A Don Quixote of our time died.

Photo: buscabiografias.com

…this was the title of the report on the death of the Spanish composer Cristobal Halffter in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Halffter was one of the most important Spanish composers of the present day, who – although his curriculum vitae was that of a cosmopolitan – was committed to his Spanish homeland in his work and activities.

Halffter, who also had German ancestors, was born in Madrid in 1930. His grandfather Ernesto Halffter Hein (born Ernst Albert Halffter) was a jeweller and came from Königsberg. His uncles Ernesto and Rodolfo Halffter were also respected composers. He spent part of his childhood in Germany; from 1936 to 1939 he lived in Velbert, where his father was a factory director. From 1939 to 1951, Halffter studied piano, music theory, harmony and composition in Madrid, among other things as a private student of Conrado del Campo.

Halffter’s first composition in twelve-tone technique, Five Microforms for Orchestra, caused a scandal in Madrid in 1960. Nevertheless, he was appointed teacher of composition and formal theory at the Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid in 1961. He was director of this institute from 1964 to 1966. As he did not agree with the antiquated methods of music pedagogy at this institute, he took a leave of absence from his teaching activities. This decision was also motivated by his turn to creative work in conducting and composing. He received scholarships from the Ford Foundation for America and from the DAAD for Berlin.

Cristóbal Halffter died in Ponferrada on 23 May. He was 91 years old.  Here is a list of his works.

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