Frederic Mompou – Cançons i danses, piano

mompou piano sheet music pdf

Alicia de Larrocha, piano.

Frederic Mompou

Frederic Mompou Dencausse (16 April 1893 – 30 June 1987) was a Catalan composer and pianist. He is remembered for his solo piano music and, to a degree, his songs.

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Early years

Mompou was born in Barcelona to the lawyer Frederic Mompou and his wife Josefina Dencausse, who was of French origin. His brother Josep Mompou (1888–1968) became a painter. His sketch of a simple farmhouse appeared on the covers of all of Frederic’s published music.

Mompou studied piano under Pedro Serra at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu before going to Paris, to study at the Conservatoire de Paris, which was headed by Gabriel Fauré. Mompou had heard Fauré perform in Barcelona when he was nine years old, and his music and performing style had made a powerful and lasting impression on him. He had a letter of introduction to Fauré from Enrique Granados, but it never reached its intended recipient.

He entered the Conservatoire (with another Spaniard, José Iturbi), but studied with Isidor Philipp, head of the piano department. He also took private piano lessons with Ferdinand Motte-Lacroi and harmony and composition lessons with Marcel Samuel-Rousseau. His extreme shyness, introspection and self-effacement meant that he could not pursue a solo career, but chose to devote himself to composition instead. In 1917 he returned to Barcelona, fleeing the war. His first published work, Cants magics, appeared in 1920, mainly as a result of the advocacy of his friend Agustin Quintas.


Mompou returned to Paris in 1921, by which time his music was being regularly performed publicly, by his former teacher Motte-Lacroix and others, and he found himself the darling of Paris. In 1921, his Scènes d’enfants (1915–18), performed by Motte-Lacroix, inspired the French critic Émile Vuillermoz to proclaim Mompou “the only disciple and successor” to Claude Debussy. Mompou himself often performed his own compositions, but only at private soirees, never in public. However, his time in Paris was not easy. He published no music between 1931 and 1941, when he left for his native Catalonia, fleeing the German occupation of Paris.

In that time, his father died and his brother became seriously ill. The Spanish Civil War troubled him greatly. His personal financial situation was often dire enough to lead him away from music and into various business ventures, including an attempt to revive the traditional family bell foundry.

Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet La Casa de los Pájaros (The House of Birds), set to orchestrations by John Lanchbery of various piano pieces by Mompou, was premiered at Sadler’s Wells in London in 1955 and was also staged at the 4th Festival de Música y Danza at Granada.

In 1956 appeared Don Perlimpin (also seen as Don Perlimpinada), a ballet written in collaboration between Mompou and Xavier Montsalvatge and based on a play by Lorca. Most of the music was by Mompou, but Montsalvatge helped with the orchestration and linking passages and added two numbers of his own.

In 1957, aged 64, Mompou married the pianist Carmen Bravo. She was 30 years his junior. It was the first marriage for both of them and they had no children.

Later years

In 1974 Mompou recorded his piano works for the Spanish label Ensayo. These invaluable recordings have been issued on compact discs by both Ensayo and Brilliant Classics. During his career Mompou received numerous awards, including: Chevalier des arts et lettres (France), Premio Nacional de Música (Spain), Doctor honoris causa, Universitat de Barcelona (1979) and Medalla d’Or de la Generalitat de Catalunya (1980).


Mompou is best known as a miniaturist, writing short, relatively improvisatory music, often described as “delicate” or “intimate”. His principal influences were French impressionism, Erik Satie and Gabriel Fauré, resulting in a style in which musical development is minimized and expression is concentrated into very small forms.

He was fond of ostinato figures, bell imitations (his mother’s family owned the Dencausse bell foundry and his grandfather was a bell maker), and a kind of incantatory, meditative sound, the most complete expression of which can be found in his masterpiece Musica Callada (or the Voice of Silence) based on the mystical poetry of Saint John of the Cross. He was also influenced by the sounds and smells of the maritime quarter of Barcelona, the cry of seagulls, the sound of children playing and popular Catalan culture.

He often dispensed with bar lines and key signatures. His music is rooted in the chord G♭-C-E♭-A♭-D, which he named Barri de platja (the Beach Quarter).

Sobre Mompou y sus Canciones y Danzas

Las Canciones y danzas de Frederic Mompou suponen una de las suites más importantes en la vida del compositor. Compuestas entre años tan distantes como 1921 y 1963, estas obras le acompañaron durante toda la vida, y no tuvo preocupación en acabarlas rápido ni con ninguna presión. Su estilo varía de una otra y no tienen muchas características en común salvo la evidente: todas las obras están divididas en dos secciones, una primera o «canción», normalmente más lenta y cantabile, y una segunda o «danza», con inspiración en el folclore catalán y un espíritu más vivo.

El estilo de Mompou es minimalista, sin muchas voces que recarguen el sonido ni pasajes que requieran excesiva fuerza ni sonidos estridentes del piano. Se basa principalmente en la armonía. Mompou decide en numerosas ocasiones eliminar la separación de compases en sus obras, porque para él la música «no se debe encerrar en compases». Seguramente lo habría hecho en todas las obras si no fuera por la insistencia de su mujer, Carmen Bravo, en que no lo hiciera.

Las Canciones y danzas están inspiradas de forma general en cantos tradicionales catalanes, así como en otras melodías como las cantigas de Alfonso X el Sabio. Las dos originales son la canción y danza 5ª y la 6ª, y esta última es la que goza de más popularidad.

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