Alicia de Larrocha - Spanish Passion
Alicia de Larrocha was a 20th century Spanish classical pianist possessed of extraordinary powers of passion and precision. She is best known for her transparent interpretations of the Spanish composers Isaac Albeniz, Enrique Grenados, Manuel de Falla and Frederico Mompou.
She was equally proficient in her technical and artistic mastery of the most difficult piano concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff and Ravel. Her diminutive size and small hands posed no challenge to her stature as one of the greats: she has been called the female Vladimir Horowitz.
De Larrocha started playing Grieg tunes on the piano at 2. Her supportive mother and aunt - both students of Enrique Grenados - wisely protected her from exposure as a child prodigy. She studied with Frank Marshall - a British disciple of Grenados - and made her concert debut at 11 with the Madrid Symphony Orchestra. Her teacher insisted that she master the classics first before tackling the difficult works of Spanish composers.
The strategy proved fruitful: she became the unrivaled champion of the solo piano literature of her native Spain. In a TIME interview (1967) she said: "There opened before me a new world of poetry and dreams. I had the sensation that this music formed part of myself, and now I would never be able to free myself from its influence."
Her career took off in 1947 - after the Spanish Civil War and World War II - with touring throughout Europe. After she debuted in the US (1955) music critics consistently described her only in superlatives. Concertgoers constantly flocked to her performances.
Her many awards include:
- 3 Grande Prix du Disque (1960, 1974, 1991)
- 3 Edison Awards (1968, 1978, 1989)
- 4 Grammys (1974, 1978, 1988, 1991)
- Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1988)
- Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts (1994)
- UNESCO Prize (1995)
- Paderewski Memorial Medal (London, 1961)
Alicia de Larrocha retired from public performance in 2003 after a 75-year career, and passed away in 2009.