecido a adelantar al Estado (¡al Estado!) las ochenta mil pesetas aproximadamente que
eran necesarias…no hubiera podido realizarse la reunión, ni los festivales anejos.”
Ibid. “Barcelona vive en estos días momentos de gran euforia musical y musicológica”
standards as Frankfurt or Florence, Siena or Oxford, Liège or Prague is just and deserved.”78 The
spotlight that the I.S.C.M. conference provided also served as an opportunity for Spanish
orchestras to demonstrate their competence on the world stage. Salazar hoped that the Pau
Casals Orchestra, directed by Enrique Fernández Arbós and Bartolomé Pérez Casas would
“demonstrate to the foreigners that our orchestras and their directors can compete with the
most famous in the world.”79 As was routine at previous conferences, attendees visited
attractions of the locale. Conference-goers had the opportunity to hear Spanish polyphonic
music at the hallowed monastery of Monserrat and enjoy traditional music as well as dance at
the Pueblo Español, situated in Montjuïc.80
In addition to the Pablo Casals Orchestra, Salazar contended that:
the Orfeó Català has been a powerful element in the formation of a Catalan
consciousness. The current generation would not be what it is today without the Orfeó
Català taking part in the nationalist movement of the admirable region: a clear-cut
Romantic movement, with a number of current theories adorned with other trendier
shades—clear-cut Romanticism in its last stages, that of a music echoed from its first
moments in the modernist buildings from the "fin de siècle," where the Orfeó Català
and its instrumentalists are housed.81
Salazar relegated the Orfeó Català to an instrument of an outdated Catalan nationalism:
Perhaps that nationalism ignored, as it continues to be ignored in today's politics, its
direct junction with a movement that has already closed its cycle ... perhaps that
Adolfo Salazar, “Los festivales de la Sociedad Internacional de Música Contemporánea en Barcelona, I.” El Sol,
April 23, 1936, 2. “Barcelona disborda de alegria, y su satisfacción por verse, musical, y musicológicamente, a la
altura de Fráncfort o de Florencia, de Siena o de Oxford, de Lieja o de Praga, es justa y merecida.”
Adolfo Salazar, “El III Congreso de musicologia,” El Sol, April 21, 1936, 2. “que acreditarán ante los extranjeros
que nuestras orquestas y sus directoras pueden competir con los más afamados del mundo.”
Adolfo Salazar, “La XIV Reunion de la S.I.M.C. en Barcelona, IV,” El Sol, April 29, 1936, 2.
Ibid. “El Orfeón Catalán ha sido un elemento poderoso en la formación de la conciencia catalana. La generación
actual no seria lo que es sin la parte que el Orfeón tomó en el movimiento nacionalista de la admirable región: un
movimiento de neto cuño romántico, que algunos teóricos actuales adornan con otros matices más a la moda.
Romanticismo neto, en sus últimas etapas, el de la música que resonó desde sus primeros instantes en los edificios
del modernismo “fin de siècle”, donde el orfeón y la banda se albergan.”
"modernism" also ignored the last leaf on the old tree of the baroque post-Romantic.
What we hear nevertheless live is not vibration, but resonance.82
As expected, organizers of the conference programmed a large number of Spanish and
Catalan works, which Salazar justified: “Spanish music appears with greater abundance at these
festivals for the simple reason that the concerts are taking place in Spain—the proportionality
of Catalan music also has no reason other than that.”83 In his review of the festival for the
newspaper El Sol, he inquired: “The question for now, do Spanish composers belonging to the
I.S.C.M. need their works performed in public in Spain as they would abroad?”84 Answering his
own question, Salazar wrote: “among the Catalans, Roberto Gerhard and Manuel Blancafort are
known in Europe.”85 According to Salazar, the important works that took place at the
conference were not Spanish or Catalan, but instead Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto and Béla
Bartók’s String Quartets.86
According to Salazar, the use of advanced chromaticism is to be international and to
This internationalism we might call "by extension" alongside nationalism "by extension"
of those who reject all contact with national scenes, has its clearest manifestations in
politics. It is not the same to be an internationalist in favor of a cooperative and
collaborative way, to be "non-nationalist" because it rejects any concept of state and
Ibid. “Quizá ese nacionalismo ignoraba entonces, como lo sigue ignorando en la politica de hoy, su entronque
directo con un movimiento que ya ha cerrado su ciclo…Quizá también aquel “modernismo” ignoraba que era la
última hoja en el árbol viejo del barroquismo postromántico. Lo que escuchamos todavia vivo no es vibración aún,
Adolfo Salazar, “La XIV Reunion de la S.I.M.C. en Barcelona, V,” El Sol, May 3, 1936, 6. “La música española
figura con mayor abundancia en estos festivales por la sencilla razón de que se verifican en España. La
proporcionalidad de la música catalana no tiene tampoco más razón que esa.”
