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In his early years, Albéniz was an adventurer who studied in France and Belgium, became a pupil of Liszt in Germany, ran away to Puerto Rico and Cuba, crossed the United States on a concert tour that took him as far as San Francisco, and worked as a bar-room entertainer on the New York waterfront. He earned fortunes and lost them as a pianist, became a successful composer of operettas for the London theater, and finally settled in Paris to live and work as a serious musician. Like many other Spanish composers, he was born in Catalonia, in the northeastern region of the Iberian peninsula. But he soon fell under the spell of the folk and popular music of Andalusia in the south, and his success in adapting its colorful idiom to concert music soon defined it as typically Spanish for the rest of the musical world.
The sound of the guitar is heard everywhere in the work of Albéniz, and these two piano pieces have been transcribed by John Williams. They are works inspired by two beautiful Spanish places, the fertile Mediterranean island of Mallorca and the great city and province named Cordoba, which was an Iberian center of Moslem and Jewish culture.
Notes by John Williams