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Goya's Maja's Paintings Inspire Granados Piano Suite 'The Goyescas'

Updated on June 24, 2016

The Naked Maja

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The Goyescas

The clothed Maja: A source of inspiration for Granados mesmerizing piano suite the  'Goyescas'
The clothed Maja: A source of inspiration for Granados mesmerizing piano suite the 'Goyescas' | Source

Quejas, ó la Maja y el Ruiseñor—The Maiden and the Nightingale

Granados often called the poet of the piano is frequently compared with Chopin due to the highly ornamental figuration as well the influence of nationalist folk music in their melodies and rhythms

Regarding Goyescas, Granados wrote, "I am enamored with the psychology of Goya, with his palette, with him, with his muse the Duchess of Alba, with his quarrels with his models, his loves and flatteries. That whitish pink of the cheeks, contrasting with the blend of black velvet; those subterranean creatures, hands of mother-of-pearl and jasmine resting on jet trinkets, have possessed me."

The story of Goyescas is based on a series of six paintings from Francisco Goya’s early career, inspired by the stereotypical young men and women of the majismo movement. "majos” and "majas" are known for their bohemian attitude and spirited nature. In this tale of the goyescas, the four main characters are Rosaria an enchanting aristocratic woman, her lover Fernando the captain of the royal guard, Pepa the maja and Paquiro the majo / toreador. A love triangle is formed when Paquiro flirts with Rosaria and invites her to a dance. Although she ignored his advances, Fernando did observe Paquiro’s advances and now does not trust Rosaria. Pepa also infuriated by Paquiro’s attentions to another woman seeks revenge. Later at the party, tensions are high and culminate in the two majos seeking to fight a dual. Later Rosaria sings a mournful ballad to a nightingale as she fears she will lose him. Fernando approaches and she begs him not to go to the dual and tries to reassure him of her devotion only to him. He still does not fully trust her, and wishes to prove his majismo, and promises to return to Rosaria victorious. Alas, Fernando is fatally wounded in the dual, and the grief stricken Rosaria drags him back to the bench where she sang to the nightingale and professed her love to him. Fernando then dies in her arms.

Quejas o La Maja y el Ruisenor the fourth piece of the Goyescas is the only one in the set with a key signature. The monothematic piece is based on a folksong Granados heard sung by a girl in the Valencia countryside. Granados transforms the haunting melody into five variations. It is the scene where Rosaria sings mournfully to the nightingale. The variations start in f# minor, move to b minor and back to f# minor which follows with the nightingale responding in a beautiful cadenza of elaborate figuration. Although there are five variations of the folksong, the piece is written in an improvisational manner where the variations flow directly into the next.


The Duchess of Alba

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The Clothed Maja

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Quejas, o La Maja y el Ruiseñor/The Maiden and the Nightingale

The Different Faces of Francisco Goya

Goya's Paintings on Stamps

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Goya's Maja

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Goya's Maja

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    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I love art and music as well. Thanks to introduce "Los Majos Enamorados" with us. I learn many things from you. Good job and rated up!

      Prasetio

    • jamila sahar profile image
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      jamila sahar 5 years ago

      many thanks for reading, it is an amazing piece of music, and i love how the work collaborates with other artistic mediums in this case from goya, it made me much more aware of this incredible artist and also learned a lot about the history in europe / spain during this time period. goya as an artist went through quite a few transformations in his art as well.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I am familiar with the majas, having seen some of them on my trip to Spain. But did not know of their relationship to musical pieces. Thanks for pointing those out. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • jamila sahar profile image
      Author

      jamila sahar 5 years ago

      Many thanks for your kind words alocsin, as a pianist, i always do a great deal of research in preparing pieces for performances. mostly for my own knowledge of understanding the history of how and why the music was composed, what was the source of inspiration. in this case i was pleasantly surprised to learn of Granados infatuation with Goya's paintings of the Maja's of his day, including the Duchess of Alba. learning the Goyescas, has taken on a life of its own, starting with a study of the life of Francisco Goya, which i also hope will cumulate into a trip to Spain and the Prado Museum as well. i would love to hear of your trip, and which areas you had the pleasure of visiting. i look forward to being able to produce performances which include other art mediums such as visual artwork to complement the piano performance. thanks for reading :-)

    • Jason R. Manning profile image

      Jason R. Manning 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Understanding the drive behind a piece of music or art is the only true way to capture and attempt to recreate. You’ve done a wonderful job of recreating this moment for us, what a lovely addition to Hubpages. Looking forward to much more of this from you. Cheers.

    • jamila sahar profile image
      Author

      jamila sahar 5 years ago

      greetings jason, what kind words, many thanks, i am very passionate about my art and also have great respect for other artists in all mediums and forms of creativity. i look forward to reading your hubs as well. thank you for inspiring me to share more of my passion through writing.

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