Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui


An introductory guide. The title-underlined links will take you directly to our catalogue. Some featured items are linked via a cover to enable you to read more about the items, see track information or listen to excerpts.


Featured CD

Amazon cd jacket Stephen Hough's Spanish album.
Highly recommended - sparkling playing combined with a far from cliched selection. The usual favourite composers are represented : Soler, Granados and Albeniz, as well as Spanish inspired works by Debussy and Godowsky (and others) before concluding with Hough's own composition On Falla.
Perfect listening for this hot Wellington summer.


Amazon book jacket Placido Domingo, Cornelius Schnauber ; translated by Susan H. Ray. (1985).
A tireless ambassador for Spain and music, Placido is one of "the" world's great tenors. His repertoire spans opera and musicals as well as Spanish folksongs and popular music. He is equally at home on the stage or as a recording artist, and is also an accomplished conductor. This book focuses mainly on the more recent years of his life.
Another of the Three Tenors also originates from Spain - Jose Carreras who has written his autobiography - Singing from the soul.

Amazon book jacket Montserrat Caballe : casta diva, by Robert Pullen and Stephen Taylor. (1994).
This biography spans the full lenth of Caballe's life - from war-torn Spain, through years of training to present international status. Her fame spread beyond the operatic world through her partnership with Freddie Mercury on the album Barcelona.

Victoria de Los Angeles, by Peter Roberts. (1982).
Another international Spanish performer.

Joys and sorrows : reflections by Pablo Casals, by Pablo Casals, as told to Albert Kahn. (1970).
This is not an autobiography in any strict sense, but a personal life reflection. His life spanned much change in Spain, and his career as a cellist brought him close to many other Spanish musicians including composer and pianist Granados, and the violinist Sarasate. Many international composers composed and dedicated works to Casals, as diverse as Schoenberg, and Saint-Saens.

Manuel de Falla and the Spanish musical renaissance, by Burnett James.
Mr James sees the composer Manuel de Falla as "the most complete representative of the Spanish mind and spirit in music". While it encomposes de Falla's life, this book is more of an assessment of his works and contribution to Spanish musical heritage.

Ballet Music

Manual de Falla is a name closely associated with Spanish music. He successfully managed to marry sun-drenched celebration with a formal orchestral score.

Amazon book jacket El amor brujo ; El sombrero de tres picos (together with La vida breve, opera), by Manual de Falla.
El amor brujo (Love the magician) concerns a beautiful gypsy girl and her suitor who are haunted by the ghost of her dead lover, and contains the famous "Ritual Fire Dance", which the heroine performs at midnight. The next work (The three-cornered hat) was commissioned by Diaghilev in 1916 for his Ballet Russes. It began life as a pantomime called El corregidor y la molinera (The magistrate the and miller's wife) which Diaghilev liked but asked for some alterations including an expanded orchestra. Both versions have stood the test of time as works of note.

The library has several versions of these ballet suites shelved in Orchestral / Ballet.


Spanish dance is synonymous with flamenco. Flamenco is divided into four elements - singing (cante), dancing (baile), guitar-playing (toque), and spontaneous rhythmic or vocal comments (jaleo).


Amazon book jacket Flamenco : fire and grace, (Narada collection).
"Flamenco emerged as a distinct musical style just two centuries ago, bubbling up from the streets, the bars and the Gypsy ghettoes, speaking of immense tragedy and bitter poverty."

Amazon cd jacket Fire & passion : the new flamenco.


Andalucian suite, no. 1 : four guitar solos from the album "The Andalucian suites", by Juan Martin.
Transcribed into staff notation and guitar tablature (cifra).
This comes with explanatory performance and stylistic notes.

Spanish Music to 1600

As Spain flourished in Medieval and Renaissance periods, this was reflected in a rich musical heritage.

Amazon cd jacket Diaspora sefardi, performed by Hesperion XX1.
"This is music of the Sefardim, the Spanish Jews exiled in 1492. The first disc is a programme of romances... Throughout, the playing is superb, but inevitably the musicians really come into their own on the second CD, a set of instrumentals and improvisations, including the slow-burning rapture of Axerico. .... Quite simply, a great recording." (Amazon)

Amazon cd jacket Cancionero : music for the Spanish court (1470-1520), performed by the Dufay Collective.
This represents a collection of short pieces (songs and instrumental items) that spans the music heard at court entertainment in late 15th century Spain. (drawn from CD booklet).

