Catalan composer, writer and scholar Robert Gerhard i Ottenwaelder was born in Valls (Tarragona) on 25 September 1896. His mother was from the Alsace and his father was Swiss-German, giving him an international outlook. He studied piano with Granados and composition first with Albeniz's teacher Felip Pedrell Sabaté and then, by spending several years in Berlin and Vienna, with Arnold Schoenberg.
Besides composing, he worked as a journalist and also organised concerts of new music in Barcelona. He was a member of the Spanish Republican government's Social Music Council, and musical adviser to the Minister of Fine Arts in the Catalan Government, which meant that, due to the outcome of the Spanish Civil War, he had to flee in 1939, first to France and then to England, settling in Cambridge.
He was generally known outside of Spain as Roberto Gerhard. Until Franco's death, Gerhard's music was never played again in Spain, and he never returned, except for holidays. He worked for the BBC, and wrote much music for theatre, and his 1940s compositions were related to aspects of Catalan and Spanish culture.
During the 1950s and 60s his music became increasingly avant-garde.
Robert(o) Gerhard died from a heart condition in Cambridge UK on 6 January 1970, aged seventy-three.
Classical music news - Music, Migration and Mobility - Malcolm Miller previews a new exhibition in London about émigré composers
Echoes of Oblivion by Robert McCarney - Nothing Written in the Stars
CD Spotlight. Often Beautiful - Geoff Pearce listens to Ilya Gringolts. 'Gringolts is an exciting violinist, his technique flawless, his sound sumptuous ...'