The musical personality that has impressed me the most throughout my life has been that of Rubinstein". With these words, Alicia de Larrocha began an emotional article in La Vanguardia on the occasion of the death of the Polish piano legend, in 1982. And with these same words, Javier Perianes assures today that any writing about the immortal Alicia de Larrocha could begin. "He is one of the most relevant and unique musical personalities in history and a model for any musician. Devotion and absolute respect for music in capital letters, honesty and professional honesty... In addition to a sense of rhythm, virtuosity, color and sound absolutely dazzling”.
It is defined by the pianist from Huelva, who at 44 years old represents just one of several generations of performers who have been impacted by the universal Barcelona woman, born on the same day as today in 1923, at 263 bis of Carrer Còrsega, corner Enric Granados ... “An enormous talent. And an even more enormous work capacity. An example to follow... if possible", adds the nonagenarian Joaquín Achúcarro. “He gave thousands of hours of happiness to thousands of people all over the world. That's why we don't forget her and those of us who treated her as a friend, sister and companion in the vice of piano addiction miss her music and above all her person".
The third of four children, the mother, Teresa de la Calle, had been a disciple of Granados: little Alicia grew up in a very musical environment. At the age of four, he was taught by Frank Marshall, a follower of the Granados piano school and his only teacher. He put within his reach figures such as the aforementioned Arthur Rubinstein (they had a close friendship) or Alfred Cortot and Emil von Sauer.
His public presentation, in 1929, was at the Marshall Academy, after a dissertation by Maestro Turina, admired for that exceptional talent. At the age of 11 he made his debut with an orchestra: Mozart's Coronation with Joan Lamote de Grignon conducting the Municipal Band. When the Civil War took Marshall into exile, she took the opportunity to compose small pieces. And when the Second World War ended, it took off internationally, demanded by festivals and orchestras everywhere. And when Marshall died, he collected the testimony of the academy, and toasted Barcelona's pianistic heritage.
"It is an indisputable reference to Spanish nationalist music and many more records from its immense repertoire - points out Josep Colom (Barcelona, 1947)-. I would highlight the enormous will and ability to work and even more the genuine humility. She shunned praise, never spoke negatively of anyone and was always close to colleagues and students."
Alicia's recordings and live performances accompanied Albert Guinovart (Barcelona, 1962) from an early age, for whom the pianist was always an example and reference to follow, in everything: "Her genius increases with humility, self-demand and passion for music above personalisms. One of the greats of music". Another Barcelona resident, Alba Ventura, from 1978, says that "Alicia's memory and wonderful recordings continue to teach us that music deserves to be interpreted honestly, without effects or exaggerations. Respect, love for music and rigor". Finally, the youngest of the capital's stars, Ignasi Cambra, insists: "He is an example of a complete pianist. Because it is often known from the Spanish repertoire, but if you listen to it in Mozart, Liszt or concerts no. 3 by Rachmaninov, they are spectacular. The humility when he approaches the works without making any unnecessary spectacle, but at the same time with extraordinary technical and musical abilities, means that he transmits this I don't know what difficult to repeat".
The husband, Joan Torra, gave up his incipient piano career to take care of the academy and the children during his absences. After two decades as a widow, in 2003 she announced her retirement. She had played with Gaspar Cassadó, Mistlav Rostropóvitx, Conxita Badia, Victòria dels Àngels, Montserrat Caballé, Josep Carreras... and in a piano duo with André Previn and Francis Poulenc... Multi-awarded, she continued to teach. And he took them home when he fractured his femur. He died in 2009, aged 86.
Today the Russian Varvara dedicates Ibercamera's Goldberg Variations to him at the Palau: "Years ago, as a student, I learned Soler's Sonatas. And, of course, I listened to the records of the iconic Alicia and even tried (like thousands of bad students) to imitate her. It didn't work. A few weeks ago I went back to work with Soler and heard her again. And I suddenly realized that, in addition to incredible clarity, purity and brilliance, he has absolute conviction and a quiet faith in his interpretation. It doesn't need any special effects and it's impossible to imitate it, you can only admire and enjoy it."