Carlos Surinach

Carlos Surinach (or Carles Suriñach)[1] i Wrokona (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkaɾləs suɾiˈɲak]; March 4, 1915 – November 12, 1997) was a Spanish-born composer and conductor.

Life and career

Carlos Surinach was born in Barcelona, where he held conducting posts at the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona and the Gran Teatre del Liceu. He studied composition with Enrique Morera at the Barcelona Conservatory, then went to Germany where he studied in Berlin with Max Trapp and Richard Strauss, taking five of Strauss' seminars. In 1948 his opera El mozo que casó con mujer brava premiered in Barcelona. In 1951, he emigrated to the United States, where he became a successful ballet composer. He became a U.S. citizen in 1959.

He composed three ballet scores for the choreographer Martha Graham: Embattled Garden (1958), Acrobats of God (1960), and The Owl and the Pussycat (1978). He also composed Feast of Ashes for the Joffrey Ballet. His Harp Concerto was commissioned by Charles Royce for his daughter Maria. The premiere was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1978, with Nicanor Zabaleta playing the solo part. The concerto was then performed by Maria Royce at Interlochen. The Surinach Harp Concerto has not been played since.

Surinach also orchestrated part of Isaac Albéniz's piano suite Iberia.

His notable students include Louis W. Ballard.

Surinach died in New Haven, Connecticut, United States, aged 82.

The BMI Foundation sponsors The Carlos Surinach Awards and Commissioning Programs, which recognizes talented emerging young musicians for their service to American music and funds the creation of new works by former winners of the BMI Student Composer Awards. The program was established by a bequest from Surinach.

The final "ch" in Surinach's surname is pronounced "k", following ancient Catalan orthography (in modern orthography this phoneme is rendered with a "c"). The "ch" ending is commonly found in Catalan surnames, many of which retain this spelling. Also, before Surinach left Spain, his surname was spelled "Suriñach", with a tilde over the "n". He eventually dropped this tilde, but saw the original spelling used on concert posters whenever he visited Spain.


  • Symphony No. 1, Sinfonía Passacaglia (1945)
  • El mozo que casó con mujer brava (1948), opera
  • Symphony No. 2 (1949–50)
  • Sinfonietta Flamenca (1953)
  • Ritmo Jondo (1953), ballet
  • Hollywood Carnival (1954)
  • Fandango (1954)
  • Feria Magica (1956), overture
  • Concertino for Piano, Strings and Cymbals (1956)
  • Symphony No. 3, Sinfonía Chica (1957)
  • Embattled Garden (1958), ballet
  • Paeans and Dances of Heathen Iberia (1959)
  • Sonatina (1959), for solo guitar
  • Acrobats of God (1960), ballet
  • Symphonic Variations for Orchestra (1962)
  • Feast of Ashes (1962), ballet
  • Cantata of St. John (1962)
  • Songs of the Soul (1964), for chorus
  • Drama Jondo (1965)
  • Melorhythmic Dramas (1966)
  • Flamenco Cyclothymia (1967)
  • Via Crucis: a cycle of fifteen saetas (1970), for chorus and guitar
  • Concerto for piano and orchestra (1973)
  • Prayers (1973), for solo voice
  • Chronique (1974), ballet
  • Celebraciones Medievales (1977), for chorus
  • Concerto for String Orchestra (1978)
  • The Owl and the Pussycat (1978), ballet
  • Harp Concerto (1978)
  • Violin Concerto (1980)
  • Melismas sinfónicos (1985)
  • Quimera (1989), ballet
  • Double concerto for flute, double bass and chamber orchestra (1990)


  1. Carles Surinach Archived September 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine


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