Ibid. “Ahora bien ¿necesitaban los autores españoles de S.I.M.C. para que sus obras se ejecutasen en público en
España tanto como en el Extranjero?”
Ibid. “Entre los catalanes, Roberto Gerhard y Manuel Blancafort son conocidos en Europa.”
nation, an international anarchism mode. And this anarchist internationalism is one that
is practiced largely through the trend for advanced-chromatic musical routes.87
Salazar warned of the dangers of Catalan nationalism:
My main point of concern is that it also extends the evil within the political zone. The
reading of some Catalan books on historical subjects, mainly, made me suspect that this
may be carried out in Catalonia as a policy of forced historicism, in the Teutonic mode of
German history, like [Johann Gottlieb] Fichte, whose consequences cannot yet be
measured, although they can be presumed.88
In El Sol, Salazar revealed to his readers that he detected the influence of central European
music on Catalan composers:
The German influence is strong in Pedrell, and despite its appearances, exists in the
profound pianism of Albéniz and sentimentality of Granados. With all his Parisian
qualities, Mompou is related more to the German romanticism of the miniatures than
with the true French spirit, and I have to talk about the senior members of the
profession in Catalonia or those between two ages, like Pahissa.89
Salazar shed light on the source of for the attraction of Germanic music by Catalans:
But none of this is an intrinsic Germanism in Catalan musicians, but simply responds to
their education, which was, as throughout Spain, fundamentally Germanic. Our concept
of music has been via Germany, its teachings and daily experience of its music. Spanish
musicians, until very recently, have raised their musical awareness on the foundation of
Ibid. “Este internacionalismo que podriamos llamar “por extensión” al lado del nacionalismo “por extensión” de
quienes rechazan todo contacto con las esencias nacionales, tiene sus más claras manifestaciones en la politica. No
es lo mismo ser internacionalista en gracia de un sentido cooperativo y de colaboración, a ser “no nacionalista”
porque se repudia todo concepto de Estado o nación, al modo del anarquismo internacional. Y este anarquismo
internacionalismo es el que practica en gran parte la tendencia ultracromática mitropista.”
Ibid. “Mi principal punto de temor es que también se extiende el mal en la zona politica. La lectura de algunas
libros catalanes sobre temas históricos, principalmente, me ha hecho sospechar que pudiera llevarse a cabo en
Cataluña una politica de historicismo forzado, al modo de la teutonización de la historia alemana, desde Fichte,
cuyas consecuencias no pueden medirse todavia, aunque sí pueden presumirse.”
Ibid. “La influencia alemana es fuerte en Pedrell, y a pesar de las apariencias, existe en lo profundo del pianismo
de Albéniz y de la sentimentalidad de Granados. Con todo su parisianismo, Mompou se emparenta más con el
romanticismo alemán de las pequeñas formas que con el verdadero espiritu francés, y no he de hablar de los
decanos de la profesión en Cataluña o de los que están entre dos edades, como Pahissa.”
German musical language and its aesthetic system, such as students or teachers of
The only exception for Salazar was Gerhard: “the case is different for Gerhard, in whom I see
another kind of Germanism ‘and with good cause’.”91 Salazar rejected the racial theories of the
previous century to explain the attraction of German music to Catalan composers:
It was the peremptory norm in the nineteenth century, but more to think that a Catalan
has to react musically "in German,” because there are racial reasons, it does not seem
to me mandatory, nor do I believe in all those racial theories offered, that are not
themselves, if not of a slowly outdated [Houston Stewart] Chamberlain.92
Music composed during this period took place in tumultuous times, a surge in fascism in
Europe and the Spanish Civil War. Gerhard returned to composing vocal music, employing
modern Catalan poetry. With the exception of his Catalan songs, Gerhard’s works during this
period utilized larger musical forces: a cantata, a ballet, and an orchestral work. In Barcelona,
the Catalan composer continued to write modern music; however, in some of his songs and the
light orchestral work Albada, interludi i dansa (1937), he reverted back to the use of tonality.
