He received the first violin lessons in his hometown. In 1921 he moved to Barcelona where he studied at the Escola Municipal de Música de Barcelona with Francesc Costa (violin), Lluís Millet (Solfège) and Enric Morera and Jaume Pahissa (composition). Very soon he opted for composition and left the violin study. Once the Spanish Civil War ended, he continued his activity as a critic, publishing in the magazine “Destino”, from where he later became director (1968-1975). In 1936 he began making music reviews in the Barcelona newspaper “El Matí” and later became a music critic for La Vanguardia.
Montsalvatge never identified with the aesthetic criteria of Wagner's music or the German romantic tradition. He began at a young age to opt for an aesthetic closer to French music and worked intensely to find his own way that would give him the freedom to develop as an independent composer. It was not until the 1940s, in the middle of the postwar period, that Xavier Montsalvatge's work acquired consistency. There are two elements that make up the style of his music: Antillean music and French music, both constituent elements of the composer's second stage with such celebrated works as the "Concerto Breve" for piano and orchestra, the "Cuarteto Indiano" or the “Cinco canciones negras". Among the French composers who are most loved by him and most influenced by his work, Maurice Ravel and the Group of Six stand out. Montsalvatge absorbed and transformed this influence until reaching his own style, a process that was accompanied by a certain abstraction of language with the use of polytonality and certain expressive resources related to serialism, thus achieving a very personal and coherent language profile both for its diversity and for its authenticity.
In addition to symphonic music, he also wrote operas, ballets, music for films and for children's works, songs, works for instrumental soloists, and chamber music. Important interpreters such as Alicia de Larrocha, Victoria de los Ángeles, Narciso Yepes or Nicanor Zabaleta internationalized his work.
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Xavier Montsalvatge WebSheet music on Tritó EdicionsSheet music on Peer Music
Cinco canciones negras
, voice and piano
Homenatge a Victòria dels Àngels
, for piano 4 hands
, for cello and piano
, for 2 pianos