Juan Manén

Manén seen by Ramon Casas (MNAC).
Birth 14 March 1883 Barcelona
Death 26 June 1971 (88 years old) Barcelona
Profession Violinist and Composer
Artistic Genres operas, symphonic works, concerts, ballets, chamber music, sardanas, songs.
Principal instrument Violin

Juan Manén (or Catalan: Joan Manén, 14 March 1883 – 26 June 1971) was a Spanish violinist and composer, born in Barcelona.

His progress in music was so rapid that his father exhibited him as a piano prodigy. Having studied the violin under Clemente Ibarguren, he suddenly appeared as a violinist, and met with such success that in Germany he was compared to his famous countryman Sarasate. Likewise he attracted much attention as a composer, not only in Spain, but perhaps to even a greater degree in Germany, where he resided at different times for protracted periods. His works comprise: the operas Giovanni di Napoli (1903), Der Fackeltanz (1909) and Neró i Acté (1928) with his own libretto;[1] the symphonic poem Nova Catalonia; at least three violin concertos;[2] "Fantasia - Sonata" for guitar; a suite for violin and piano; a piano quartet,[3] a string quartet,[4] and a number of exquisite miniatures for violin and orchestra. He also made a completion-cum-arrangement of Beethoven's Violin Concerto in C, which otherwise only survives in its first 259 measures."


Joan Manén was born in Barcelona, Catalonia. Precociously gifted, he learnt solfège and piano with his father from the age of three, and at seven played Chopin concertos in public. Meanwhile, at five, he had begun to study the violin with Vicente Negrevernis.[5] The study of the piano and the violin is kept alike and with little time he develops an unusual facility for sight-reading all kinds of scores. In 1890 his father succeeded in convincing Clemente Ibarguren -formed in Paris- to give violin lessons to his son.[6] They set two classes per week, and he rapidly attained astonishing technical mastery and at the age of nine made his début in Latin America.[5] In the summer of 1892 Juanito's first public presentation takes place at the Nuevo Casino in Castellón, where he is a pianist and violinist in five successful concerts. The programs appear in the pieces "Adiós a la Alhambra" de Jesus de Monasterio, "Air varié" by Charles de Beriot, and "Balade et Polonaise" by Henry Vieuxtemps among others.

A press excerpt shows his success: "Indeed, it does not cease to be surprising in its own years, to see the ease and the ingenuity with which he manages the bow, the tuning and clarity of the sound and the perfection of his articulation, conditions are well directed, over time they will make the artist-child, what the French call a virtuoso " (Mercantil 7-VII-1892, Teatro Pizarro).[6] He made his European début as a violinist in 1898, when he was hailed as a virtuoso of the first rank; he later made five world tours.[5]

Almost entirely self-taught as a composer, Manén had begun to write at 13, and in 1900 he conducted a concert of his own works in Barcelona.[5] It was in 1894 when his father, Joan Manén Abellan, believed that it was not enough that his son triumphed as a virtuoso of the violin and decided to start it in composition. As Joan Manén himself explains in the first volume of "My experiences", his father gave him a blank paper, hoping that he, without knowledge of harmony, would begin to compose some work. The first intents were an absolute failure, but after a while and in an intuitive way, he began to be aware of his talent as a composer. Manén was an involuntary self-taught person because throughout his childhood and adolescence his father, an entertainer, did not allow him to study composition at any conservatory. Looking at the history of music, it is difficult to find in the world of composition such an extraordinary case of self-learning. It must be remembered that his father, the only teacher of his son, was an amateur musician with few musical studies that only played the piano very discreetly. Several teachers offered to give classes of harmony and composition but the father used to say: "He will only learn it from the much music he reads. The instinct when possessed is the best teacher. " The ability to read in sight of the little Joan was extraordinary. He himself tells us that his father gave him many symphonic works and operas so he read them in the piano. In spite of the difficulty they were having, the child came out pretty shamelessly.[7]

His first opera, Juana de Nápoles (produced when he was 19), was well received at the Gran Teatre del Liceu from Barcelona, and he immediately followed this with Acté, for which (as for all his later operas) he wrote his own libretto. He then spent time in Germany, where he acquired an admiration for Wagner and Richard Strauss, which can be observed in his orchestral writing. Strauss's influence on his harmony can also be particularly heard in his songs. He composed prolifically in many genres, but later destroyed, disowned or radically revised everything he had composed before 1907. This led him, for example, almost completely to rewrite Acté - increasing the complexity of the texture - as Neró i Acté. [5]

