Manuel de Falla's popular El Sombrero de tres picos (The Three-Cornered Hat) started life as a. 1917 pantomime in 2 scenes, El corregidor y la molinera (The Corregidor and the Miller's Wife). Based on a novel by Alarcon, it tells the humorous story of a magistrate who falls for the Miller's wife, and is made to look a fool in front of the whole village when she spurns his advances.
The impressario Serge Diaghilev, thinking the plot suitable for dancing, asked Manuel de Falla to revise the work for his company, the ballet russes. The resulting ballet had its first performance, under the title El Sombrero de tres picos (after the shape of the magistrate's hat) in London on 22 July 1919 with scenary by Picasso.
A work full of Spanish character, with the traditional jota, farruca, and zarzuela dances, El Sombrero is a wonderfully vibrant ballet. Two orchestral suites were later created by de Falla to ensure the work had a lasting position in the repertoires of the world's orchestras.
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.