Ibid. “Pero nada de esto supone un germanismo intrinseco en los músicos catalanes, sino que simplemente
responde a su educación, que ha sido, como en toda España, fundamentalmente germánica. Nuestro concepto de
la música se ha hecho a través de Alemania, de sus enseñanzas y de la experiencia diaria de su música. Los músicos
españoles, hasta una época muy reciente, han levantado su conciencia musical sobre el cimiento del idioma
musical alemán y de su sistema estético, como los estudiantes o profesores de Metafisca.”
Ibid. “El caso es distinto en Gerhard, en quien veo otra clase de germanismo ‘et pour cause’.”
Ibid. “Ha sido la norma imperativa en el siglo XIX; más de eso a pensar que el catalán tiene que reaccionar
musicalmente “en alemán”, porque haya razones raciales que lo abonen, no me parece obligatorio, como tampoco
creo ofertas todas esas teorías raciales, que no son sí no el relente de un Chamberlain trasnochado.” Houston
Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927), the son-in-law of Richard Wagner, authored anti-Semitic writings that
advocated for racial supremacy of the “German” people.
L’ALTA NAIXENÇA DEL REI EN JAUME (1932)93
According to Gerhard’s wife Poldi, the Catalan poet Josep Carner (1889-1970)
complained to Gerhard that he had not set any of his poems to music.94 Ultimately, Carner
suggested the text, a reworking of a poem from his faux-medieval novel La malvestat d’Oriana
(1910).95 Carner’s text originates from the thirteenth century Catalan Four Great Chronicles that
recounted the life of James I, the Conqueror (1208-1276). Carner based his version upon
ecclesiastical writings of Bernat Desclot and Ramon Muntaner.96 Carner’s original poem consists
of 246 lines and covers the moments leading to James I’s conception.97
Preceding the times of James I, a feudal dispute in Catalonia and southern France
existed concerning the unknown future and succession of the suzerainty of Montpellier. The
citizens of Montpellier proposed as a solution the marriage of Maria de Montpellier and King
Peter “the Catholic” of Aragon and count of Barcelona; however, their union resulted in only an
unhappy and childless marriage. In order to produce an heir, King Peter had to be deceived by
the queen and the inhabitants of Montpellier; the queen disguised at night as the king’s
mistress resulted in the extraordinary yet amusing circumstances of King James I’s conception.
Historically, James I eventually succeeded to the throne at age five and ultimately became a
legendary king of Aragon and Catalonia, as well as being responsible for the reconquest from
the Moors of the Balearic Islands and Valencia. An appropriate context for a Catalan national
Boosey & Hawkes published L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume posthumously in 1988.
Geoffrey J. Walker, “Gerhard’s Cantata,” Tempo 139 (1981): 12.
David Drew, “Gerhard’s Cantata,” Tempo 139 (1981): 18. Much later, Gerhard planned using L’alta naixença del
rei en Jaume as a prelude to an opera-oratorio. The title The Noble Birth of the Soverign Lord King James, as the
text only recounts how Jaume I was conceived, suggests that the work would latter also include the birth of James.
In the 1960s, Gerhard considered expanding the cantata for the Cambridge University Music Society.
agenda, the text is in Catalan and deals with a historically important Catalan figure that
importantly predates the unification of the two historic kingdoms of Aragon and Castile in 1479.
The cantata L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume (The Noble Birth of the Soverign Lord King
James) is in five movements and composed for soprano, baritone, mixed choir, and orchestra.
Gerhard arranged the five movements (Introducció i Lletania, Divino, Follia, Passacaglia, and
Coral) symmetrically around the central movement Follia. Gerhard employs modality, tonality,
free tonality, as well as advanced chromaticism in the cantata.
In the first movement the choir sings of the town of Montpellier, praying for a week and
seeking a miracle. The opening movement begins with a melody in flute that is evocative of a
traditional Catalan melody or goig, a religious Catalan genre (see Musical Example 6.1), which
returns in the second movement. The choral sections in the cantata are reminiscent of
medieval music, often moving in parallel motion (see Musical Example 6.2).
Ex. 6.1. Roberto Gerhard, L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume, movement I, meas. 1-3.
Ex. 6.2. Roberto Gerhard, L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume, movement I, meas. 13.
The solo soprano in Divino sings to the Virgin Mary, asking her for relief from their
worries and to grant them this one request. The second movement begins similarly as the
opening movement with shared thematic material in the solo soprano part (see Musical
Ex. 6.3. Roberto Gerhard, L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume, movement II, meas. 1-6.
