Abraham Tena Manrique

Pianist and composer




In April 2018, Abraham Tena Manrique is appointed President of the WPTA-SPAIN-COMPOSITION (World Piano Teachers Association). The WPTA is an association that exists in more than thirty countries around the world, where it organizes annual conferences, competitions of piano, composition, chamber music, as well as recitals and masterclasses. Abraham Tena Manrique will be the Chairman of the 1st International Composition Competition of the WPTA-SPAIN, which will take place in May 2019. At the end of 2017, the Da Vinci publishing house, which also has a record label of great international recognition, edits a CD with several of the works of Abraham Tena Manrique, performed by himself and recorded at the Auditori Pau Casals.

Between the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, Abraham Tena Manrique offers several recitals in which he performs the eighteen works for piano of the CD that the Da Vinci publishing house publishes at the end of 2017, performed by the composer and recorded at the recognized Auditori Pau Casals.

The Real Artistic Circle of Barcelona is the emblematic place chosen for this presentation, since its privileged location in the Pignatelli Palace, right in the center of Barcelona, together with the beauty of its concert hall and the prestige of the entity - one of the main bastions where Catalan Modernism was developed - make this institution founded in 1881 the ideal place for the first concert of the musician of this season. The digital music magazine Clásica2 echoes this tour beginning, as it has done so many times with its achievements nationally and internationally.

Without leaving aside its concert facet, it is also worth mentioning the Closing Concert that it offers in the III Edition of the International Festival Villa de Xàbia (Alicante), invited by Nati Ballarín, director and founder of the same. Interested in the composer's piano works, she creates the "Abraham Tena Manrique" prize for the VI Edition of the Villa de Xàbia International Piano Competition - of which she is also founder and director - which will take place next June 2018.

In 2017, Abraham Tena Manrique, becomes a member of two great associations of composers in Spain, such the Federation of Associations of Iberian Composers (FAIC) and the Associació Catalana de Compositors (ACC). The ACC programmed (February, 2018) a concert with the pianist Fedor Veselov in Barcelona, where the great russian pianist played Khárôn I Op. 32, by Tena Manrique.

In 2017, the Japanese publishing house Da Vinci - directed by Edmondo Filippini, Director of the Mozart Foundation of Osaka, which has the support of the Italian Institute of Culture of Osaka - has published eighteen works for piano by Abraham Tena Manrique. A collaboration with this publisher is opened with which he will publish in the near future all his piano production, which amounts to almost fifty compositions.

In 2016, the soloists of the OCNE (National Orchestra and Choir of Spain), premiered their Octeto Séneca Op. 31 at the National Auditorium in Madrid, after recording in Estudio 206, Radio Clásica's musical program (RNE).

However, at the present time the work of Tena Manrique is not limited only to its interpretative aspect and to the editorial, since the composer is also writing the Cantata The Seven Words of Christ on the Cross, commissioned by Sergio Espejo, pianist of the National Orchestra and Choir of Spain (OCNE), to be presented at one of the Satellite Concert organized annually by the OCNE at the Madrid Auditorium. This will not be his first composition premiered at the Auditorium, since on March 1, 2016 the soloists of the OCNE performed his Octeto Séneca Op. 31, written by order of the aforementioned pianist, previous recording in Estudio 206, Radio's musical program Classical (RNE).

This work was published by the centenary Editorial Boileau, joining their compositions already published during the previous year: the Quixote String Quartet Op. 22a and the Don Quixote Opus 22B violin and cello piano trio.

The Japanese publisher Da Vinci - directed by Edmondo Filippini, Director of the Mozart Foundation of Osaka and sponsored by the Italian Institute of Culture in Osaka - has published eighteen works for piano by Abraham Tena Manrique.

Since 2012, many musicians have premiered and performed some of their works for piano, piano for four hands and for piano and clarinet, and other compositions for other chamber ensembles. Kiev Portella, founding member of the Mompou Foundation and excellent pianist, interprets several of his works assiduously in Barcelona, Tarragona or Menorca, to name a few cities.

Likewise, George Sand Piano Duo premiered and often performed two of his compositions for piano four hands, one of them written and dedicated to this chamber group, The garden of the Hesperides Op. 37, in theaters of Madrid, Lugo, Palma de Mallorca and Mérida.

Raquel del Val premieres in London, in February 2017, the Bagatelle Op. 23 'Alborada', Jenna Sung does the same with the 2 Preludes Op. 26 in Birmingham, Patricia García Gil premieres the seven fantasies The Pilgrim Path Op. 20 in Huesca, Anthi and Kostaq Vrame perform the Fantasie for piano four hands Op. 1 in Albania and Luis Becerra premieres Khárôn I Op. 32 and interprets it, as well as among other stages, in the Rodrigo hall of the Palau de la Música in Valencia, and many more artists, such as Isabel Pérez Dobarro, Amy Jones, Joana Resendes, Riccardo Bozolo, all of them of recognized international prestige.



