Museo Manel de Falla in Alta Gracia, Argentina.
Armed with a map I made my way to the Manuel de Falla museum. To be honest I have never heard about Manuel de Falla before and I had no idea what was awaiting me – another new discovery! I was looking forward to it.The big white house situated on a hill was very impressive. It was surrounded by big trees and had the mountains in the background. The wood outside made it look warm and inviting. It was not your typical looking Argentinian house. The style was more European.
Friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere at the Museo Manuel de Falla.
The museum people were very welcoming and they gave me a brochure and a short introduction of what I will see in the museum. The front page said: “This is the house where the spirit of a creator lives” (Esta es la casa donde habita el espiritu de un creador). At the time the words did not mean much to me. Soon that would change.
It turned out that Manuel de Falla was a very talented and famous Spanish composer of classical music in the 20th century. This was the house where he lived prior to his death , where he continued to compose and passed away in 1946.
Transformed back into time.
As I opened the big wooden doors, the soothing sound of classical music filled my ears. I was now in the world of Manuel de Falla -transformed back into time. At first I did not notice it but as I started my tour through the house I could feel his spirit. The words on the brochure echoed in my mind: “This is the house where the spirit of a creator lives“. Yes, some people might laugh but I could feel a strong presence. I did not feel uncomfortable or scared at all. Have you ever experienced something similar?
The first room of the house must have been the living room. The original fireplace can be seen but the rest of room now hosts glass cabinets filled with memorabilia. In the corner, a beautiful piano that he personally used. Beautiful dark wooden doors lead to a patio where De Falla and his sister used to enjoy a cup of tea every afternoon at 5pm.
The life of De falla unfolding in front of me.
The life of De Falla slowly started to unfold in front of me. As a child he studied music with his mother but as he was growing up he wasn´t sure if he wanted to be a musician or a writer. The more and more he got exposed to musical events the more he grew to love the world of composition. It was not until 1905 when his real talent started to show with “La Vida Breve“.
As I started to make my way through the house I could feel his eyes on me. Pictures and sketches of the composer were covering the empty spaces on the walls. Imagine my surprise when I saw a replica of a pencil sketch done by the famous Picasso.The passage was very narrow and I couldn’t take a good photo.
The kitchen had original items on display, donated by family and although small, it looked warm and inviting.
The bathroom made me smile because a sign was posted on the wall not to use the toilet. I giggled because I could just imagine somebody closing the door and using the bathroom.
History of Manuel de Falla.
I was curious to know how he ended up in Argentina. Manuel de Falla studied and worked in Paris, lived in Madrid and eventually settled down in Granada in Spain where he started to work on the famous Atlantida. By the time he moved to Argentina he was not finished with the composition. He first lived in Villa Carlos Paz and then in Villa del Lago but soon he settled for this house in Alta Gracia. He loved the clean air and mountains of this region.
In this house he often entertained friends like Rafael Alberti, Paco Aguilar and Rubinstein.The always brought him good and bad news from the intellectual and social societies in Spain. He was also teaching students from this house.
I still did not have my answer why he exiled from Spain. The reason might be the assassination of his close poet friend Federico García Lorca on August 19, 1936. This affected de Falla deeply.
The museum, filled with personal items like pens, books, photos with friends and music sheets. In fact it was his close friend Rubinstein who had this to say about Manuel de Falla: “He always wore black and looked melancholic. Even his smile was sad. He had penetrating black eyes that were boring into your soul. His music however was in total contrast to the man, de Falla. His compositions were passionate and full of live. Almost betraying the man behind the music.”
The room where he died.
The last room was his bedroom. When I walked into the room I immediately felt the sombre atmosphere. It was impossible not to. The room, untouched, is very interesting. In the corner a bed was standing. Even the multi-coloured blanket could not brighten up the spirit in this room. I moved closer to read the inscription on the bed. “This is the bed where Manuel de Falla passed away on 14 February 1946“.
A small wooden table was standing on the bed. He used this to eat and write on as his health deteriorated. I must have spent a long time in the museum and one of the people working there came up to me to ask me if I need more information. I inquired if Manuel de Falla had children. He told me that he never married and his sister took care of him until his death. Once offered a large pension by the Spanish Government to return to Spain, he refused. His final burial place is in Spain. His face also appeared on Spanish currency for some time.
As I took a last look at the house I thought to myself: “His spirit lives through his music!”
Below, a famous composition “El Amor Brujo”, composed for ballet in 1915. In this video a group of Flamenco dancers are performing to the music.