Believing a nation should build its musical foundation on its native folk songs and dances, Catalan pianist and composer Enrique Granados wrote most of his music in the 20th century while taking his inspiration from 18th century Spanish songs and paintings by Francisco de Goya.
Granados wrote pieces for the piano, chamber music, songs, zarzuelas, and an orchestral tone poem based on Dante’s "Divine Comedy." His body of work is relatively small due to his tragic death in 1916, but his colorful “12 Spanish Dances” and “Goyescas,” a suite written for piano, have secured his place in Spanish music as a talented pianist and serious composer.
Enrique Granados’ father was an officer and a band director in the Spanish army, so he naturally began his young son’s lessons in piano and music theory. Granados studied piano and composition in Barcelona and later in Paris before stepping onto the concert stage shortly after 1900.
In concert Granados played many of his own compositions including his “Spanish Dances” and “Goyescas”, his piano suite named after six scenes from the paintings and tapestries of Goya. It premiered in 1911 and was so successful he expanded the composition into an opera. The outbreak of World War I prevented Granados’ opera from premiering in Europe; instead it opened in New York City on January 26, 1916. “Goyescas” is considered to be Granados’ major work.
Enrique Granados’ opera was such a success he was invited to perform for President Woodrow Wilson, but the recital caused Granados and his wife to miss their boat back to Spain. The delay sealed their tragic fate. Enrique and his wife Amparo boarded the Sussex en route to Liverpool, England. The ship was torpedoed by a German submarine and sank in the English Channel. When Granados saw his wife struggling to keep her head above the icy water, he valiantly jumped from his lifeboat in an attempt to save her. Tragically both drowned, ending his promising career as a composer and pianist.