Falla – Noches en los Jardines d’España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain)

by Max Derrickson

Manual de Falla     (Born: Cádiz, November 23, 1876; died: Alta Gracia, Argentina, November 14, 1946)

Noches en los Jardines d’España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain)
1. At the Generalife, Parts 1 and 2
2. Distant Dance
3. In the Gardens of the Sierra de Cordoba

Falla began composing Nights as a set of three nocturnes for solo piano in 1911 while he was studying in Paris (1907-1914).  At the outbreak of World War I he then returned to Spain and in 1915 expanded them into their current, unified concerto form or, as Falla referred to them, “evocations in sound.”  Upon the first chords of At the Generalife, one can hear the influence that the Impressionist Parisians Debussy and Ravel had on Falla, but also unmistakable evocations of Spain.
[. . .]

Falla captured this essence of Spanish music by mimicking, but not quoting, folk music popular to Andalucia in southern Spain.  The most specific impression of folk music is a clear reference to the cante hondo in the third movement (Sierra de Cordoba).  This genre of Spanish music was introduced to Spain by gypsies, and is most immediately identified by the gutsy, wailing singing and the rapid guitar work of flamenco dance.
[. . .]

The Gardens

The Arabic tradition of building lavish and refreshing gardens dates back thousands of years and took root inSpainwith the centuries of Arab presence there.  The garden’s place inSpainis celebrated, especially in Falla’s birth place in the south, Andalucia.  Gardens were central to society as places of respite and special gardens were places for festivals and parties.  Falla’s depictions, then, are clearly illustrating more than just gardens, but Spanish life, and he was quick to point out that the piece was not programmatic, simply evocative of nostalgic memories – fancies rather than reality.


The 14th Century Arab Generalife (“garden of the architect”) Palace in Grenada, Andalucia contains one of Europe’s most magnificent gardens,
[. . .}

Distant Dance:

Because no specific garden is named here, Falla appears to be representing
[. . .]

Sierra de Cordoba:

There are several magnificent gardens in the mountain slopes that run through Cordoba (Sierra de Cordoba), but since in his own descriptive notes Falla alludes to a dance of gypsies
[. . .]