In the third movement, both the solo baritone and choir sing about the trickery involved
in the conception of James I. The baritone solo in the third movement evoke plainchant with
repeating notes and narrow range (see Musical Example 6.4)
Ex. 6.4. Roberto Gerhard, L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume, movement III, meas. 6-8.
The choir in the fourth movement reveals that the entire town knows of how the king
was tricked to produce an heir. Gerhard introduces a highly chromatic ground—ten notes from
the chromatic scale, omitting only pitches C and E—in the fourth movement Passacaglia (see
Musical Example 6.5).98 The choir sings praises to God for forgiving their scheming. Gerhard
utilized the choir to its greatest extent in the last movement of the cantata. The composer
continued to evoke medieval music, connecting the music with Catalonia’ historic past, with the
use of a restrained SATB choir, imitation, slow moving bass, and rhythmic complexity (see
Musical Example 6.6).
Ex. 6.5. Roberto Gerhard, L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume, movement IV.
Ex. 6.6. Roberto Gerhard, L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume, movement IV, meas. 9.
Gerhard conducted the fourth and fifth movements of the cantata at the 1933 I.S.C.M.
Festival in Amsterdam. At the 1933 I.S.C.M. Festival, the cantata received first prize from
The ground, highly octatonic, reflects the potential influence of Stravinsky.
Universal Edition, Alban Berg, Ernst Krenek, and Anton Webern serving as judges for the
MADRIGAL A SITGES (193?)
The Catalan song Madrigal a Sitges exists only in manuscript and looks as if to be in the
later stages of composition, written in pencil and ink. Gerhard set the poetry of Josep Carner
(1884-1970), that makes references to the coastal town of Sitges near Barcelona:
Oh Sitges, cel i calitges,
mar al peu, clavells al niu,
blanc d’Espanya que enlluerna
les espurnes de l’estiu.
Cor què vols, cor què desitges
visc en tu, que tota plaus;
tres noies tenen ulls negres,
tes cases tenen ulls blaus.
Si jo et deixo, sols a mitges,
dóna’m una flor ben lleu,
dóna’m una margarida
ull de sol, ales de neu.
Oh Sitges, heaven and beaches,
sea walk, carnations nest,
Spain dazzles in white
sparks of summer.
Their hearts, their hearts want that
I live in you, all that you please;
Three girls have black eyes
you have blue eyes.
If I leave you, only half,
give me a very light flower
give me a daisy
One eye, wings of snow.
Madrigal a Sitges, for voice and piano, is not a virtuosic work. The short song is in the key of E
major, with the musical form of ABA’, and with the tempo marking Allegretto. The text is set
syllabically with a chordal accompaniment (see Musical Example 6.7). The vocal part is narrow
in range. A predominately tonal work, the playful piano accompaniment reaches a brief
dissonant moment before returning to the A’ section.
Ex. 6.7. Roberto Gerhard, “Madrigal a Sitges,” meas. 1-3.
LLASSA MESQUINA (193?)
Gerhard labels the Catalan art song Llassa mesquina as Canço in the manuscript. The
work was never published and looks as if to be in the later stages of composition. The work is
dedicated to Montserrat Samsó de Clausells. In the song, Gerhard set a love poem by Pere
Serafi, a sixteenth-century Catalan poet:
Llassa mesquina què fare
puix mon amant s’en vol partir?
La nit i jorn jo ploraré
com u que és cert que ha de morir
Doldré’s podran de ma dolor
los que han sentit penes d’amor.
Bè m’ha promès que tornarà
per çó no vull desesperar;
que sois a mi vol ben amar
i que altra amor no el detindrà.
Mas sa partida
que en ser absent mon dolç amic.
¿On trobaré ja més abric?
Alas, miserly I will go
since my lover wants me to leave?
The night and day I will cry
as one that is certain to be killed
left all alone,
Of my pain will hurt
those who have barely heard of love.
Well I promised to return
Because I do not want to stifle;
only you want me to love well
and what other love will not stop.
But her departure
I find it painful,
that was absent in my sweet friend.
Where will I find it warmer?
Llassa mesquina is also not a virtuosic work for voice and piano. The song is in the key of D
minor, and is highly chromatic with modal inflections. Llassa mesquina has the musical form of
ABCDA’BCD and poetic structure of ababccddeffegghh. The work has as slower tempo marking
of Andantino. The text is set syllabically, with chordal accompaniment (see Musical Example
Ex. 6.8. Roberto Gerhard, “Llassa mesquina,” meas. 1-3.
