Nights in the Gardens of Spain

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Nights in the Gardens of Spain (Spanish: Noches en los jardines de España), G. 49, is a piece of music by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Falla was Andalusian and the work refers to the Hispano-Arabic past of this region (Al-Andalus).

Falla began this work as a set of nocturnes for solo piano in 1909, but on the suggestion of the pianist Ricardo Viñes he turned the nocturnes into a piece for piano and orchestra. Falla completed it in 1915 and dedicated it to Viñes. However the pianist at the first performance was neither Viñes nor Falla (who was a skilled pianist), but José Cubiles. The first performance was given on April 9, 1916, at Madrid's Teatro Real, with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid conducted by Enrique Fernández Arbós.

Viñes first played the work in its San Sebastián premiere, shortly after the world premiere, with the same orchestra. Arthur Rubinstein was in the audience that night, and he introduced the work to Buenos Aires. The Paris premiere took place in January 1920, with the pianist Joaquín Nin playing under Fernández Arbós. The composer himself was the soloist at the London premiere in 1921, at a Queen's Hall concert under the baton of Edward Clark.[1]

The work depicts three gardens:

  • En el Generalife (In the Generalife): The first gardens are in the Generalife, the jasmine-scented gardens surrounding the Alhambra.
  • Danza lejana (A Distant Dance): The second garden is an unidentified distant one in which there is an exotic dance.
  • En los jardines de la Sierra de Córdoba (In the Gardens of the Sierra de Córdoba): The third set of gardens are in the Sierra de Córdoba. The best-known inhabitant of the gardens of the Sierra de Córdoba was the Sufi philosopher Ibn Masarra, and the dances depicted here are presumably Sufi dances.[2][3][4]

Falla referred to Nights in the Gardens of Spain as "symphonic impressions." The piano part is elaborate, brilliant, and eloquent but rarely dominant. The orchestral writing is lush. It is Falla’s most "impressionistic" score. The Spanish composer Joaquín Turina called it "the most tragic and sorrowful of his works," in which is expressed "an intimate and passionate drama."[5]

The score calls for piano, three flutes and piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, cymbals, triangle, celesta, harp, and strings. Performance time usually runs in the range of 22 to 26 minutes.


  1. ^ Ivory Classics
  2. ^ (in Spanish) "Noches en los jardines de España,"*/
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ibn Masarra y su escuela. Orígenes de la filosofía hispano-musulmana by Miguel Asín-Palacios, Madrid, 1914, included with revisions in Volume 1 of his Obras escogidas (Madrid, CSIC, Instituto Miguel Asín, 1946–48). The English translation has an onomastic index: The Mystical Philosophy of Ibn Masarra and His Followers (Leiden, Brill, 1978). For current criticisms of Asín's work, see Claude Addas, "Andalus Mysticism and the Rise of Ibn `Arabi," in The Legacy of Muslim Spain, ed. Salma Khadra Jayyusi (Leiden: Brill, 1992), pp. 909–33.
  5. ^

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