Manén made numerous arrangements, both instrumental and vocal, of Spanish and Catalan folk melodies, and traditional dance styles (e.g. the Sardana) appear in his works. His music is tonal in idiom and predominantly lyrical, and there are often thematic connections between movements. His writings include many articles in Spanish and French periodicals and a treatise on the violin. In 1927 he became a member of the Spanish Academy of Arts; among many other awards and honours, there has been a plan to name a new concert hall in Barcelona after him.[5]

In 1930 he founded and presided over the Barcelona Philharmonic Society (Societat Filarmònica de Barcelona), an influential entity in the Barcelona musical atmosphere that programmed several concerts. His strong and demanding character and his indolent attitude towards the Franco regime made him, at the same time, loved and hated by the society of the moment; The impositions of the dictatorship prompted him to replace Catalan for a lifetime by the Spanish and to timidly approach the Franco regime in order to maintain his artistic activity throughout the country.

He died in 1971 and was buried in the Cementiri de Montjuïc in Barcelona.

The composerEdit

First worksEdit

Joan Manén's first works were very simple pieces for violin and piano, a lounge music written to be performed at the concerts he himself performed. In this way, the child prodigy could show off in front of the audience also on the side of composer. One of the works that was most successful among the public was a virtuous transcription made by Manén himself, a Vals-Jota on the famous zarzuela "El Duo de la Africana" by Manuel Fernández Caballero. Among other works he wrote a small piece titled "Romancita", probably his first work and one of the first to be published. Little by little the works were increasing in complexity as in the case of the four Catalan Caprices and the "Concierto Español" for violin and orchestra Op. A-7. According to Manén himself, self-learning was constant and every day he realized he had made mistakes. It is for this reason, as we will see later, that the re-elaboration of his works was a constant tonic throughout the first two decades of the 20th century. [8]


As for the style and influences of the first works, we can see that in many cases he took Spanish and Catalan popular themes that were reelaborated through a more central European language than Spanish. His fascination with Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner and later Richard Strauss made him take pleasure in the great forms and from the beginning of the twentieth century he began to tackle works with a Germanic language of poematic and descriptive style very close to what parallel Richard Strauss was cultivating. It is precisely in a concert realized in Cologne on January 4, 1900 that Strauss himself accompanied him to the piano in several of his works.

As Manén was gaining a greater command of orchestration his music was able to achieve more expressive depth and in operas such as Acté, premiered in 1903 at the Liceu in Barcelona, achieved through a powerful orchestral technique to condense and develop The drama is very effective and poignant. But to get to write an opera of the size of Acté he had to confront the composition of several zarzuelas such as "The Tantalus Infatuation", or "Elixir de amor" works composed during adolescence in difficult times of his career as a violinist. Thanks to the compositional experience of these works as well as the opera "Giovanna di Napoli", premiered at the Liceu in January 1903, he could face what would possibly be his key piece "Acté". [9]


The opera "Acté", inherited from a traditionally Germanic tradition, was premiered at the Liceu in December 1903 and was understood by a Barcelona audience accustomed to the highly Italianized taste in those times. Just after the premiere he declared himself in the Catalan Musical Magazine: "I do not think that in the first performance the audience can follow me in everything I want to express in the score, but I trust that in successive auditions I will allow I get to him, especially his feeling, from which I think that the technique should not be but a transmission vehicle and, the more refined and perfect, the more powerful it will reach the feeling of the audience. " But while Manen was quite misunderstood and in many cases little valued on his land, little by little he was opening doors as a composer in Germany; Acté was represented with great success in Dresden (1908), Colonia (1910) and Leipzig (1913) and thanks to the extraordinary public recognition that reached the work, his career as a composer acquires a new impulse. It is then when they see the light symphonic works of magnitude such as Nova Catalònia, Juventus and Suite for violin, piano and orchestra. In these first symphonic works we find a clear example of the style and the characteristics that will define the whole of his orchestral work. These are works that combine a highly skilled orchestration and a highly elaborate thematic elaboration, as a result of an assimilation of the Germanic repertoire, with the intuition and spontaneity of an extroverted musician and in many moments of eminently Mediterranean inspiration. [10]

