People We Should Know, #10 – Alicia De Larrocha

     Music is a universal medium that immediately explains the unique colors and emotions of all of humanity in a way no other language could. What separates us in our dialects, grammatical contexts and difficult verb tenses and behaviors, is brought together by the brilliant translators of the language of music. One such legendary translator was the diminutive bundle of piano genius, Alicia De Larrocha, and one of Ramparts’ People We Should Know.
     Alicia De Larrocha was a magnificent interpreter of a wide spectrum of classic music, but what she brought to the world more than anything was a appropriate recognition of the under-appreciated works of composers of Spanish dialect. Prior to artists like Segovia and De Larrocha, the streams and colors of music consciousness that reflected the Latin psyche were interpreted by foreigners with only superficial grasp, such as Rimsky Korsakov’s Capriccio Espanol or Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole. De Larrocha, proud of her Spanish heritage and immersed in the two thousand year latin vein of culture, promoted to appropriate status superb Spanish composers such as Isaac Albeniz, Enrique Granados, and Manuel De La Falla to an appreciative public who recognized the unique rhythms and musical pallet than can be created only by those who are intimate with the cultural identity.
     De Larrocha was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1923, the daughter of pianists, and took to the keyboard instrument with such visible talent that she publicly performed at age six and was a concert pianist by age eleven. Under five feet tall and with tiny hands, typically a physical barrier to performing the great piano works, De Larrocha used her special flexibility and reflexes to conquer the works of titans such as Beethoven and Rachmaninoff to the enraptured satisfaction of audiences worldwide. Once she established her credentials as a leading virtuoso of the keyboard in the twentieth century, she took advantage of the limelight to expose the listening public to the works of Spanish composers and helped create a renaissance in appreciation for Spanish culture at a time when the mighty reach of Spain had crumbled to backwater status in Europe.
     The works of De Falla, Granados, and Albeniz are now an essential impressionistic part of any modern pianist’s recital repertoire. Alicia De Larrocha’s performances are the standard to be compared against with her perfect rhythmic balance of the peculiar off beat dangers of the Spanish dances such as the tango and her understanding of the unique cultural Spanish tensions created by underlying Moorish influences. The size of the musical picture painted by De Larrocha’s tiny hands is a juxtaposition only a savant can create, and tiny De Larrocha easily stood with the giants of her time, Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubenstein, Rudolph Serkin, and Edwin Fischer, and Claudio Arrau.
     Alicia De Larrocha was a eminent ambassador of Spain, promoting the binding nature of music the world over. Her death in 2009 silenced a tiny but powerful force for good and healing in a world that fights every day to understand each other, and her vitality in that calling lives on through her wondrous music.

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One Response to People We Should Know, #10 – Alicia De Larrocha

  1. lisilisin says:

    I’m agree with you. Alicia de Larrocha is one of the people we should know. She was a great MUSICIAN, a great PIANIST and a great PERSON.
    I recomend her official website: (full of information about her).

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