La Vida Breve : Work information

Manuel de Falla (y Matheu) ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra, Fernando Lozano (Conductor)

This work

Work name
La Vida Breve
Work number
1905-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Ivan Pastor
Recording date

Track listing

  • Interlude et danse 7:31 min


In 1905 the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando sponsored a contest for a Spanish opera. Falla entered and won with La Vida breve (A Brief Life) set to a libretto by Carlos Fernandez Shaw. Part of his prize was a public performance of his opera, but no Spanish theatre would take the work, and in frustration he headed for Paris.

Despite the encouragement of Dukas, La Vida breve did not receive its first performance until 1913 when it was given in Nice. Set in the gypsy quarter of Granada it relates the tale of Salud and her lover Paco. When Paco betrays her and marries another, Salud dies, her 'brief life' ending with the flame of her love.

The music is wonderfully evocative of Spain, full of vibrant colour, and includes a number of dances. One of these has become especially popular in an arrangment for violin and piano by Fritz Kreisler.

The Composers

Manuel de Falla (y Matheu)

Spanish composer Manuel de Falla was one of the central figures of 20th century Spanish music.

His music drew on the influence of many artistic movements, including neo-classicism, nationalism and impressionism.

His work, like that of many Spanish artists, was also strongly affected by the events of the civil war that ravaged the country from 1936 until 1939, and which inspired Hemingway’s “Farewell to arms” and “For whom the bell tolls”.

Many Spanish critics mistakenly attacked de Falla’s music as unpatriotic, largely because of the strong influence of the work of French composer Claude Debussy . It is certainly true that much of de Falla’s work relies heavily on the work of several leading French composers, but he was very much a nationalist and his music is unmistakably Spanish in origin.