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An exploratory journey into Federico Mompou’s inner world, with special focus in his mystic music.

The composer Federico Mompou lived between 1893 and 1987. He was born in Barcelona, city whose folklore, lively everyday life and tingling neighborhood sounds he always loved. Nevertheless, as many artists of his time, he spent an important part of his life and artistic development in Paris.

The reason I am more attracted by him and his music is that in a time where multiple aesthetic lines were coexisting (Impressionism, Neoclassicism, II Viena school, the influence of Spanish folk music in classical works…) he created a unique and enormously personal style with a deep meaning and philosophical background.

The epicenter of this project is his very special work Música Callada (muted music), named so after a verse by the mystic poet S. John of the Cross and composed following a process of “distillation”. That means, in the composer words, not an active process, but a passive one. Not constructing but receiving. Keeping silence and searching among the multiple stimuli, selecting and   discarding everything but the essential.

From this epicenter, three transversal topic work as threads, sewing the whole program. They are:

The mystic or magic connotation, which includes pieces born around the imagination or the attempt of grasping a transcendental or unknown nature. Sometimes they are quite deep Christian pieces, but other times they only try to describe or evoke some mysterious scene, often recurring to the idea of magic in a more pagan or primitive sense.

Personal influences on Mompou. Attached to this topic we can find pieces composed either by contemporaries of Mompou with whom he had personal contact or who he explicitly admired, or those composers he considered himself heir of, namely the old harpsichord school.

The symbol of the bells. It was nothing else but the management of a bell foundry that first moved Federico’s maternal grandfather from France to Barcelona. As a kid, the composer spent endless afternoons playing around the factory, exploring that huge mysterious world: the high celling, the enormous machines, the sparkling oven in the gloomy atmosphere…and the metallic resonances floating around. The concept of bells, their imitation and the playing with overtones and resonances always remained as a main part of his inner world.

But bells are, moreover, the western symbol of the Church, of the spiritual. They also bring the connotation of the idealize nature, the distance, perhaps the ancestral quality of the metal as a material…

No doubt this project implies a connection between Mompou’s inner world and mine which I find enormously enriching and inspiring. It would indeed mean the biggest success if everyone in the audience is also able to dive in his/her own inner universe through the experience of listening, rediscover it, and connect it with the imagination of such a unique composer.

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