The origin of the Palau de la Música Catalana

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 September 2023 Monday 11:00
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The origin of the Palau de la Música Catalana

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia

Barcelona has always been linked to culture, which throughout its history has led it to be a pioneer in cultural events: opera, zarzuela and theater. Subsequently, new forms and trends have been added to these three sections.

The lack of state contributions that other cities had made many prominent men sharpen their ingenuity throughout their history, who achieved the construction of the Liceo, Principal Palacio, Tinola and the Palacio de la Música theaters on their own.

This love of culture began in 1603 with the first theater built in the city, by the Hospital de la Santa Cruz, which apart from offering plays, concerts and musical auditions, used the profits to help the survival of the old Hospital.

A few years later the Lyceum was built, with private contributions, as it did not have the sponsorship of the monarchy of the time. This was the reason why it is the only opera house that does not have a "royal box".

But Barcelona, ​​which apart from an opera house, wanted to have an auditorium where good music could be heard, wanted to have a venue so that music lovers could listen to the best lyrical voices and the best concerts.

He wanted to have a stage for his choral masses that had emerged in the city in the 18th century, especially the Orfeó Català, which, under the guidance of Lluís Millet, had gained great renown and world fame.

Lluis Millet, who in 1891 had been the founder of the Orfeó Català together with Amadeu Vives, wanted to provide the choir with a place to be its headquarters and where it could hold rehearsals and concerts. For this he sought the collaboration of Catalan industrialists and financiers, music lovers.

Millet looked for a place in the old part of the city to build the new building and, after a long search, he found a place that at first seemed ideal, especially when it seemed that the friars had it half abandoned: the part of the convent of the Church of San Francisco de Paula on Alta de San Pedro Street.

Millet contacted the prior of the church whose friars wanted to get rid of the cloister and had it for sale and quickly managed to complete the operation. Immediately afterwards he spoke with Lluís Domènech i Montaner, so that he could carry out a project that would be worthy of hosting a venue of that category.

The construction took place between 1905 and 1908, with a structure with the application of large glass walls and the integration of all the arts: sculpture, mosaics, stained glass and wrought iron. Three years after the start of the works, on February 9, 1908, its inauguration was celebrated.

The auditorium was intended for concerts of orchestral and instrumental music, as well as choral performances and recitals by singers. Cultural and political events, plays and of course the most varied musical performances were also held at the Palau.

The capacity of the concert hall is 2,049 spectators distributed in:

The mouth of the stage is eleven meters wide and is decorated with a sculptural group by Dídac Masana, which represents on the right side the bust of Beethoven below the ride of the Valkyries and the representation of Catalan popular music on the left side. , with the bust of Josep Anselm Clavé, under a large tree at the foot of which is a group of singers.

The church of the former convent of San Francisco de Paula, converted into a parish, survived until it was demolished to undertake an expansion of the Palau, which was carried out by the architect Óscar Tusquets, who planned a plaza on the site to be able to admire the immense stained glass window that had been hidden by the church, he flanked it with two red brick towers and built the Petit Palau hall in the basement of the square, with a capacity for six hundred people.

But the Palau also has an unknown history as a cinema that we have already learned about in another article.