Manuel de Falla’s inexhaustible Don Quixote

Nombramiento de Hijo Adoptivo de Granada a Manuel de Falla. Pergamino de Hermenegildo Lanz, 1927. Casa Museo Manuel de Falla, Granada.

Cervantes was one of Manuel de Falla’s favourite authors, whose works he read and revisited time after time. In addition to Don Quixote, the composer had twenty-one volumes in his library with other works by the writer, including multiple copies of a few preferred titles. His keen in-terest is illustrated by the fact that, for example, he owned seven different editions of the short story El celoso extremeño. Falla also kept abreast of the news on all things Cervantes: he at-tended lectures, inquired about festivals, pored over the latest publications, and even acquired several volumes as gifts for his godchildren, obviously hoping to instil a love for that cultural legacy in the younger generation.

The musician assembled quite a collection of Don Quixote editions: thirty copies produced in very different styles and periods, including translations into French, English and German. Based on these facts, we  can conclude that Falla had developed a case of genuine “Quixotemania”, idolising the gentleman from La Mancha as the epitome of Spanish culture. Indeed, in 1922 the composer referred to Don Quixote as an “inexhaustible” character, and three years later he admitted that, for him, setting Cervantes to music had been “the most beautiful priesthood”. The fact that Falla was working on a film version of El retablo de maese Pedro just a few months before his death proves that Don Quixote was a recurring theme from the beginning to the end of his creative career.

2. The creative process

1. The magic of puppets