What does music mean to you personally?

Through music and only through it we are able to express the most intense things of our existence. There are words that can not convey their true meaning, what really lies at the bottom of their meaning. And I honestly believe that they are the most important words in any language. Love, nostalgia, suffering, goodbye, longing, sadness, death, emptiness, despair ... words that we all pronounce throughout our lives, but that only through music can transmit those emotions that with words fall short.

A través de la música y solo a través de ella somos capaces de expresar las cosas más intensas de nuestra existencia. Hay palabras que no pueden transmitir su verdadero significado, lo que realmente subyace en el fondo de su significado. Y creo honestamente que son las palabras más importantes en cualquier idioma. Amor, nostalgia, sufrimiento, adiós, añoranza, tristeza, muerte, vacío, desesperación... palabras que todos pronunciamos a lo largo de nuestras vidas, pero que solo a través de la música pueden trasmitir esas emociones que con las palabras quedan cortas.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

No, of course not. An example What is behind the 3rd movement of Sonata No. 29 Op. 106 "Hammerklavier" by Beethoven ? We found Beethoven. There is no fantasy, there is truth. The truth.

No, por supuesto que no. Un ejemplo ¿Qué hay detrás del 3er movimiento de la Sonata núm 29 Op. 106 "Hammerklavier" de Beethoven?. Encontramos a Beethoven. No hay fantasía, hay verdad. La verdad.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I loved drawing as a child and I continued to do it as a young man. I went from piano to paper. I left Bach for a few hours and I began to paint with a pencil. I also liked chemistry. I have technical training and qualifications. But nothing has ever attracted me as much as music. My grandfather, my great grandfather, my great grandfather ... they were musicians. I carry it in my genes and maybe it was predestined.

Me encantaba dibujar desde niño y seguía haciéndolo de joven. Iba del piano al papel. Dejaba por unas horas a Bach y me ponía a pintar con lápiz. También me gustaba la química. Tengo formación y titulación de técnico. Pero nunca nada me ha atraído tanto como la música. Mi abuelo, mi bisabuelo, mi tatarabuelo...eran músicos. Lo llevo en mis genes y quizás estaba predestinado.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

No I'm not. Cultured music is for minorities, always has been. And always will be. And of course I do not agree with those who say that musicians have to bring music to the public, that we have to make music more attractive to fill concert halls, to attract a new audience. In my opinion, music should not be popularized to attract more audiences. Will be an error. The great composers, writers, painters did not, who are we to do it?

No, no lo estoy. La música culta es para minorías, siempre lo ha sido. Y así será siempre. Y por supuesto no estoy de acuerdo con aquellos que dicen que los músicos tenemos que acercar la música al público, que hemos de hacer más atractiva la música para llenar salas de concierto, para atraer a un público nuevo. En mi opinión no hay que popularizar la música para atraer a más público. Sería un error. Los grandes compositores, escritores, pintores no lo hicieron, ¿quienes somos nosotros para hacerlo?.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I honestly believe that the importance of music is so great in the history of civilizations, that no matter what happens in this century and in the years to come, none of that will change. Music will remain a basic pillar at any time in our future history, one way or another.

Honestamente creo que la importancia de la música es tan grande en la historia de las civilizaciones pasadas, que pase lo que pase en este siglo y en los venideros, nada de eso va a cambiar. La música seguirá siendo un pilar básico en cualquier momento de nuestra historia futura, de una manera u otra.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I do not think we have to be more creative than what once had to be any of the musicians who are now recognized, or those who have fallen into oblivion. You have to be creative, but without falling into extravagances to please a specific audience. I think the important thing is the work, the creative process, whatever it may be, wherever it comes from. Without falsehoods, without unnecessary excesses. We have to be honest with what we want to say, neither more nor less and, this is a very personal perception of me, there are artists who want to do something so original, that in that way looking for originality, they get lost.

In my case, there are many works that I have written until today, which are created thanks to another work of art, thanks to the reading of the great names of literature (Proust, Seneca, Nietzsche, Tolstoy ...). Art creates art. To give some examples: Confession Op. 8 and Op. 31, Khárôn I, II, III Op. 32, 33 and 34, Absence Op. 38 and 39. In other cases my works are a personal diary. To give an example, the 2 Nocturnes Op. 4. were written when my maternal grandmother died. A person I loved deeply, a person who is attached to my life as a child and as a young person.