Works listEdit

Compositions by Joan Manén classified by Opus
Title Instrumentation Movements Publisher Duration
Op A-1 Suite per a violí, piano i orquestra,perc.-strings, violin & piano soloist 1. Introduction: Allegro - 2. Scherzo: Allegretto mosso - 3. Catalana: Andante 4. Finale: Allegro energico Universal Edition 30'
Op A-2 Introducció, Andante i Variacions sobre un tema de Tartini, per a violí i orquestra perc., strings, soloist violin Introducció, Andante i Variacions Universal Edition
Op A-3 Petita suite espanyola per a violí i piano Violin and Piano 1. Rondalla - 2. Marina - 3. Andaluza - 4. Dolora - 5. Moto Perpetuo Max Eschig 15'
Op A-4 Cinc cançons alemanyes per a veu i piano Voice and Piano 1. Chopin 2. Mitternacht 3. Rosenbaum 4. Lenz-Tageweis 5. Reife. Editions Max Eschig / Juan Manén - Grafispania:Madrid / Huntsville, Tex.: Recital Publications (1989) 17'
Op A-4 nº5 "Liebesjubel" per a veu i piano Voice and Piano Juan Manén -Grafispania: Madrid
Op A-5 Juventus. Concerto grosso per a dos violins, piano i orquestra 2 violins, piano & orchestra I. Commodo- Allegro moderato II. Allegro non troppo III. Adagio IV Allegro Universal Edition
Op A-6 Quartet amb piano en fa menor "Mobilis in mobili" Piano quartet 1. Vigoroso - Allegro moderatto - 2. Allegretto gioccoso - 3. Andante - 4. Allegro ritmico Vidal & Llimona 31'
Concert per a violí i orquestra (discontinued) 1. Allegro non troppo - 2. Andante sostenuto - 3. Allegro con motto Universal Edition
Op A-7 "Concierto español" nº 1 per a violí i orquestra Violin & orchestra 1. Allegretto ben moderato - 2. Lamento - Adagio ma non troppo - 3. Allegro molto Universal Edition 31'
Op A-8 Cançó i Estudi per a violí i orquestra de corda / violí i piano Strings (5. 5. 3. 2. 2.) Universal Edition / Berlin: Raabe & Plothow 1910 (Op. A-8 nº2) 8'
Op A-9 Tres Cançons franceses per a veu i piano Voice & Piano Editions Max Eschig 10'
El Pross (discontinued) Pròleg- Acté I Primera jornada - Acte II Segona jornada - Acte III Tercera jornada- Epíleg
Op A-10 Quatre Cançons alemanyes per a veu i piano Voice & Piano 1-Schimmernder, flimmernder schmetterling 2. Serenade 3. Totenkranz 4.Prinzesschen Universal Edition / Juan Manén -Grafispania: Madrid (1950) Huntsville, Tex. : Recital Publications (1989)
Op A-11 Quatre cors Catalans per a veus mixtes i orquestra de cambra / veus mixtes i piano - perc.- strings Papallona i Margarida (13'30'') - Lo Pardal (5') – Els dos camins (6') Universal Edition (1934-1936) -discontinued
Ègloga per a cor i orquestra timp, perc., harp, strings manuscript (Arxiu Associació Joan Manén) 14'30
Op A-12 Tres Cançons Ibèriques per a cor de dones i piano Women Choir & Piano 1. Charmangarria cera (pop.vasca) - 2. Fuíme a la Pola por vino (pop.asturiana)3. Muntanyes regalades (pop.catalana) Universal Edition
Op A-13 Concert Simfònic per a piano i orquestra timp.,2 perc.-strings 1. Allegro non troppo - 2. Andante sostenuto - 3. Allegro con motto Universal Edition (1st version) – Manuscript (2nd version) 36'
Op A-14 Caprici nº 1 en la menor per a violí i orquestra / violí i piano - - perc., strings Universal Edition 11'30''
Op A-15 Caprici No. 2 en re menor per a violí i orquestra / violí i piano 2. 2. 2. 2 - 2. 2. 0. 0 – perc. - cordes Universal Edition / Huntsville, Texas: Recital Publications Huntsville (2006) 9'
Op A-16 Quartet per a corda en fa major String Quartet I. Matí (Transparencia) – II. Migdia (Exultació) - III. Vespre (Inquietuts) Universal Edition 30'
Op A-17 Nova Catalònia: Simfonia º1 per a gran orquestra 4. 4 .4. 4. - 6. 4. 4. 1. - percussion, 2 harps, piano, saxophone, strings 1. Terra i Raça 2. Poble i joia 3. La nostre cançó 4. Nova Catalònia Universal Edition 50'
Op A-18 Quintet per a piano i cordes "Lui et elle" en do menor Quintet for piano & Strings 1."Lui et elle" Allegro Assai 2. "Caresses" Adagio 3. "Eclat" Allegro Universal Edition 29'
Op A-19 Der Weg zur Sonne / El Camí del sol - 2 harps, piano (celesta), timpani, 2 percussions, strings Pròleg- Acté I Primera jornada - Acte II Segona jornada - Acte III Tercera jornada- Epíleg Universal Edition 1923
Op A-20 Balada per a violí i piano Violin & Piano Universal Edition 11'
Op A-21 Neró i Acté (Opera) 3. 3.3. 3 - 3. 4. 3. 1 - percussion, harp, celesta & strings Acte I - Acte II - Acte- III - Acte IV Leipzig: August Cranz 1928/ Karlsruhe : J. Manén, (reduction for voice & piano) 2h. 10'
Op A-22 Fantasia-Sonata per a guitarra Guitar Schoot Music – Editorial Berbén 18'
Op A-23 Obertura per a "La vida es sueño" - - timp.-2 perc., strings Adagio molto, misterioso e pesante-Allegro con fuoco-Doppio più lento Max Eschig 14'30''
Op A-24 Concerto da camera No. 2 per a violí, orquestra de corda i arpa Violin, String Orchestra & Harp 1. Presentació i desenvolupament 2. Sardana Universal Edition 25'
Op A-25 Dansa Ibèrica nº 1 per a violí i piano; Dansa Ibèrica nº 2 per a violí i piano Violin & Piano Universal Edition (n. 1) - 8'

