Classical 91.5

The Quiet Beauty of Federico Mompou

May 17, 2017

Frederico Mompou in 1955

“Mompou is evoking in music the silence…and the silence is music.”  

When guitarist Rafaella Smits visited Rochester, she played and spoke about music by Catalan - French - Spanish composer Federico Mompou (1893-1987).

I think it’s fair to say Mompou is one of the composers with a “cult” following – he’s not mainstream famous, even among those who routinely listen to classical music, yet his music is beloved and revered by those who are in the know.  

Mompou was a very shy, quiet person (in an interview, he described his favorite pastimes as “Contemplation. Meditation. The Cinema.”) He did not play the piano in public concerts, only at private gatherings – which may have kept him from wider fame.

But we do have some recordings of Mompou playing his own music, made later in his life: 


Pianist Stephen Hough writes beautifully about the elusive nature and paradoxes of Mompou’s music -

“The music of Federico Mompou is the music of evaporation…the composer's muse begins and ends with innocence as a search for air beyond the smoke of experience.”

Take some time to read the rest of Stephen Hough's musings on Mompou's piano music

Mompou died in the 1980s, 94 years old and honored in both France and Spain. A few of his pieces have been orchestrated and turned into works for ballet - though I couldn't find video of these productions.  

If you want to explore his evocative musical worlds, you have a few hundred piano pieces, songs, and works for guitar in which to get lost. If we cross paths in these distant dreams - don't worry about stopping for small talk; I'll understand if we just exchange a quiet nod as we wander on our ways.