Son of the composer Joaquín Nin and the singer Rosa Culmell, and brother of the writer Anaïs Nin. He began his musical studies in Barcelona with the soprano and pianist Conxita Badia. From 1914 to 1923 he lived in New York where he studied piano with Emilia Quintero and in 1924 he moved to Paris to study composition at the Schola Cantorum with Paul Braud. He also expanded studies with Alfred Cortot and Ricard Viñes. From 1930 he received advice from Manuel de Falla and thanks to a letter of recommendation from him, in 1932 he entered the Paris Conservatory to study with Paul Dukas. Starting in 1931, he began a career as a solo pianist playing in Cuba, the United States and Europe, recitals in which he premiered works by himself and by several Spanish composers. As a pianist he performed with important musicians such as Eduard Toldrà or José Iturbi. From 1940 he taught at Williams College in Massachusetts and from 1950 on at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1965 he entered the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. All his life he felt deeply rooted in Catalonia and often spent long stays in Barcelona.
He is the author of an extensive work: "La Celestina", the ballet "El burlador de Sevilla", "Differences on a theme by Gaspar Sanz" for orchestra, the Concerto for piano and orchestra, a suite for cello solo, the Quintet with piano, several works for piano, guitar, songs for voice and piano, and a Te Deum for choir and organ.
Joaquín Nin-Culmell's music shows a great knowledge of the Spanish popular songbook and an interest in spreading its extraordinary wealth through harmonizations or reworkings of highly original material. Nin-Culmell's language often combines the popular element peppered with personal dissonances, with a harmonic refinement, inheritor of Impressionism that he assimilated in his formative stage in Paris.
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Joaquim Nin Culmell Archive in the Biblioteca de CatalunyaJoaquim Nin Culmell Archive in the Universitat de CalifòrniaInterview to Joaquim Nin Culmell
, for piano
Tres poemas de Gil Vicente
, for voice and piano