Gerhard, Roberto

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Gerhard, Roberto

Gerhard, Roberto, eminent Catalonian-born English composer and teacher of Swiss-German and Alsatian descent; b. Vails, Sept. 25, 1896; d. Cambridge, Jan. 5, 1970. After training in piano with Granados (1915–16) and in composition with Pedrell (1916–20) in Barcelona, he pursued advanced studies in composition with Schoenberg in Vienna (1922–25) and Berlin (1925–28). Returning to Barcelona, he was made a prof. of music at the Ecola Normal de la Generalitat in 1931 and head of the music dept. of the Catalan Library in 1932, positions he held until the defeat of the Republic in the Spanish Civil War in 1939. He settled in Cambridge, where he held a research scholarship at King’s Coll. In 1956 he taught at the Dartington Summer School of Music. In 1960 he was a visiting prof. of composition at the Univ. of Mich, in Ann Arbor. He taught at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in the summer of 1961. In 1960 he became a naturalized British subject. Gerhard was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1967 and was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree by the Univ. of Cambridge in 1968. In his early works, Gerhard followed traditional Spanish melodic and rhythmic patterns. The influence of Schoenberg is felt in his serial usage in the Wind Quintet (1928), but it was not until he settled in England that he began to reassess Schoenberg’s 12-tone method with a detailed study of Hauer’s and A. Haba’s serial procedures. In 1952 he turned to the athematic procedures of Haba, which led to his composition of scores of great originality and merit. Among his finest works were the opera The Duenna, the ballet Don Quixote, and the 1st Sym.


DRAMATIC Opera : The Duenna (1945–47; BBC, 1947; rev. 1950; concert perf., Wiesbaden, June 27, 1951; stage perf., Madrid, Jan. 21, 1992; also Interlude and Arias fromThe Duenna for Mezzo-soprano and Orch., London, Sept. 18, 1961). B a l l e t : Ariel (1934; concert perf., Barcelona, May 18, 1936); Soirees de Barcelone (1936–38; unfinished; orch. suite, 1936–38; also for Piano, c. 1958; London, Jan. 12, 1985); Don Quixote (1940–41; 1947–49; London, Feb. 20, 1950; also Dances from Don Quixote for Piano, BBC, London, Nov. 26, 1947, and for Orch., 1958); Alegrias (1942; Birmingham, July 16, 1943; orch. suite, BBC, April 4, 1944); Pandora (1943–44; Cambridge, Jan. 26, 1944; orchestrated 1945; orch. suite, BBC, London, Feb. 1950). ORCH.: Albada, Interludi i Danza (1936; London, June 24, 1938); Pedrelliana (1941; final movement of subsequent work); 1 unnumbered sym.: Homenage a Pedrell (1941; BBC, London, 1954); 5 numbered syms.: No. 1 (1952–53; Baden-Baden, June 21, 1955), No. 2 (1957–59; London, Oct. 28, 1959; rev. 1967–68 as Metamorphoses), No. 3, Collages (I960- London, Feb. 8, 1961), No. 4, New York (N.Y., Dec. 14, 1967), and No. 5 (1969; unfinished); Violin Concerto (1942–43; rev. 1945, 1949; Florence, June 16, 1950); Cadiz, fantasia on a zarzuela by Chueca and Valverde (1943); Gigantes y Cabezudos (Giants and Dwarfs), fantasia on a zarzuela by Fernandez Caballero (c. 1943); La Viejecita, fantasia on a zarzuela by Fernandez Caballero (c. 1943); Concerto for Piano and Strings (1950); Concerto for Harpsichord, Strings, and Percussion (1955–56); Lamparilla Overture, after a zarzuela by Barbieri (1956); Concerto for Orchestra (Boston, April 25, 1965); Epithalamion (Valdagno, Sept. 17, 1966). CHAMBER: Piano Trio (1918); 2 Sardanas for 11 Instruments (1928); Wind Quintet (1928); Capriccio for Flute (1949); 2 string quartets: No. 1 (1950–55; Dartington, Aug. 18, 1955) and No. 2 (1960–62); Cello Sonata (1956); Nonet for Wind Quintet, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba, and Accordion (1956–57; BBC, London, Sept. 4, 1957); Fantasia for Guitar (1957); Chaconne for Violin (1959); Concert for 8 for Flute, Clarinet, Mandolin, Guitar, Accordion, Percussion, Piano, and Double Bass (London, May 17, 1962); Hymnody for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba, 2 Percussion, and 2 Pianos (London, May 23, 1963); Gemini for Violin and Piano (1966); Libra for Flute, Clarinet, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, and Violin (1968); Leo for Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, 2 Percussion, Piano, Violin, and Cello (Hanover, N.H., Aug. 23, 1969). Piano : Dos apunts (2 sketches; 1921–22); 3 Impromptus (1950). VOCAL: L’Infantament Meravellos de Shahrazada, song cycle for Soprano or Tenor and Piano (1917); 7 Haiku for Soprano or Tenor, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Piano (1922; rev. 1958); 14 Cannons Populars Catalanes for Soprano or Tenor and Piano (1928; 6 orchestrated 1931; Vienna, June 16, 1932); L’Alta Naixenga del Rei en Jaume, cantata for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1932; 1st complete perf., Barcelona, Nov. 17, 1984); Cannons y Arietes for Voice and Piano (1936); Cancionero de Pedrell for Soprano or Tenor and Piano (1941; also for Soprano or Tenor and 13 Instruments, 1941); For do Pasare la Sierra for Soprano or Tenor and Piano (1942); 7 Canciones de Vihuela for High Voice and Piano (1942); 6 Tonadillas for Soprano or Tenor and Piano (1942); Sevillanas for Soprano or Tenor and Piano (1943); 3 Toreras for Medium Voice and Orch. (c. 1943; also for Voice and Piano); Engheno Novo for Voice and Orch. (c. 1943); The Akond of Swat for Mezzo-soprano or Baritone and 2 Percussion (1954; London, Feb. 7, 1956); 6 French Folksongs for High Voice and Piano (1956); Cantares for Soprano or Tenor and Guitar (1956); The Plague for Speaker, Chorus, and Orch. (1963–64; London, April 1, 1964). T a p e : Audiomobiles I-IV (1958–59); Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter for Speaker and Tape (1959); 10 pieces(c. 1961); Sculptures I-V (1963). OTHER: Incidental music to plays, and film, radio, and television scores.


K. Potter, The Life and Works of R. G. (diss., Univ. of Birmingham, 1972); R. Paine, Hispanic Traditions in Twentieth-Century Catalan Music with Particular Reference to G., Mompou, and Montsalvatge (N.Y. and London, 1989); J. Horns, R. G. i la seva obra (Barcelona, 1991).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire