Xavier Benguerel was
born in Barcelona in 1931. He moved to Santiago de Chile in 1940 with
his parents –as a result of the Spanish Civil War-. He returned
to Barcelona in 1954 a key year in his artistic career. There was his
entrance to the so called “generation of 51” and the beginning
of his studies with Cristòfor Taltabull, although his musical
formation was basically self-taught, these two facts are very significant
since they imply a rapid insertion within the musical movement of his
country and simultaneously a contact with the most advanced and progressive
technology that had taken place in Europe in the course of the first
half 20th century.
Benguerel was rapidly immersed in the new trends such as those produced
by Bartok, or Stravinsky followed shortly by those of the Vienna School.
In 1959 he writes Cantata d’Amic i Amat and incorporates
in this work new techniques and serial procedures and is included in
the programme of the SIMC International Festival 1960, Cologne.
We can.highlight the following landmarks in his career, the monographic
concert at the Palau de la Música Catalana of Barcelona (1972);
the Luigi Dallapicola prize (1977); the following commissions: City
of Hagen; Festival Schütz of Berlin; Südwestfunk of Baden
Baden; Biennale of Zagreb; Orquesta Nacional de Madrid; Orquesta de
RTVE; Contemporary Alicante Festival, 1990; Torroella de Montgri Festival;
Dom zu Speyer; Sant Feliu de Guíxols Festival; Orquestra Simfònica
de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, etc. One must also note the first
performance in Barcelona of his chamber opera “Spleen” (1984)
that the following year was presented in Frankfurt’s Opera.
Nevertheless, the work that has most helped to internationally promote
his name is Llibre vermell, oratory for soloists, choir and orchestra,
based on 14th century songs and dances kept in the Monastery of Montserrat´s
famous codex of the same name. The first performance was in the Gran
Teatre del Liceu de Barcelona in 1988 with later performances in different
cities in Europe.
Later on composed Two Poems by Charles Baudelaire, for baritone
and orchestra, commissioned by the “Concert of Catalunya’s
Millenium” (1991) was first performed that same year at the Gran
Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona.
Books published about his work:
Carles Guinovart and Tomás Marco: Xavier Benguerel (Generalitat
de Catalunya, 1991).
Jesús Rodriguez Picó: Xavier Benguerel, work and style
(Idea Books, 2001).
Jorge de Persia: Xavier Benguerel, search and intuition (SGAE. 2006).
Tomás Marco: Xavier Benguerel (Universidad Complutense, Madrid,
In 1993 wrote Te Deum, a hommage to the sculptor J.M. Subirachs for
soloists choir and orchestra.
In 2001, the Ministry of Culture in Madrid, commission Benguerel to
write an opera: I, Dalí, for the occasion of the centenary of
the birth of the painter. This opera will be permormed for the first
time in June 2011 at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid, and in September
at the Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona.
2005 he was nominated “Patró d’Honor de la Fundació
Orfeó Català-Palau de la Música” of Barcelona.The
same year he donates all his manuscripts and musical material to the
Biblioteca de Catalunya.
2007 he is nominated A Counselor of SGAE.
2015 XIII Premio SGAE de la Música Iberoamericana Tomás Luis de Victoria.
Benguerel's music has a very personal style, from the intimate pieces,
for a solo instrument, to opera, cantata, symphonic works or that of
He owns an extensive discography.
Died in Barcelona on August 10, 2017.