No creo que tengamos que ser más creativos que lo que en su día tuvieron que ser cualquiera de los músicos que hoy en día son reconocidos, o los que han caído en el olvido. Hay que ser creativos, pero sin caer en las extravangancias para agradar a un público determinado. Creo que lo importante es la obra, el proceso creativo, sea el que sea, venga de donde venga. Sin falsedades, sin excesos innecesarios. Hay que ser honestos con lo que queremos decir, ni más ni menos y, esto es una percepción mía muy personal, hay artistas que quieren hacer algo tan original, que en ese camino buscando la originalidad, se pierden.

En mi caso, son muchas las obras que he escrito hasta hoy, que son creadas gracias a otra obra de arte, gracias a la lectura de los grandes nombres de la literatura (Proust, Seneca, Nietzsche, Tolstoi...). El arte crea arte. Por poner algunos ejemplos: Confession Op. 8 y Op. 31, Khárôn I, II, III Op. 32, 33 y 34, Absence Op. 38 y 39. En otros casos mis obras son un diario personal. Por poner un ejemplo, los 2 Nocturnos Op. 4. Los escribí cuando murió mi abuela materna. Una persona a la quería profundamente, una persona que está unida a mi vida de niño y de joven.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

As I said before, the audience that attends concerts is faithful, knows what it is going for. If we make strange experiments, or make music more to the taste of young people, we will surely lose an audience, which I personally prefer to see in my concerts. The public devoted to music is the one that must be taken care of. Young people will stop being young and that is when (some) will approach music, music as a work of art. We wait for them.

Como ya he dicho antes, el público que asiste a conciertos es fiel, sabe a lo que va. Si hacemos experimentos extraños, o hacemos música más al gusto de los jóvenes, perderemos seguramente a un público, que yo personalmente prefiero ver en mis conciertos. El público entregado a la música es el que hay que cuidar. Los jóvenes dejarán de ser jóvenes y será entonces cuando (algunos) se acerquen a la música, a la música como obra de arte. Les esperamos.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

Khárôn, (Charon), is a character that has attracted me since my youth. A boatman who carries the souls of the dead from one shore to another of the Styx. I have always found it fascinating; that cadence of your oars, that mist that accompanies the traveler the whole journey, the lost souls that we find in this last trip ... fascinating, really fascinating. From this image came my three Khárön Fantasies (Khárôn I Op. 32, Khárôn II Op. 33, Khárôn III Op. 34). There are several reasons that can be heard in the three fantasies, as driving motives that allow us to hear the three works as one. I think I was able to give voice to the traveler and his fears, to the souls floating in the lake and their anguish, I even think I found the tempo for the slow and constant cadence of the oars sinking in those waters. A heavy rhythm that allows us to gradually move towards the other shore. A work (3 Fantasies Khárôn), which ends when we reach the shore, it can not be otherwise, that's where the music ends. The trip ends suddenly. We do not know what happens next. Who really knows? These three fantasies I have interpreted in some concerts and also are part of a series of works that are published in the Japan, in the Da Vinci Publishing House. Works that are also included in the CD that the same publisher edited me at the end of 2017.

Another work that I feel satisfied with is the Octeto Séneca Op. 30, written by order of Sergio Espejo, pianist of the National Orchestra and Choirs of Spain (OCNE). A work that was premiered in the National Auditorium of Madrid by the soloists of the OCNE and published by the centenary Editorial Boileau de Barcelona (Spain). I was inspired by a phrase taken from the moral Epistles to Lucilius. "Et mors, quam pertimescimus ac recusamus, intermittit vitam, non eripit.". Once death as a source of inspiration. Once again, a text awakens in me the need to be able to express through music, everything that comes to me and I can not explain it if it is not through music. A process that on this occasion took me about a year. A year in which those words were shaping what was finally my Op. 30.

In these two cases referred to, as well as in all the works that I have written, the writing process took place locked in my studio, in low light, with a pencil and ruled paper, surrounded by hundreds of books, thousands of scores and several thousand CDs of classical music. A refuge in which music breaks the silence. A silence that needs to be heard again and again, so that music finds its way.

Khárôn, (Caronte), es un personaje que me me ha atraído desde mi juventud. Un barquero que lleva las almas de los muertos de una orilla a otra del Estigia. Siempre lo he encontrado fascinante; esa cadencia de sus remos, esa bruma que acompaña al viajero toda la travesía, las almas perdidas que encontramos en este último viaje… fascinante, realmente fascinante. De esa imagen surgieron mis tres Fantasías Khárön (Khárôn I Op. 32, Khárôn II Op. 33, Khárôn III Op. 34). Hay varios motivos que pueden oirse en las tres fantasías, a modo de motivos conductores que permiten que oigamos las tres obras como una sola. Creo que fui capaz de poner voz al viajero y sus temores, a las almas que flotan en el lago y sus angustias, incluso creo que encontré el tempo para la lenta y constante cadencia de los remos hundiéndose en esas aguas. Un ritmo pesado que permite que poco a poco avancemos hacia la otra orilla. Una obra (3 Fantasías Khárôn), que acaba cuando llegamos a la orilla, no puede ser de otra manera, ahí acaba la música. El viaje acaba súbitamente. No sabemos qué pasa después. ¿Quién lo sabe realmente?. Estas tres fantasías las he interpretado en algunos conciertos y además forman parte de una serie de obras que están publicadas en la Editorial japonesa Da Vinci. Obras que también están incluidas en el CD que la misma editorial me editó a finales de 2017.

