#156– July 18, 2022


Concerto No. 2 for Piano, Winds and Percussion by Spanish-American composer and conductor Leonardo Balada is our Composition of the Week.
Written in 1974, the concerto has a duration of 16 minutes. Balada’s music features extensive rhythmic variance and unique orchestration, often in service of a haunting atmosphere.

Balada was born in Barcelona, Spain. After studying piano at the “Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu” in Barcelona, Balada emigrated to the United States in 1956 to study at the New York College of Music on scholarship. He left that institution for the Juilliard School in New York, from which he graduated in 1960. He studied composition with Vincent Persichetti, Alexandre Tansman and Aaron Copland, and conducting with Igor Markevitch.
In 1981, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
He taught at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania starting in 1970, and retired in 2020.
Balada’s works from the early 1960s display some of the characteristics of neoclassicism, but he was ultimately dissatisfied with this technique, and in 1966 began to move towards a more avant-garde style, producing works such as Guernica.
Balada felt a need for a change again in 1975, his work from then onward being characterized by the combination of folk-dance rhythms with the avant-garde techniques of the previous period. Harmonically, Balada’s mature period work displays a combination of the tonality of folk music with atonality. Compositions representative of this period include Homage to Sarasate and Homage to Casals.
Balada’s works for winds have been recorded by Naxos Records.

Other works for winds include:

  • Cello Concerto No. 1 for nine players (1962)
  • Symphony No. 2 “Cumbres” (1972)
  • Viola Concerto (2009 – 2010)