Cristóbal Halffter

Spanish classical composer and conductor (1930, Madrid)

If Cristóbal Halffter has always had at heart to promote the spread of new music – for example through the group Nueva música – one of his main concerns has been to make his music accessible to the public. He is one of those symbolic figures of Spanish contemporary music along with Luis de Pablo, Carmelo Bernaola and Joan Guinjoan.

Cristóbal Halffter grew up in a family of musicians: his uncles, Ernesto and Rodolfo Halffter, were both composers. After studying at the Madrid Royal Conservatory with Conrado del Campo among others, he furthered his training in private lessons with Polish born French composer Alexandre Tansman. Cristóbal rapidly embarked on the path of modernity, following the tradition of Darmstadt School, and started composing works using serial, aleatoric and electronic techniques. Appointed director of the Conservatory of Madrid in 1964, he left two years later to focus on his compositions and on his conductor career.

Deeply involved in the outreach of contemporary Spanish music, Cristóbal Halffter was aware of the need to include the latest innovations from the contemporary European repertoire into authentic Spanish music. Moreover was one the most important composer of the Generación del 51, a group of composers focused on renewing the Spanish music landscape through the introduction of European avant-garde techniques. Cristóbal Halffter has been the author of a varied and rich repertoire, and was awarded in many occasions.

6 landmark dates in the life of Cristóbal Halffter:

1948: Started studying at the Madrid Royal Conservatory.

1952: Collaboration with Spanish radios

1954: Awarded the National Music Prize with his Piano Concerto.

1957: Helped founding the Nueva Música group, in Rome.

1968: Composed a number of works relating to human rights, including his choral work Yes, speak out, yes 

1989: Became the main conductor of the National Madrid Orchestra.

Biography from Radio France’s document database, June 2014.