The melody of Catalan art song Ventall only exists in manuscript, and is currently housed
at the Biblioteca de Catalunya.99 For Ventall, Gerhard utilized the unpublished poetry of
Ventura Gassol (1893-1980) a friend of Gerhard and member of the Catalan political party
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya:
trenca lim xic l’alè,
sigueu de tots d mes serè,
que sempre que la sento canta aixi.
Tinc por que un dia arribi a fer-ho tan fi
tan prim i tan enlaire
que la veu se li trenqui a mig aire,
se li trenqui a mig aire entre dos cels.
Pluja de vidre de gotic d’estils.
breaks a little encouragement,
be all the more serene,
whenever you feel like singing.
I fear that one day you get to do it so fine,
and as thin as the air,
that her voice breaking mid-air,
breaking mid-air between two skies.
Rain of gothic glass.100
The complete manuscript is housed at Cambridge University.
The poem was handwritten and given as a gift to Conchita Badia and lost in the Spanish Civil War.
Set syllabically, the melody of Ventall is atonal, but it is not a serial composition. The brief work
has the expressive marking of Un poco rubato; quasi recitativo as well as the marking mezza
voce (see Musical Example 6.9). The sparse accompaniment consists of a bass line in the left
hand and chords in the right hand.
Ex. 6.9. Roberto Gerhard, “Ventall”, meas. 1-3.
After the surrealist artist Joan Miró worked with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo on the
ballet Jeux d’enfants, the ballet company commissioned Miró, Gerhard and poet Josep Vicenç
Foix for a ballet, which ultimately would become the genesis for the symphonic work Ariel.101
Miró contacted both Foix and Gerhard for the project. In a 1934 letter to Gerhard, Miró—
charged with its stage design—wrote to the Catalan composer about the project and its use of
“absolute” music: “As my understanding with you and the poetry of Foix is absolute, it takes no
effort to confine myself to the spirit of the two of you, thus with you, conserving this unity that
allows me to attain superior results.”102
Homs, Robert Gerhard and His Music, 37.
Joan Miró to Roberto Gerhard, September 29, 1934. “Com que la meva compenetració amb vós i amb la poesia
de Foix és absoluta, no em cal cap esforç per a cenyir me á l’esperit de vosaltres dos, aixo vaja vos sol conservant
aquesta unitat que em permetrè d’atenyer alts resultat.”
In 1936 Gerhard, along with Miró and Foix, published an article in the journal Musica
Viva on the theories behind Ariel.103 According to Gerhard, no scenario—in the conventional
sense—was used for the proposed ballet, writing that “The music, the maquettes and some
ideas exist for this ballet; however, no ‘scenario’ exists.”104 Each contributor, in their area of
expertise (poetry, music, and visual arts), approached the work independently, as Gerhard
explained, “The poet, painter and composer could consider the theme of the ballet, each one in
their orbit of expertise with the freedom as well as capacity of conception that could lead to
new results.”105 According to Gerhard, ultimately the ballet would be shaped by the
choreographer: “It is he [the choreographer] who, in the end, does the ballet. He is, therefore,
responsible for synthesizing the three ‘absolute’ concepts of the composer, painter and poet, in
the process of exercising the specific choreography.”106
Gerhard approached Ariel from a symphonic perspective: “I conceived my work as a
composition of symphonic character to serve as accompaniment to a ‘dance poem’ whose
protagonist would be Ariel, the sylph from The Tempest by Shakespeare.”107 According to
Homs, it was this symphonic character that Leonide Massine opposed and prevented its
performance as a ballet.108 From The Tempest, Gerhard argued: “The topic suggested a
Robert Gerhard, Joan Miró, and Josep Vicenç Foix. “Ariel: Música, maquetes i idees per a un ballet,” Música Viva
(July 1936): 8-13.
Robert Gerhard, “Música, maquetas e ideas para un ballet,” Música viva, 2 (July 1936):8-13. “La música, les
maquetes i unes quantes idees per a aquest ballet existeixen. No existeix, en canvi, el ‘llibret’.”
Ibid. “…el poeta, el pintor i el músic podíem plantejar-nos el tema del ballet, cadascun en la seva òrbita, amb
una llibertat i una capacitat de concepció que podien menar a resultats nous.”