(n.2) - 4'

Op A-26 Cançó ibèrica nº1 "Flecha" per a veu i piano; Cançó ibèrica nº 2 "Sardana" per a veu i piano / veu i orquestra Voice & Piano / Voice & Orchestra Max Eschig (n. 1) - 3'30''

(n.2) - 4'

Op A-27 Rosario la tirana, ballet en un acte per an orquestra - - timpani, 2 percussions, celesta, 2 harps, strings ( Max Eschig
A-28 Cor nº1: Muntanyes del Canigó; Cor nº2: Caprici sobre el cant popular "El Pardal" Choir Cor nº1: Muntanyes del Canigó

Cor nº2: Caprici sobre el cant popular "El Pardal"

Madrid, Grafispania (1959) 5'
Op A-29 Quadres, suite per a piano Piano 1. Entrada rústica 2. Escena en un abanico antiguo 3. Fantasias durante un sueño 4. Fiesta en el pueblo Max Eschig 25'
Op A-30 Interludi nº1 per a violí i piano Violin & Piano Max Eschig 4'30'
Op A-31 Concert per a violoncel i orquestra - timpani, strings Andante energico e pesante - Allegro con motto - Allegro non tanto Manuscript
Op A-32 Divertimento - perc., strings Schott Music 18'
Op A-33 Caprici català nº3 per a violí i orquestra / violí i piano - timpani, perc.- strings Los Angeles, Affiliated Musicians (vl & piano version) 10'
Op A-34 Heros; Interludi de l'òpera Heros per an orquestra; Cor nº 5 El petit maridet - 2 harps, piano (celesta), timpani, 2 percussion, strings Pròleg- Acté I Primera jornada - Acte II Segona jornada - Acte III Tercera jornada- Epíleg Epoca ideal, 1958 (Madrid: Grafispania) Interludi: 13'

Cor nº 5:


Op A-35 Don Juan; Introducció del segon acte i ball "La tarántula" del tercer de l'òpera "Don Juan", per an orquestra simfònica 3.2(+C.i.).1(+Cl.b.).2(+C-basn.) - harp, celesta, timpani, 2 perc., strings 1ª Part: "Don Juan" - Acte I "El salvamento", Acte II "La violación", Acte III "La quinta de Don Juan"

