Monday, October 27, 2014
Robert Gerhard i Ottenwaelder
Robert Gerhard i Ottenwaelder (1896 – 1970) was a Catalan composer and musical scholar and writer, generally known outside Catalonia as Roberto Gerhard. Roberto was the son of a German-Swiss father and an Alsatian mother. He was predisposed to an international, multilingual outlook, but by birth and culture he was a Catalan. He studied piano with Granados and composition with the great scholar-composer Felipe Pedrell.
Gerhard spent several years with Schoenberg in Vienna and Berlin. Returning to Barcelona in 1928, he befriended Joan Miró and Pablo Casals, brought Schoenberg and Webern to Barcelona, and was the principal organizer of the 1936 ISCM Festival there. He also collected, edited and performed folksongs and old Spanish music from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century.
Identified with the Republican cause throughout the Spanish Civil War (as musical adviser to the Minister of Fine Arts in the Catalan Government and a member of the Republican Government's Social Music Council), Gerhard was forced to flee to France in 1939 and later that year settled in Cambridge, England. Until the death of Francisco Franco, who made it his business to extirpate Catalan national aspirations, his music was virtually proscribed in Spain, to which he never returned except for holidays.