Amazon cd jacket Motets, by Victoria performed by Victoria Voices and Viols.
"The motets of Tomas Luis de Victoria are justly regarded as masterpieces of the late Renaissance. The music on this album covers pieces written for performance between Christmas and Easter." (Amazon)

The Library has many religious vocal works by this composer who was a key exponent of late Renaissance polyphony. Some more examples:



For further resources please click through to our specialist Classical Guitar webpage.

Amazon cd jacket La Paloma : Spanish and Latin American favourites, Performed by Pepe Romero.

Amazon cd jacket Spanish guitar music, Performed by Celedonio Romero & Celin Romero.
Includes works by Albeniz, Sor and Tarrega.

The library holds a wealth of guitar music at 781.25 (then filed by composer). Check under Albeniz, Rodrigo and Tarrega for starters.

Orchestral (including Concertos):

Amazon dvd jacket Spanish night.
Part of the summer concert series this is a bundle of fun with superb musicians - including the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Placido Domingo. Views of Spain come not only from home-grown composers (Sarasate, Torroba, Serrano and Vives) but also as viewed through other eyes: Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnole, Chabrier's Espana and Johann Strauss II's Spanish March. (after all what is Spanish music?) In the final number, Domingo is unable to resist seizing the microphone and leading the singing.
Run time = 102 minutes.

Amazon dvd jacket Spanish festival. Tour favourite sights of Spain accompanied by the "Spain-inspired" music of Chabrier, Glinka, Massenet and Rimsky-Korsakov.
Run time = 56 minutes.

Joaquin Rodrigo

Some key orchestral Spanish classical works are by Joaquin Rodrigo.

Amazon cd jacket Concierto de Aranjuez ; Concierto serenata (and other works), by Joaquin Rodrigo.
Performed by Narciso Yepes, guitar ; Orquesta Sinfonica de la Radio Television Espanola ; with Odon Alonso, conductor.
The library has many versions of this famous concerto, including ones performed by
Pepe Romero, Julian Bream, Carlos Bonell, and John Williams..


Amazon cd jacket The art of Alicia de Larrocha.
7 CD set including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann works, alongside Soler, Turina, Albeniz, De Falla, and Granados

Some other CDs worth sampling are:

Spanish fireworks, performed also by Alicia de Larrocha at the piano, which contains works by Mateo Albeniz, Isaac Albeniz, Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla, Joaquin Turina, and Federico Mompou.
and Iberia ; Navarra, by Albeniz. Goyescas, by Granados.

Escenas romaticas : Valses poeticos ; Allegro de concierto, all by Granados, performed by Uta Weyand.
This important disc also contains 26 unpublished sonatas for harpsichord which were transcribed for piano by Granados.


Masters of Spanish piano music, edited by Maurice Hinson.
Contains works by Albeniz, Granados, de Falla, Rodrigo, and Soler. Not for the beginning pianist.

For other piano scores check at 781.4 the alphabetically under the composer's surname, e.g. Antonio Soler sontatas would be at 'S'.

Pablo Casals, cellist

Another key instrumentalist.

Pablo Casals Recital.
Contains works by Beethoven, Couperin, Bach, Hayden as well as de Falla.

Singers and vocal works

Amazon cd jacket La verbena de la paloma by Tomas Breton, with Maria Bayo, Placido Domingo, and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid.
A verbena is a popular Madrid festival, with dancing and fair attractions. All are related to a religious festival and this is that of the Paloma, an image of the Virgin of Solitude. In 1872 The Royal Conservatory of Madrid awarded two first prizes for composition - to Breton and Chapi. ..."La verbena is a slice of popular life, a scene of customs with things that can happen to anyone at any time". (drawn from CD booklet)

Amazon cd jacket Preludes & choruses from zarzuelas, performed by the Comunidad de Madrid Orchestra.
Zarzuela stands for Spanish musical comedy. The brightest period of the zarzuela corresponds to the last years of the 19th century.

Amazon cd jacket Very best of Montserrat Caballe Although she won the Liceo gold medal in Barcelona in 1954, it was not until 1965 that she achieved international stardom after replacing Marilyn Horne in Lucrezia Borgia by Donizetti in New York organised by the American Opera Society. This 2 disc set covers a wide range of Caballe's accompliements throughout her long career.

Amazon cd jacket Jose Carreras - pure passion.

Amazon cd jacket Very best of Placido Domingo.

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