An early recording from the fifties, by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then under the baton of Fritz Reiner. I was not expecting much, but it turned out I was quite wrong. The first piece, Goyescas, is an intermezzo. It might be better known as a piano piece, but this is orchestral, what’s going on?

Contrary to my expectation, Goyescas was originally a piano suite, written in 1911. He used some of the melodies in his opera, called the same. Both refer to paintings by the Spanish painter Goya, more specifically six paintings from his early period. The paintings feature so called ‘majos’, lavishly dressed men in love.

In 1916 the opera had its premiere in the Met in New York. While composer Enrique Granados was there, he was invited by president Woodrow Wilson to come play the suite for him at the White House. On the way back to Spain he and his wife (the composer, not the president) died because their ship was torpedoed by a German u-boat.

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