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Ernesto Halffter

Born: 1905

Died: 1989

Nationality: Spanish

Publisher: UME

Prior to the generation that produced Ernesto, the Halffter family had not been especially associated with the musical profession. However, the twentieth century saw the emergence of a virtual dynasty through the prodigious compositional activities of Ernesto (1905-1989), his older brother Rodolfo (1900-1988) and their nephew Cristobal (1930-).

His relationship to Manuel de Falla was central to Ernesto’s musical development in the early years of his career as composer but was also instrumental in arranging the publication of his works and through his indefatigable support and promotion of his younger colleague.

In 1928 Halffter married the Portuguese pianist Alice Camara Santos and took up residence in Lisbon from 1935 to 1954. There is considerable diversity in Halffter’s musical output. Many works revisit Baroque and late-Renaissance musical styles, while others refer to the folk music of the Iberian Peninsula. Throughout his oeuvre one is nevertheless struck by the consistency of his polyphonic rigor and his adherence to a tonal language, in spite of the free and colorful use of dissonance.

This sense of the richness of tradition and Halffter’s confidence in his place within its continuum may be the ultimate reflection of the composer’s Spanish identity as well as the touching legacy of an artist of uncommon gifts and generosity.
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