Joaquín Turina (1882-1949) was born in Seville, first studied music in Madrid, and later, while in Paris, became a pupil of Vincent d'Indy in composition, and of Moscowski in piano. During the course of his distinguished career he taught in Madrid, was pianist with the Quinteto de Madrid, conducted the Ballet Russe in Spain, wrote numerous works for the theatre and other mediums, was critic for a Spanish music magazine, and became a member of the Spanish Academy of the Arts. His compositions are flavored by the modal scales, harmonic progressions, and turns of phrase characteristic of the music of his native land, while French influences infuse the sonic surface.
His first Violin Sonata, Opus 51 (1929), uses modified versions of traditional classical forms. Thus, movement one is a kind of sonatina, the second movement is arch-like in effect, and the last movement is a rondo, featuring a spirited theme which alternates with contrasting episodes. At the conclusion, the opening theme of the sonata is heard again, giving the piece a cyclical aspect. Cyclicism is more thoroughly developed in his Second Sonata, Opus 82, in which the main idea of the mostly lyrical first movement makes a brief appearance during the scherzo-like second movement, and is present in varied forms in the finale.
El Poema de una Sanluqueña, Opus 28 (1924), is a fantasia consisting of four descriptive pieces, each of which establishes a prevailing mood, followed by development and intensification, or by contrasting material. The piece bears the dedication A las muchachas de Sanlúcar (To the girls of Sanlúcar) and the title of each movement continues within this overall theme. The first movement, Ante el Espejo (In front of the mirror), opens with an andante which is directed Melancolía y tristeza (melancholy and sadness) followed by an allegretto marked Contemplación y optimismo (contemplation and optimism). An exceedingly moving andante follows denoted Himno a la Belleza (hymn to beauty) which appears transformed in later movements. The second movement is titled La Canción del Lunar (Song of the beauty spot) which recalls the custom of including an artificial mole or beauty mark on the face as part of feminine formal attire and, in addition, fulfills the role of musical scherzo. The third movement, Alucinaciones, translates as "hallucinations, fantasies and daydreams", and forms the basis for a slow movement (although transformed towards the end by a wildly agitated thought). The final movement El Rosario en la Iglesia (the praying of the rosary in church) is reminiscent of the deep religious feeling which forms an integral part of the Spanish character. Bell-like introductory chordal figures, resonating almost inaudibly in the church are followed by the first-movement theme, "Hymn to Beauty", here becoming almst a mystical evocation of the love of God. The piece fades away to a quiet ending which leaves the listener inspired and the girl from Sanlúcar at peace and in harmony with God. The two violin sonatas and El Poema de una Sanluqueña are today often overlooked by violinists more easily attracted to the Spanish music of Pablo Sarasate and Manuel de Falla. However, this music offers a serious and contemplative counterbalance to indulgent virtuosity and succeeds in evoking much that is unique to the essence of Spain.
Enrique Granados y Campina (1867-1916), a composition student of the great Spanish composer and historian, Felipe Pedrell, is chiefly remembered today for his piano works, Danzas Españolas and Goyescas, the latter of which became the basis for an opera premiered by the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1916. As a young man Granados toured extensively, and was known as a brilliant pianist, in which capacity he was recorded by Welte on a mechanical piano playing device, the Welte Mignon. Granados, founder of a society of classical concerts and of a school for pianists called the Academia Granados, was killed when a ship on which he was returning from the premier of his opera in New York, was sunk by a German U-boat. Survivors related that Granados, who found himself safely on board one of the numerous lifeboats, leaped to his eventual death by drowning when he saw his wife struggling in the water, in an effort to save her.
Perhaps even more subtilely Spanish than Turina's sonatas, the one-movement Sonata for Violin and Piano by Granados achieves a notable unity through nearly obsessive use of its principal motive. Though there are more active moments, and a secondary theme of sorts, the overall effect of the work is monolithically lyrical, gentle, and perhaps even langorous. It bears a dedication to the great French violinist Jacques Thibaud.