Ibid. “És ell qui, al capdavall, realitza el ballet. És ell, per tant, l’encarregat d’arbitar l’aplec efectiu de les tres
concepcions “absolutes” del músic, del pintor i del poeta, en el terreny de la realització coreogràfica concreta.”
Ibid. “He concebut la meva obra com una composició de caràcter simfònic per servir d’acompanyament a un
poema de dansa el protagonista del qual seria Ariel, el silf de “La tempesta” de Shakespeare.”
Homs, Robert Gerhard and His Music, 37.
sequence from the first scene between Prospero and Ariel”109 He selected the Shakespearian
characters because of their contrast: “For my musical intentions, the assumption of two
opposing characters (Ariel, Caliban) was enough.”110 Gerhard envisioned two types of dancers
for Ariel and Caliban, a winged-weightless dancer and contrasting monstrous-heavy type.111 In
addition, Gerhard also envisioned for Miró to build upon on this idea of contrast, employing
imagery from traditional Catalan culture: “I suggested to the painter to visually emphasize the
contrast between our two types of traditional dances in Catalonia: the traditional dance of
Berga, angel of Patum and the giants and big-heads from our traditional parades.”112
In its symphonic version, Ariel has four sections, which Gerhard explained related to The
Tempest: “The conflict takes place across four emotional states corresponding to a very specific
plan of the symphonic composition.”113 He listed the emotions “antagonistic,” “sadness,”
“struggle,” and “anxiety”; the coda represented “outcome.” Gerhard characterized the
structure of Ariel as: “Each of these movements comprises of a series of episodes of varied
stresses and even opposing, but connected by a single line of composition.”114 A tonal work,
Gerhard also employed chromaticism, at moments using all twelve pitches.
In a somewhat pejorative manner, Gerhard described the musical accompaniment of
Ariel as: “The music here aims to serve as accompaniment to the action of the choreography.
Robert Gerhard, Joan Miró, and Josep Vicenç Foix. “Ariel: Música, maquetes i idees per a un ballet,” 9. “El tema
me’l va suggerir una seqüència de la primera escena entre Pròsper i Ariel”
Ibid. “Per a les meves intencions musicals n’hi havia prou amb la suposició de dos caràcters antagònics (ArielCaliban).”
Ibid. “Dos tipus de ballarins corresponen a aquests dos caràcters: a) tipus alat, ingràvid; b) tipus monstruós,
Ibid. “Jo suggeria al pintor que recalqués plàsticament el contrast entre dos tipus tradicionals dels nostres balls
populars a Catalunya: l’àngel (de la Patum, dansa popular de Berga) i els gegants i capgrossos de les nostres
Ibid. “El conflicte travessa quatre estats ben determinats que corresponen al pla simfònic de la composició.”
Ibid. “Cadascun d’aquests moviments comprèn una sèrie d’episodis d’accent variat i fins i tot oposat, però
enllaçats per una única línea de composició.”
Do not perceive this term as a euphemism, but its musical sense.”115 In place of mimicking the
motion of the proposed dancers, Gerhard perceived his counterpoint in musical terms: “To
accompany—except in cases of a primitive parallel—does not mean to double, but rather to
oppose or strictly in ‘counterpoint.’”116 In its early origins as a ballet, he conceived the
contributions of Miró and Foix as counterpoint to his music: “In this principle of contrapuntal
accompaniment, it should inspire, in my opinion, the collaboration between the arts involved in
the ballet,” adding “to the contrary, between the participating arts, tension and dissonance
must be maintained and even the possible independence of the initial counterpoint, in a spirit
of collaboration.” 117
Gerhard won the Isaac Albéniz Prize from the Catalan Generalitat for the symphonic
version in 1935. Never performed as a ballet in Gerhard’s lifetime, the work premiered at the
1936 I.S.C.M. festival in Barcelona.
ALBADA, INTERLUDI I DANSA (1937)
While in Spain, Gerhard composed for the BBC and its program series dedicated to old
and new Spanish music, the initial intended audience of Gerhard’s Albada, Interludi i Dansa was
English—not Spanish or Catalan. At the time, interest in Spanish music was due largely to the
events related to the Spanish Civil War. On 27 October 1937, the work premiered on radio with
a BBC broadcast, the BBC Orchestra performing and Gerhard conducting. The symphonic work
Ibid. “La música pretén aqui servir d’acompanyament a l’acció coreogràfica. Cal no entendre aquesta expressió
com un eufemisme, sinó en el seu sentit musical.”
