Benet Casablancas

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Benet Casablancas Domingo (born 2 April 1956 in Sabadell) is a Spanish Catalan composer and musicologist.


Casablancas started to study music in Barcelona´s Conservatory of Music and privately with Josep Soler Sardà and then moved to Vienna, where he attended lessons in the Vienna Academy of Music with Friedrich Cerha and Karl Heinz Füssl. He also graduated in Philosophy in Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona (1982) and has a PhD in musicology by the same university. He has always combined composition with teaching and research. In 2000 he published the book “El humor en la música”[1] and in 2002 he was appointed Academic Director of the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu of Barcelona.

Since the 1990s, Casablancas’ music enjoys an increasing international diffusion. His “New Epigrams” (1997), which have been performed all around the world (USA, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Venezuela, Croatia, Lituania, Japan, etc.), represented Spain at the ISMC World Music Days Vilnius (2008).[2] Also in 2008, the “Seven Scenes of Hamlet” had its UK premiere in a performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra,[3] and in 2009 his work “Alter Klang. Impromptu for Orchestra” was first played in the Netherlands and Belgium by the NJO of the Netherlands, in Sweden by the Malmö Symfoni Orkester[4] and performed again in Belgium by the Orchestre National de Belgique.[5] In the chamber field, the Arditti Quartet gave the premiere of Casablancas' "String Quartet n.3".[6] In December 2009 he was invited to visit Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka), where he gave lectures and master-classes and attended several concerts which included the JP Prémière of his set of "Haiku".[7]

In the last years, several monographic concerts have taken place in Vienna at the Musikverein,[8] Madrid (Auditorio 400 del Museo Reina Sofía, Música dhoy[check spelling], Residencia de Estudiantes, Círculo de Bellas Artes) and Barcelona (L´Auditori). They were followed, in February 2010, by a Composer’s Portrait by Perspectives Ensemble in Miller Theatre of New York, conducted by Angel Gil-Ordoñez, which included the US Premiere of the "Seven Scenes from Hamlet" (with the actor Chuck Cooper in the soloist role) and the World Premiere of the new work, “Four Darks in Red”, after Rothko, commissioned by Miller Theatre[9] with the collaboration of the Foundation for Iberian Music.[10] There has been another premiere planned for 2010, that of his “Chamber Concerto n.1 for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra”, which has been commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philarmonic Orchestra.[11] Also in 2010, his work “New Epigrams” was performed by The London Simfonietta, conducted by Frank Ollu, in Barcelona (“'Festival Nous Sons'09', L'Auditori”)[12] and in Madrid (Saison of CDMC, Auditorio 400 Museo Reina Sofia)[13]

Next commitments include new commissions and performances by Ensemble 88 Maastricht,[14] Deutsches Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Ensemble Nomad Japan, Ensemble Cantus Croatia,[15] Grupo Encuentros de Buenos Aires, The Tokyo Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Oliver Knussen[16] and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.[17] He has been "Visiting Composer" at the "Cairo Contemporary Music Days 2011" and currently he is working in several commissions by Fundación Autor y la Asociación de Orquestas Españolas (AEOS), the pianist Diego Fernández Magdaleno (homage to Jordi Savall),[18] and the Foundation for Iberian Music at The City University New York.[19]

In 2011 Benet Casablancas has signed an exclusive publishing agreement with The Music Sales Group (UME).[20] Previous publishers include Tritó Edicions, EMEC and Boileau.[21]

In 2013 Casablancas was distinguished with the Spanish National Music Prize 2013 (“Premio Nacional de Música 2013”) granted by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. This award is the most prestigious honour of its kind within Spain. The decision of the jury was unanimous regarding the intellectual maturity of Casablancas’s works, the diversity of genres mastered by him and the international impact of his works.[22][23][24][25]

Benet Casablancas has been appointed Composer in Residence of the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons.[26] Currently he works in several commissions: CNDM de Madrid (for the Joven Orquesta Nacional de España (JONDE) and the Festival de Granada),[27] and Ensemble Reconsil in Vienna. Recently he has received the commission of a new opera, "L´enigma di Lea", based on the original idea and libretto by Rafael Argullol, by the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona to be premiered next 2016–2017 Season.[28]


