Catalan composer, music critic and teacher Xavier Montsalvatge was born in Girona on 11 March 1912 and studied violin and composition at the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu in Barcelona. After the Spanish civil war, he worked as a music critic for the newspapers Destino and La Vanguardia, and also returned to the Conservatory to teach, becoming a lecturer in 1970 and professor of composition in 1978.
Montsalvatge was influenced by French music and was a close friend of composer Frederic Mompou (1893-1987).
His compositional style had several phases, beginning with serialism and Wagnerism, both of which dominated the Catalan music scene in the middle of the twentieth century. He next found inspiration in music from the Antilles, and then, after contact with Messiaen and Auric, he adopted a free polyphonic style. His final phase became influenced by the avant-garde.
He produced music in many different forms, including operas, ballets, piano music, chamber music and songs. His five Canciones negras remain popular in song recitals. He was awarded Spain's Premio Nacional de Música for his compositions, in 1990.
Montsalvatge died in Barcelona on 7 May 2002, aged ninety.
CD Spotlight. Astutely Judged - Music for violin and piano by Xavier Montsalvatge, heard by Howard Smith. '... brilliant, clear and individualistic.'
CD Spotlight. Atmosphere and Rhythm - Twentieth century Spanish songs, recommended by Ron Bierman. '... beautifully sung with spirited and intelligent accompaniment.'
CD Spotlight. A Striking Urgency - Schnittke and Ginastera from the Choir of St Ignatius Loyola, reviewed by Howard Smith. 'Not quite what one might expect.'