Ibid. “Acompanyar—tret dels casos d’un paral·lelisme primitiu—no significa doblar, sinó més aviat oposar o
Ibid. “En aquest principi de l’acompanyament contrapuntístic s’ha d’inspirar, al meu parer, la col·laboració entre
les arts que intervenen en el ballet. Al contrari, cal que es mantinguin entre les arts participants la tensió, la
dissonància i fins i tot la possible independència inicial, en un esperit contrapuntístic de col·laboració.”
received a second performance on 24 June 1938 at Queen’s Hall as part of the ISCM Festival
held in London. Hermann Scherchen conducted the ISCM performance, and supposedly, Béla
Bartók, who was in attendance, gave the work high praise.118 Albada, Interludi i Dansa received
its Catalan premiere on 14 May 1938, conducted by Joan Lamote. The program notes of the
ISCM performance positioned Albada, Interludi i Dansa within the context of the Spanish Civil
War, explaining “the circumstances of the occasion most certainly determined the inspiration of
the work, for the composer’s circumstances were those of Spain to-day, dominated by one
element—the tension of popular feeling.”119 In stark contrast to Gerhard’s other compositions
of the period, the Catalan composer, reacting to the events of the Spanish Civil War, eschewed
many of his modernist applications in the composition of Albada, Interludi i Dansa, as the
program notes expressed: “Popular influence on the arts has always been particularly vital in
Spain, in music as well as in poetry, but never, probably, has the need for fusion of the general
with the particular been so strongly felt as it is at the present time.” 120
The title of the work evokes Catalonia’s past and present: the troubadour genre of song
known as alba and the traditional festival music performed at daybreak called albada.121 The
music brings to mind traditional Catalan music, as the program notes explain: “The nature of
this song makes it, in a way, the antithesis of the nocturne, and the composer’s idea has been
to write a kind of morning serenade in a very simple form, using tunes that are popular in spirit,
Homs, Robert Gerhard and His Music, 38.
Concert program, I.S.C.M. Concert, May 14, 1938.
Albada is also a genre of traditional Catalan music, utilizing grallas asnd timbals played in the mornings of
festivals. Troudours remained active in Southern France as well as Catalonia.
though not in origin.”122 Evoking the traditional albada with its grallas, Gerhard employed
oboes in parallel motion (see Musical Example 6.10).
Ex. 6.10. Roberto Gerhard, Albada, meas. 1.
The outer movements of Albada, Interludi i Dansa serve as the substantial movements
of the work, albeit the entire work is an example of light music. While the work employs no key
signature, each section maintains a tonal center in a manner reminiscent of Bartók. In addition,
the work contains numerous ostinatos within the framework of asymmetrical rhythms.
During this stage, Gerhard was recognized for being un català mundial (an international
Catalan), at last acknowledged for his works that were on a par with the music of other great
European contemporary composers. His early works reaffirmed the shifting cultural discourse
within Catalonia, which was ultimately interrupted by the Spanish Civil War.
Concert program, I.S.C.M. Concert, May 14, 1938.
The early works of Roberto Gerhard mirror the shifting cultural discourse within Catalan
nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century, which advocated the promotion of
modernist ideologies over the vestiges of the past or the rustic countryside—to be Catalan and
European. A growing number of Catalan nationalists sought cultural independence from the
rest of Spain by participating internationally. Numerous Catalan artists sought international
membership, principally European, while integrating components of catalanisme with
modernism (as with the case of Joan Miró). Proclaimed as “un català mundial” (an international
Catalan) by the press, the music of Gerhard matched in creativity and modernity with the works
of other contemporary Europeans.
Initially, Gerhard’s earliest attempts at composition exhibited only a basic understanding
of counterpoint and harmony—generic works without any Catalan references. From 1916 to
1921, Gerhard studied with the Catalan composer and musicologist Felipe Pedrell.
In addition to composition, Pedrell served as an advocate for both a Spanish national song and
the music of the Spanish Renaissance. However, unlike his teacher, Gerhard avoided Spanish
references; instead his music exhibited elements of Catalan nationalism, employing Catalan
poetry as well as traditional Catalan music. Furthermore, during this period, Gerhard focused
on Catalan folksong, organizing the collection of traditional Catalan music for the Arxiu
d’Etnografia i Folklore de Catalunya. Gerhard’s earliest musical successes begin to reveal the
paradigm shift in Catalan nationalism. In his song cycle L’infantament meravellós de
Schahrazada, Gerhard set the noucentisme poetry of Josep Maria López-Picó and used Catalan
expressive markings. His Trio No. 2 bears a striking resemblance to an earlier Trio by Maurice
Ravel and Gerhard’s piano miniatures Dos apunts shares similarities with Arnold Schoenberg’s
Op. 19. Before looking outside Spain for musical direction, Gerhard traveled to Andalusia in a
failed attempt to study with Manuel de Falla—the most celebrated Spanish composer of the
period. In 1923, Gerhard once again left Spain and began his study with Schoenberg in Vienna.
