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Francisco Alonso

May 9, 1887 - May 18, 1948
born in Granada, Spain, composed during the Modern period
Alonso was one of the most popular zarzuela composers of his day, with works particularly noted for their lively dances and ability to capture the unique flavors of Spain's particular regions. He was also exceptionally prolific, writing almost 150 zarzuelas, as well as instrumental pieces, sainetes (one-act musicals), and songs for revistas (revues). His mother, a pianist, encouraged him to study music, and he began his studies with the Granada Cathedral choirmaster, Antonio Segura, who introduced him to composition. Later, he studied with Celestine Villa. Unfortunately, his formal education ended early. While still in his teens, he was the music director for the Cordova Regiment, and wrote his first hit, the pasodoble dance Polvora sin humo, for them. He also conducted the Granada Philharmonic Society. In 1905, he wrote his zarzuela, La nina de los cantares. He moved to Madrid in 1911, with a view to establishing himself as a composer. Although he produced a steady stream of of works, success seemed elusive in Madrid. It was not until 1916 that he enjoyed true success, with the zarzuela Musica, luz y alegria. Other works passed more or less unnoticed. However, in 1924, he wrote two hits, La linda tapada and La bejarana. In 1925, he saw the first production of the zarzuela, La calesera; six years later, the revista, Las leandras, was produced. These two works eventually became his best-known compositions. The Spanish Civil War disrupted his career, and audiences were no longer as enamored of zarzuelas as before. While he continued to write and was given many state honors, his late works, such as the sainete Rosa la pantalonera (1938) and the 1942 revista Dona Mariqueta de mi corazon, were nowhere near the level of popular success of his pre-war works. Unlike the compositions of many of his fellow zarzuela composers, his works rarely enter the recording studios except in excerpts, though they are still staged in Spain. ~ Anne Feeney, Rovi
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