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date: 19 August 2019

Manén, Joan [Juan]locked

  • Lionel Salter

Extract

[Juan]

(b Barcelona, March 14, 1883; d Barcelona, June 26, 1971). Catalan violinist and composer. Precociously gifted, he learnt solfège and piano with his father from the age of three, and at seven played Chopin concertos in public. Meanwhile, at five, he had begun to study the violin with Clemente Ibargueren; he rapidly attained astonishing technical mastery and at the age of nine made his début in Latin America. He made his European début as a violinist in 1898, when he was hailed as a virtuoso of the first rank; he later made five world tours.

Almost entirely self-taught as a composer, Manén had begun to write at 13, and in 1900 he conducted a concert of his own works in Barcelona. His first opera, Juana de Nápoles (produced when he was 19), was well received at the Barcelona Liceu, and he immediately followed this with Acté, for which (as for all his later operas) he wrote his own libretto. He then spent time in Germany, where he acquired an admiration for Wagner and Richard Strauss, which can be observed in his orchestral writing. Strauss’s influence on his harmony can also be particularly heard in his songs. He composed prolifically in many genres, but later destroyed, disowned or radically revised everything he had composed before 1907. This led him, for example, almost completely to rewrite ...

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