A visit to the Museo Manuel De Falla in Alta Gracia

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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.

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Teatime was very important.

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.

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

35 Comments

  1. Nelieta, what a wonderful post! It's almost surreal to stand in a house like this, which is now a museum, and feel the presence of the lives that were lived there…many times have I had that feeling which you describe. I love classical music…this piece by Falla is brimming with passion! I'm sure he was a most interesting person.Thank you for sharing this story and pictures. I almost felt like I was there with you!

    1. Hi Becky, so glad that you understood that feeling. My husband laughed when I told him about it, but for me it was very real. I think he must have been a fascinating person. At times the Spanish was a little difficult to understand and I had to rely more on my other senses. It was a unique and interesting experience! Thank you for the visit and comment

  2. Nelieta…I was definitely not laughing when you mentioned feeling a strong presence. I can relate as I've felt a strong presence more than once when walking into an older house. It isn't unpleasant or uncomfortable, I would agree from my experience, but definitely tangible. I'm not sure about your experience but with mine it felt as if the air got thicker. I don't want to sound too strange! ;)Sounds like a lovely museum to visit though, one full of things too look at and take notice to. A creative soul indeed.

    1. Hi Jessica, I really thought I was imagining things I felt like he was watching me from the moment when I walked through the door. You know when you feel eyes burning in your back and when you turn around there is nothing. That is how I felt. When I walked into the room where he passed away, I felt the presence even stronger. It is hard to explain but like I said I didn´t feel scared or like I wanted to run away! Thank you for sharing and it doesn´t sound strange at all Let me just say about this museum that I don´t want to spend the night…lol!

  3. New unplanned discoveries are the best, nothing like coming upon a hidden gem and being totally pleased. The house certainly has that European feel and look to it, I've seen many houses like that in many countries. It's always eerie to feel a set of eyes peering from an old painting etc…guess I've watched too many movies LOL The house look really interesting and somewhere I'd end up sightseeing for awhile, it's neat to look upon the personal items of a famous person from many years ago. He was obviously a big deal as Spain offered a King's ransom to get him home, nice pics and info. Look forward to more posts. Take care!!

  4. I enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Falla and will listen to his music – now that you have conveyed his spirit through your visit to the museum!I am featuring this post on my 'Tuesday 3 blog selection' post.

    1. Hi Kalpana, I am happy that enjoyed this post about De Falla! His music is really good and I am sure you will like it. Thank you very much for the feature on your blog! What a nice surprise..thank you!

  5. I don't doubt you felt his presence. Can be unnerving at times so you just have to go with it. I've heard the name, but this is the first time for his music. I loved it.

    1. Hi Jim, yes you are right. We visited one very old museum house last year and we were both scared to death. I will tell about this experience in another post. Luckily this one did not have my hair standing up. Glad you liked his music – me too 🙂

  6. I love the look and feel of the house – reminds me of the old houses in Goa – an erstwhile Portuguese colony. I'd love to visit Argentina someday, Nelieta. Any chance of you coming this before that? 🙂

    1. Hi Corinne, I would love to visit your beautiful country some day. We are saving up now for a trip to Russia next year. My mother-in-law turns 80 and we really want to be there. There is still so much I want to see in this world and India is one of those places. Loved this house and all the things it had to offer 🙂 Have a wonderful day Corinne 🙂

    1. Hi Mary, yes they took great pride in this museum! Lately smaller museums impress me much more than the big city ones. LOL…I wish my house would look like that too Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Fascinating information – thank you for sharing. His music is wonderful. Your photos are terrific – I'm able to get a real feel for his home and life through them. I particularly like his bedroom, it looks so peaceful, and his tea service which is lovely.

  8. I love visiting your site and traveling vicariously with you. I am always struck by these types of museums. They are pristine and perfect, but I'd love to have a glimpse into the house during an average day in the life of.. What was really going on? What did it smell like? Was it a noisy household.. As ever your photos give us desktop travelers the best insight into another world..

    1. Hi Brenda, you know I was thinking the same thing as I walked through the house. I can just imagine the afternoon tea on the patio, discussions about the social life in Spain and off course the compositions. Music must have filled the house. What a great atmosphere! I loved this museum even if I did feel eyes on me all the time Glad you enjoyed this trip with me, Brenda and thank you for your visit.

  9. That house does look more European. What a picture of the big white house on the hill, complete with old trees and surrounded by mountains. What a great setting for a story, maybe a mystery… or a romance mystery. Because it does have a aura of secrecy about it. Or maybe it’s just my imagination running away with me…"This is the house where the spirit of a creator lives…" Now we add to the mystique a character, a composer even. A classical composer to be exact. Since you have been transformed and taken back in time, who better to compose this masterpiece dear Nelieta! Did you ever read The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende? Your photography is simply amazing. Like Brenda, I love these vicarious travels.

    1. Hi Debra, I am lost for words. Your beautiful comment has touched me so deeply. You inspire and encourage me to write and explore more. I haven´t read the book but I will see if I can get hold of it. It sounds fascinating.Thank you so much for your comment! I am deeply humbled. Have a great weekend 🙂

  10. Thanks for sharing these images of a site that most of us would never be able to see. De Falla is one of those brilliant composers whose name lacks the "rock star" weight of a Mozart or Beethoven, but was nevertheless an amazing talent whose contribution to the world was precious. The "Love Dance" from El Amor Brujo is gorgeous.

    1. Hi Jeff, thank you very much for your comment. I was so fortunate to have seen this museum and to get a glimpse into the life of this extraordinary man. I totally agree with you. He had an amazing talent but did not get the recognition that he deserved.

Thank you for visiting. Have a fabulous day!

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