Otra obra de la que me siento satisfecho es el Octeto Séneca Op. 30, escrita por encargo de Sergio Espejo, pianista de la Orquesta y Coros Nacionales de España (OCNE). Una obra que fue estrenada en el Auditorio Nacional de Madrid por los solistas de la OCNE y publicada por la centenaria Editorial Boileau de Barcelona (España). Me inspiré en una frase extraída de las Epístolas morales a Lucilio. “Et mors, quam pertimescimus ac recusamus, intermittit vitam, non eripit.“. Una vez la muerte como fuente de inspiración. Una vez más, un texto despierta en mi la necesidad de poder expresar a través de la música, todo aquello que llega a mí y no puedo explicarlo si no es a través de la música. Un proceso que en esta ocasión me llevo cerca de una año. Un año en el que esas palabras fueron dando forma a lo que finalmente fue mi Op. 30.

En estos dos casos referidos, así como en todas las obras que he escrito, el proceso de escribir lo llevo a cabo encerrado en mi estudio, con poca luz, con un lápiz y papel pautado, rodeado de cientos de libros, miles de partituras y varios miles de CDs de música clásica. Un refugio en el que la música rompe el silencio. Un silencio que necesita ser oído una y otra vez, para que la música encuentre el camino.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

I think the most important thing is that they have to approach music without prejudice. The same way they do when they approach a painting by Velázquez, Goya, Rembrandt, Monet ... the same thing that leads them to open the first page of a book a book by Dostoyevski, Camus, Becket ... the same thing that moves them to see a film by Bergman, Wilder, Hanecke ... They must know that they approach culture, the great creations of culture, works that are part of an immense legacy. Approaching Beethoven, Mahler, Bach, Schumann ... is something that enriches our lives and accompanies us as much as the kiss that our mother and father gave us each night when we went to bed, when we were little.

Creo que lo más importante es que han de acercarse a la música sin prejuicios. El mismo camino que hacen cuando se acercan a observar un cuadro de Velázquez, Goya, Rembrandt, Monet… lo mismo que les lleva a abrir la primera página de un libro un libro de Dostoyevski, Camus, Becket… lo mismo que les mueve para ver una película de Bergman, Wilder, Hanecke… Han de saber que se acercan a la cultura, a las grandes creaciones de la cultura, a obras que forman parte de un legado inmenso. Acercarse a Beethoven, Mahler, Bach, Schumann… es algo que enriquece nuestras vidas y nos acompaña tanto como el beso que nuestros padres nos daban cada noche al acostarnos, cuando éramos pequeños.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

No, the truth is that when I write I never think about the audience. And honestly I think it's a mistake. We do not owe it to the public, but to music. The public wants to hear the musical proposals of the composers without any concessions to them. That is at least my personal experience, when the audience talks to me after some of my concerts.

No, la verdad es que cuando compongo nunca pienso en el público. Y honestamente creo que es un error. No nos debemos al público, sino a la música. El público quiere oir las propuestas musicales de los compositores sin que hayan concesiones hacia ellos. Esa es al menos mi experiencia personal, cuando el público habla conmigo después de algunos de mis conciertos.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

After almost two years I have finished writing a Cantata about The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross. I proposed to Sergio Espejo, who commissioned me the previously mentioned Octeto Séneca Op. 30, to write a Cantata using the text that Heinrich Schütz used in his Die sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz (1645). A very intense work with which I have lived two wonderful years and which will be premiered at the National Auditorium in Madrid by the soloists of the OCNE, within the annual cycles of Satellite Concert organized by this prestigious orchestra.

Después de casi dos años he terminado de escribir una Cantata sobre Las siete últimas palabras de Cristo en la cruz. Le propuse a Sergio Espejo, quien me encargó el anteriormente mencionado Octeto Séneca Op. 30, escribir una Cantata utilizando el texto que Heinrich Schütz usó en su Die sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz (1645). Una obra muy intensa con la que he convivido dos maravillosos años y que será estrenada en el Auditorio Nacional de Madrid a cargo de los solistas de la OCNE, dentro de los ciclos anuales de Conciertos Satélites que organiza esta prestigiosa orquesta.