Catalan music


Liceu is the most important opera house in Catalonia. It was established mainly as a pride of the affluent Barcelona elite - the first opera was staged in here in April 1847. The building of the theater burned down twice (1861, 1994), and once was a victim of a brutal terrorist attack (1893). The current stage was reopened in 1999. The auditorium has a capacity for 2,292 spectators, making Liceu one of the largest opera houses worldwide. The most popular operas of the local audience historically were Verdi’s and Wagner’s. Several Czech operas premiered here as far as the Iberian Peninsula is concerned (such as Rusalka and The Bartered Bride in 1924, Katya Kabanova in 1973 or The Makropulos Affair in 1999).

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The Palace of Catalan Music (1908) in Barcelona is one of the most important works of the architectural style of modernism. Designed by the Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner (1850-1923), the building has been listed as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site since 1997. The palace is considered one of the greatest concert halls in Europe. The richly decorated and bright hall with a capacity of over 2,000 seats is especially breathtaking.

Orfeó Català (1891) is the most prestigious Catalan music choir. The originally men’s and later mixed ensemble was formed during the Catalan National Revival. Though focusing mainly on the traditional Catalan music, it has an extensive repertoire. The Palace of Catalan Music was built primarily as a dignified seat of this choir.


Catalan female opera singers: Josefina Huguet (1871-1950), Concepció Badia (1897-1975), Victòria dels Àngels (1923-2005), Montserrat Caballé (1933-2018).

Catalan male opera singers: Hipòlit Lázaro (1887-1974), Jaume Aragall (1939), Josep Carreras (1946).

Catalan music composers: Isaac Albéniz(1860-1909), Enric Morera (1865-1942), Enric Granados(1867-1916).

Pau Casals (1876-1973): Famous cellist, music conductor and humanist. His memorable moments include the staging of the traditional Catalan folk song El cant dels ocells and his memorable performance at the UN headquarters (1971).

Jordi Savall (1941) and Montserrat Figueras (1942-2011): Jordi Savall is a Catalan musicologist concentrated on ancient music, one of the world’s best viola da gamba stringed instrument. His wife, Montserrat Figueras, was his closest professional partner, an excellent soprano specialized in early music herself. LA NOVA CANÇÓ

This Catalan music movement (1960s and 1970s) sought to promote Catalan music in the Francoist Catalonia and other Catalan-speaking regions. In addition to the language, the songs were strongly pro-democratic and substantially influenced by folk music. Lots of protest songs emerged from the movement. This group of artists is also referred to as Els Setze Jutges. Probably the most important song of its heyday was the protest song L'estaca (1968, Lluís Llach).

The greatest representatives of the movement: Miquel Porter, Josep Maria Espinàs, Guillermina Motta, Joan Manuel Serrat, Maria del Mar Bonet, Rafael Subirachs, Lluís Llach, Raimon, Ovidi Montllor, Jaume Sisa. PHOTO FROM LEFT: LLUÍS LLACH, OVIDI MONTLLOR A JOAN MANUEL SERRAT


This designation encompasses the Catalan rock and pop music of the 1980s and 1990s. Basically, it is a sequence of music bands formed during the 1970s with the aim of playing in Catalan (related to the downfall of Francoism). During the 1980s and early 1990s, it also was a significant Catalan cultural phenomenon. An important element of some bands’ song lyrics within this artistic direction was the idea of Catalonia independence. The most famous artists: Companyia Elèctrica Dharma, Sopa de Cabra, Els Pets, Lax'n'Busto, Obrint Pas, La Gossa Sorda, Gossos, Sau.


The contemporary Catalan music features genre diversity and penetration of Catalan outside the pop and rock style (e.g. into hip hop). The most popular Catalan bands often perform the genres such as pop-folk, ska, pop, reggae. A solid tradition of music festivals (Sónar, Primavera Sound) has developed. Particularly in Barcelona there are a number of music and disco clubs of the best European standard (Pacha, Razzmatazz, Jamboree, Sutton, Heliogàbal). As far as Catalan linguistics are concerned, there are plenty of world-class clubs (Amnesia, Pacha, Privilege) on the island of Eivissa, concentrating mainly on electronic music. Over the recent few years, Catalan rap (court cases versus freedom of speech; Valtònyc case) has come into spotlight.

The best-known artists: Els Amics de les Arts, Els Catarres, Estopa, Cesk Freixas, La Pegatina, Manel, Maria Coma, Mazoni, Mishima, Obeses, Pau Vallvé, Roger Mas, Sak Noel, Sanjosex, Silvia Pérez Cruz, Txarango.

Rumba Catalana: This musical style originating from the Barcelona gypsy community has been developing since the 1950s and 1960s, when the Latin American rhythms invaded Catalonia, although the exact year of its origin is unclear. the most popular musicians performing Catalan rumba: El Pescaílla, Peret, Gato Pérez, Los Manolos, Sabor de Gràcia, Gipsy Kings.

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