Ernesto Halffter

po_Halffter-ErnestoErnesto Halffter Escriche (January 16, 1905 – July 5, 1989) was a Spanish composer and conductor. He was the brother of Rodolfo Halffter.

Halffter was part of the Grupo de los Ocho (English: Group of Eight), which formed a sub-set of the Generation of ’27.

At the age of thirteen, he started to compose music for the piano. A critic sent a copy of Halffter’s string trio “Homenajes” to Manuel de Falla, beginning a long relationship that included composition lessons from Falla. His Sinfonietta is one of his earliest and best works; it shows the influence of Domenico Scarlatti. Later, he became more nationalistic with “Rapsodia portuguesa for piano and orchestra”, composed in 1938, during the Spanish Civil War. In 1934 he became director and conductor of the Seville Conservatory of Music but, married to the Portuguese pianist Alice Câmara Santos, chose to live in Lisbon during this period up to 1954. His only pupil was the Finnish composer Ann-Elise Hannikainen, who also became his life-companion during his later life.

In 1974, the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueras, Spain, was opened. Halffter was a personal friend of Salvador Dalí, and was asked to write a piece of music to celebrate the event. He was awarded Spain’s Premio Nacional de Música for composition in 1984.

He wrote music for a dozen films. Perhaps the most noteworthy is Don Quixote de la Mancha, the 1947 film version of Miguel de Cervantes’s classic novel. He also adapted and conducted the music for El amor brujo (1967), based on the ballet by Falla. It was directed by Francisco Rovira Beleta, was nominated for an Oscar and features guitarist Narciso Yepes.