In 1990, the composition of the first piece of the “Epigrams” series was a turning point in his musical language; it evolved from the early influence of the formal techniques of serialism towards wider and more sensual idiom, which shows a renewed harmonical, textural and instrumental thinking. Critics have praised his music for keeping balance between constructional rigour and expressive strength, as well as for its timbrical richness. Casablancas’ output covers a wide range of genres, although recently he has been very prolific in the orchestral field; since 2005, he has written “The Dark Backward of Time” (after “The Tempest” by Shakespeare), “Alter Klang. Impromptu for Orchestra after Klee” and “Darkness visible. Nocturnal for orchestra” (after Milton). Casablancas's inspiration in paintings by artists like Paul Klee, Mark Rothko or Pablo Picasso is also one of his personal aims, in his search of creative feed-back between different artistic fields.[29] At the same time, he attains a new kind of rhythmical freedom and formal fluidity, close to the character of free improvisation, together with a new sense of harmonic brightness, in such pianistic works like the three "Haiku" (2007) or the "Impromptu" (2009), commissioned by the Finnish pianist Kristiina Junttu. The opera "L'enigma di Lea" (text: Rafael Argullol), premiered with great success at the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona) in February 2019, constitutes a broad and successful synthesis of his technical procedures and his aesthetic universe.

Key works[edit]

  • Five Interludes -Quasi variazioni- (1983; string quartet)
  • Seven Scenes from Hamlet (1989; chamber orchestra)
  • Moviment per a trio (1984; violin, cello and piano)
  • String Quartet No.2 (1992; string quartet)
  • Petita Música Nocturna (1992; flute, clarinet, harp, piano, percussion)
  • String Trio (1992; violin, viola, cello)
  • Encore (1992; violin and piano)
  • Introducción, Cadenza y Aria (1993; violin, clarinet, cello and piano)
  • Full d'Àlbum. Variació sobre un tema de F. Schubert (1993; piano)
  • Epigrams (1994; sextet)
  • In modo di passacaglia (1992–1996; flute, clarinet, harp, piano, double bass)
  • Two Pieces for clarinet and piano (1993/1997; clarinet and piano)
  • Díptico for guitar solo (1996, 2004)
  • Tríptico for cello solo (1996)
  • New Epigrams (1997; chamber orchestra)
  • Scherzo (2000; piano)
  • Three Epigrams (2000; orchestra)
  • Celebració (2001; chamber orchestra)
  • Three Bagatelles for piano (2001–2003; piano)
  • Melancolías y desabrimientos for double bass and piano (2005)
  • The Dark Backward of Time (2005; orchestra)
  • Tre Divertimenti (2006; piano duet)
  • Intrada sobre el nom de Dalí: Variacions sobre tres notes (2006; orchestra)
  • Alter Klang (2006; orchestra)
  • Three Haiku (2008; piano)
  • Jo tem la nit... (2008; choir mixed and piano)
  • String Quartet No.3 (2009; string quartet)
  • Darkness Visible (2009; orchestra)
  • Four Darks in Red, after Rothko (2009; chamber orchestra)
  • Impromptu (2009; piano)
  • Dove of Peace: Homage to Picasso (Chamber Concert No.1 for clarinet and ensemble) (2010; chamber orchestra)
  • Six Glosses on texts by Cees Nooteboom (2010; fl, cl, perc, pno, vl, vc)
  • …der graue Wald sich unter ihm schüttelte (Chamber Concert No.2 for horn and ensemble) (2011; orquesta de cámara)
  • Jubilus (2011; piano)
  • Tres Interludios (2011; orchestra)
  • "Sí, a Montsalvatge!" (2012; piano)
  • "Pastoral. Concertino for Alto Saxophon and ensemble" (2012; chamber ensemble)
  • "Dance, Song and Celebration" (2012; chamber orchestra)
  • "Shade and Darkness" (2014; string orchestra)
  • "Seven Haikus" (2013; sextet)
  • "Sogni ed Epifanie" (2014; orchestra)
  • "L'enigma di Lea" (2018; opera)

Selected recordings[edit]

  • Epigrams, String Trio, Introduction, Cadenza and Aria, String Quartet nr. 2, New Epigrams, Album Leaf, Two Notations, Aphorism, Three Epigrams

Various performers (London Sinfonietta, Arditti Quartet, Barcelona SO, BCN 216, etc.) EMEC/Fundació Música Contemporània E-068 (2005)[30]

  • Five Interludes for String Quartet, Two Piano Pieces, Three Piano Pieces, Scherzo, Mouvement for Trio, Little Night music, Two Songs, Celebration

Various performers. Columna Música 1CM0112 (2004)[31]

  • Piano Music (Three Bagatelles, Tombeau, Three Divertimenti for piano duet, Album Leaf, etc.)