Gerhard followed his teacher to Berlin, and the two would ultimately forge a lasting
relationship. Gerhard became the first Spaniard to compose atonal music. The Catalan
composer even applied modernist techniques in his overtly Catalan works (Sardanes and
Cançons populars catalanes).
In 1929, he returned to Barcelona, and controversy promptly ensued after a muchanticipated all-Gerhard concert was held to celebrate his homecoming. However, instead of a
triumphant success, Gerhard encountered an almost unmitigated disapproval of his music,
leading to a debate in print (reminiscent of the Monteverdi-Artusi controversy) on the direction
of Catalan concert music—an issue of contentious importance among Catalan nationalists.
Gerhard’s new style of composition exhibited an intricate reconciliation of traditional Catalan
elements with modern Central European musical aesthetics, a manifestation of Catalan
nationalism. Gerhard advocated for modernism, actively participating in Amics de l’Art Nou
(A.D.L.A.N.) with artists such as Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, as well as Compositors
Independents de Catalunya (C.I.C.), which included Catalan composers Frederic Mompou and
Manuel Blancafort. In 1934, Gerhard involved himself with other nationalistic activities, working
at the Biblioteca de Catalunya editing the compositions of eighteenth-century Catalan
composers. Only months before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the fourteenth meeting
of the International Society for Contemporary Music (I.S.C.M.), along with the third
International Musicological Society Congress, were held in Barcelona—Gerhard serving a
primary position in this international occasion, which included the premiere of Alban Berg’s
Gerhard’s musical activities in composition, research, and criticism reflected the shifting
intellectual dialogue taking place in Catalonia; however, all ended in 1939 with the Republican
defeat in the Spanish Civil War, swiftly ending his career in Barcelona as well as his Catalaninfluenced works, leading to a new compositional phase as well as a delayed recognition in his
new life in Cambridge, England.
APPENDIX: INCIPITS OF GERHARD’S EARLY WORKS
Lied (1913-14), Institut d’Estudis Vallencs (IEV)
Sonatine à Carlos (1914), (IEV)
Verger de les galanies (1918), Biblioteca de Cataluny (BC)
Canço d’un doble amor
Trio No. 1 (1916-17), (IEV)
Trio No. 2 (1918), (IEV)
L’infantament meravellós de Schahrazada (1918), (BC)
“Les roses de les temples de l’amiga”
“Sota l’amplada del teu rostre”
“Si els teus cabells són negres com la nit”
“Perquè la por del soroll t’esgarrifa”
“El repòs del teu rull damunt del front”
“Jo t’he donat el meu cor”
“Joc soc el vas del teu secret”
“Càntirs de vidre”
“Igual que la mar fosforescent”
“Melodiós com entremig d’arbredes”
Dos apunts, a. (1921), Cambridge University Library (CUL)
Dos apunts, b. (1922)
Sept Hai-kai (c. 1922), (IEV)
Suite for Winds, Strings, and Piano (1927), (IEV)
El conde sol
String Quartet (1927-28), (IEV)
Concertino for Strings (1927-8), (IEV)
Sonata for Clarinet (1928), (IEV)
Andantino (1928), (IEV)
Wind Quintet (1928), (CUL)
Sardana I (1928), (IEV)
Sardana II (1928), (IEV)
6 Cançons populares catalanes (1928),1 (IEV)
“La mort i la donzella”
“El petit vailet”
14 in manuscript; orch version 1931
“Enemic de les dones”
“Els Ballaires dins un sac”
Ventall (193?), (BC)
Madrigal a Sitges (193?), (BC)
Lassa mesquina (193?), (BC)
L’alta naixença del rei en Jaume (1932), (IEV)
Mvt. I. Introducció i Lletania
Mvt. II. Divino
Mvt. III. Follia
Mvt. IV. Passacaglia
Mvt. V. Coral
Ariel (1934), IEV
Albada, Interludi i Dansa (1937), (IEV)
Mvt. I. Albada
Mvt. II. Interludi
Mvt. III. Dansa
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