Folk Music in Spanish Piano Music: How Teachers’ Knowledge of Folk Traditions Can Make Teaching More Effective and Enjoyable

By María José Martín.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

All throughout the history of piano repertoire, composers have been inspired by the folk traditions of their home countries (for instance, Chopin’s Polonaises, Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, Bartok’s Mikrokosmos) or other foreign countries they felt attracted to (both Debussy and Ravel were enchanted by the colorful Spanish traditions). As a Spaniard, avid to share the culture and traditions of my country, I would like to focus on the piano music by the composers of the Nationalist period during the transition to the twentieth century in Spain. Felipe Pedrell (1841-1922, distinguished pedagogue and musicologist in the late nineteenth century) was the ‘spiritual father’ of Albéniz, Granados, Falla, and Turina, and encouraged them to create musical works inspired in the rich and varied Spanish tradition. “A work of art,” he used to say, “is engendered by love: love of God, of our country and our fellow men.”
This awareness of the surroundings and the circumstances of an art work are equally important to the music pedagogy techniques and the learning process of this music. In this paper, I would like to discuss three different approaches to the exploration of Spanish piano music. The first looks at the original cultural context of the song/dance on which the piano work is based, the second asks how the context and musical style were changed by, collected and/or used in a new medium, and the third considers how the teacher can restore some of the original context/style through his/her teaching.

Keywords: Spanish Piano Music, Folk Traditions, Pedagogy, Original Cultural Context

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.37-42. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 543.267KB).

Dr. María José Martín

Associate Professor of Music, Arts and Science, Neumann College, Aston, PA, USA

Born in San Sebastian, Spain, María José Martín studied at the Real Conservatorio de Música in Madrid as well as in Salamanca, where she earned ear-training and End-of-Degree Piano awards. She received a degree in English Philology (literature and linguistics) from the Universidad de Salamanca. Martín continued her studies in the United States, completing her Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in piano performance at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. She has performed in both solo and chamber recitals in Spain, Germany, Austria, Thailand, and in the United States. Her interest in Spanish women composers has led her to research and perform the music of such composers as María Luisa Ozaita and Merce Torrents. She has premiered the works of Elena Romero in recitals and national broadcasts in Madrid and has been invited to return next season. Martín performs actively in a piano duo with American pianist Christopher Bradshaw. They recently were invited to perform in Germany and Spain and to participate in the master classes with Joseph Paratore of the Paratore Piano duo team in Salzburg. In 1997 they won the second prize in the international competition Ciudad San Sebastián. Formerly faculty at West Chester University, PA, and at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, María José Martín is currently faculty in the Arts and Science department at Neumann College and at Immaculata University, PA. December, 2002 she was invited to give a piano Master class at the Kasetsart University in Bangkok.

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