Jordi Masó, Miquel Villalba. Naxos 8.570757 (2008)

  • The Dark Backward of Time, Love Poem, Intrada on the name of Dalí, Epigrams, Postlude

Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Ofèlia Sala, cond: S. Mas. Naxos 8.579002 (2010)[32][33]

  • Seven Scenes from Hamlet and other chamber works

Ensemble Barcelona 216, cond: M. Valdivieso. Naxos 8.579004 (2010)[34]

  • Seven Scenes from Hamlet, Alter Klang and other orchestral and vocal works

Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid, Will Keen, actor, cond: J. R. Encinar. Stradivarius STR 33828 (2010)[35][36]

  • Complete Strings Quartets and Trio

Arditti Quartet. Tritó TD 0077 (2010)[37]

  • Orchestral Works

Orquesta Nacional de España, cond: Josep Pons. Anemos C33010 (2010)[38]

Honours and awards[edit]

  • I & III Tribunas Fundación Juan March of Madrid (1982, 1984)
  • Ferrán Sors (1984)
  • II Musician's Accord New York (1986)
  • XVI Premio Internacional Óscar Esplá (1988)
  • Spanish National Recording Prize, awarded by Ministerio de Cultura (1988)
  • Ciutat de Barcelona (1992)
  • Composer's Arena (Foundation Gaudeamus Amsterdam, 1996)
  • National Prize of Music (Generalitat de Catalunya, 2007)
  • Finalist of the Prix de Composition Musicale, given by the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco, with the work “The Dark Backward of Time”[39]

Further reading[edit]

  • Pérez Senz, J. "Arquitecturas de la emoción. La música de Benet Casablancas". Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, 2017. ISBN 978-84-17088-73-6.
  • Casablancas Domingo, B. “El humor en la música. Broma, parodia e ironía”. Kassel: Edition Reichenberger (DeMusica 3), 2000. ISBN 978-3-931887-86-5.
  • Charles, Agustín. "Casablancas (Domingo), Benet", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition (Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell, eds.). London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001, vol. 5, pp. 221–222.


  1. ^ See Amadeu Viana's review at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2009-12-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2009-12-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ See Archived 2008-12-12 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ See "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2009-12-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2009-12-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Crítica – Arditti y Casablancas, camino de perfección". El País. 3 August 2009.
  7. ^ "Concierto ::El Humor en la Música: Concierto del Trío Kandinsky y conferencia Benet Casablancas ::Instituto Cervantes de Tokio".
  8. ^ See[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ See further details at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-07-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ See the program notes by Paul Griffiths at
  11. ^ You can watch and listen to this work at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2010-08-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) and "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-28. Retrieved 2010-08-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Tot – L'Auditori". Retrieved 2019-05-26.
  13. ^ See Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Ensemble88". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
  15. ^ See
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2012-09-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original on September 8, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  18. ^ "Concert ::Hommage à Jordi Savall ::Instituto Cervantes de Paris".
  19. ^ Ver
  20. ^ See "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2012-05-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "News – New Composer Signings Spring 2012 – Music Sales Classical".
  22. ^ "Benet Casablancas y el Trío Arbós, premio Nacional de Música". El País. 19 November 2013.
  23. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Classical Music News: Benet Casablancas and Trío Arbós win Spanish National Music Awards".
  25. ^ "News – Casablancas receives Spanish National Music Prize – Music Sales Classical".
  26. ^ "Noticias, Música Contemporánea, Compositores actuales y compositores contemporáneos".
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2013-12-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "#Noticias – Hágase la Música".
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-02-24. Retrieved 2010-03-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2009-12-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Petit Musica Nocturna". Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  32. ^ "CASABLANCAS, B.: Dark Backward of Time (The) / 3 Epigrams / Postlude / Love Poem (Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra, Mas-Conde) – 8.579002".
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2010-11-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ "CASABLANCAS, B.: 7 Scenes from Hamlet / New Epigrams / In modo di Passacaglia (Jutsum, Barcelona 216, Valdivieso) – 8.579004".
  35. ^ "Stradivarius – The leading italian classical music label".
  36. ^ "CD".
  37. ^ "Details". Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  38. ^ "Details". Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-19. Retrieved 2009-12-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]