2ª Part: "El convidado de piedra" - Acte I "Estrella", Acte II "La emboscada", Acte III "La serenata"

3ª Part: "El eterno Don Juan"- Acte I "Orgia y Muerte", Acte II "Inmortalidad", Epíleg "En el espacio sideral"

Op A-36 Dansa Ibèrica nº3 "Calatayud" per a violí i piano Max Eschig 7'30''
Op A-37 Concert per a violí i orquestra nº 3 "Ibérico" timp.- perc. - strings. - soloist violin 1. Allegro energico 2. Enlace: Adagio pesante 3. Finale: Allegro con spirito Juan Manén, Barcelona
Op A-38 "El retrat de Dorian Gray" per an orquestra
Op A-39 Concert per an oboè i orquestra / / harp /strings/ soloist oboe 1. Moderato Cantabile - Allegro un poco mosso - 2. Enlace: Adagio - 3. Scherzo: Finale Manuscript
Op A-40 Belvedere: suite per a flauta i orquestra de corda / flauta i piano Optional extension with wind section ( 1-En un prado cimero 2-Garbo 3-Ante la tumba de nuestra inolvidable Memé 4-Danza popular, que no lo es Los Angeles: Affiliated Musicians / New York: Mills Music 24'30''
Op A-42 "Sonata di concerto" per a violoncel i piano Cello and Piano 1- Adagio-Allegro energico 2- Andantino amabile 3- Allegro ritmico e giusto Joan Manén (SGAE) 28'
Op A-43 "Elogio del fandango" 3.3. 2. 2. - 4. 3. 3. 1. - timp., perc., harp and strings Chester Novello 20'
Op A-44 "Diálogo" per a arpa, flauta, violí, viola i violoncel Harp, flute, violin, viola and cello Manuscript 16'
Op A-45 Soledad - , harp, timpani, percussion, strings Acte I - Acte II - Acte III Manuscript Acte I 65', acte II 40' , acte III 50'
Op A-46 "Romanza mística" per a violí i orquestra de corda / violí i piano Unión Musical Española
Op A-47 Cor nº 3 El dos camins; Cor nº 4 Muntanya de Montserrat; Simfonia Ibèrica nº2 Simfonia: 3.3(C.i.).4.3 – timpani, 2 perc., strings. (Simfonia Ibèrica n. 2): 1. Andante quasi adagio 2. Allegro scherzando 3. Andante pesante 4. Final Madrid, Grafispania (1959) cor n. 3: 6'

cor n. 4: 6'

Op A-48 Romança amorosa per a violí i orquestra de corda / violí i piano String Orchestra and soloist violin Unión Musical Española 10'
Op A-49 Concertino per a violí i orquestra; "Festividad", poema simfònic evocant una commemoració (Concertino) 2-2-2-2/2-2-0-0-/ timpani/ strings / soloist violin

("Festividad") timp., 1 perc., strings.

Manuscript ("Festividad") 13'
Op A-50 Rapsòdia Catalana per a piano i orquestra - timp.- strings Moderato cantabile- Allegretto mosso- Allegro- Doppio più lento- Allegro vivace Manuscript



  1. ^ Gesine Manuwald, Nero in Opera: Librettos as Transformations of Ancient Sources. (Tranformationen der Antike ; 24). Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013. ISBN 9783110317138. p.233-239.
  2. ^ OCLC 803922605 describes a manuscript copy of his 3rd concerto, "iberico".
  3. ^ OCLC 806389011 - published score of his piano quartet in F minor, Op.42, 1903
  4. ^ digitized by Sibley Library here
  5. ^ a b c d e f Sadie, Stanley (2001). Dictionari of Music and Musicians (vol. 15) (Second ed.). Oxford, England: The new grove. p. 750. ISBN 0-333-60800-3.
  6. ^ a b "Els inicis". joanmanen.cat. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  7. ^ "Orígens". joanmanen.cat. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  8. ^ "Primeres obres". joanmanen.cat. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  9. ^ "Desenvolupament". joanmanen.cat. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  10. ^ "Acté: Consolidació". joanmanen.cat. Retrieved 2019-05-08.