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Granados’ Food Fight


They were the most distinguished composers in Spain — Enrique Granados, Isaac Albeniz, Pablo de Sarasate, and Enrique Arbos. During summers in the 1890’s they met occasionally at a music shop in San Sebatian where they engaged in small talk and put on informal concerts. One of the concerts turned out to be so informal that it degenerated into a food fight.

The trouble began with a suggestion by Granados. His idea was that he and his colleagues would form an orchestra in which each of them would play an instrument about which he knew nothing. The result — a famous singer became an extremely amateur violinist, Albeniz–best known as a pianist–grappled with a wind instrument. Granados played on comb and paper or conducted, depending upon his whim. The ungainly ensemble rehearsed in the open patio behind the music shop. And though they did their best to remain discrete, stories about the orchestra quickly circulated, so that before long the king himself had heard about it and asked about its progress.

The progress, apparently, was not encouraging. The residents of the area adjacent to the patio were mostly cooks and domestic servants. And one day, as Granados was conducting the group in a performance of a full-fledged symphony, the neighbors decided that they had heard enough. At first the orchestra may have thought they were feeling rain, but when they looked up, tbey saw a cloudless sky. As they played on, the blue sky opened up with a downpour of rotten fruit, eggs, vegetable peels and other household debris.

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Granados kept right on conducting, despite the deluge and an increasing racket of shouts and catcalls and the banging of trays and kitchen utensils, and the battered orchestra stayed with him until at last he swept his arms in a final gesture. Then he bowed ceremoniously to the right and to the left and retired in a dignified manner although his clothes were caked with garbage and completely ruined.

It had been one of the less glamorous concert appearances of the eminent Spanish composer—and occasional conductor-Enrique Granados

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