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Lluís Millet (Choral Conductor, Composer)

Born: April 18, 1867 - El Masnou (Maresme), near Barcelona, Spain
Died: December 7, 1941 - Barcelona, Spain

The Spanish composer and choral conductor, Lluís [Llluys] Millet i Pagès, was born in El Masnou (Maresme) near Barcelona. Being child, his family went to Barcelona because the insecurity caused by the third Carlist war (1872-1875).. The family wanted that Lluís would become merchant, but his musical vocation was imposed, entering to the early age of 13 (1880) in the Conservatory of the Liceu of Barcelona (The Opera theatre of the city). In this institution he studied with Miquel Font (piano) and Josep Rodoreda (harmony and composition) and further on he was also disciple of Felip Pedrell with whom he studied composition and again piano with Carles G. Vidiella.

Very quick Lluís Millet oriented his activity toward the choir song and very young - at 17 years of age - (1883), he was already conductor of the Chorus the "La Lira de Sant Cugat del Vallès", complementing this work with daily interpretations in the Cafè Inglés of Barcelona, first as pianist and later as member of a trio with Josep Badia (violin), Lluís Pamies (harmonium) and himself at the piano. A year late he changed to the Cafè Pelayo, where he played the piano in a quartet formed by Ernesto Cioffi (violin), Josep Soler (violoncello), Lluís Pamies (harmonium). These initial activities were the origin of his basic group of friends: Alió, Vidiella, Albéniz i Vives and with his colleagues of the Cafe Pelayo, he would found the Orfeó Català. The Cafe Pelayo, as the "Els quatre gats" (other cafe with an active promotion of Art Nouveau ideas), was a very active intellectual meeting place, grouping a lot of famous artists of that time as: Àngel Guimerà, Pere Aldavert, Narcís Oller, Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Emili Vilanova, Carles Pirozzini, Serafí Pitarra, Josep Feliu i Codina, Joaquim Rubió i Ors and others.

At his twenties, Lluís Millet had two basic interests, to got a solid musical training and the practice of his musical knowledge. His vocation was developed simultaneously with the strong Catalanist impulse, together with the Art Nouveau development into the Catalonian culture. In 1891, at age 24, he created jointly with Amadeu Vives the Orfeó Català, a mixed choir, to which he would dedicate his life and that was an important center of Catalan music. He elevated this choir to the maximum level as interpreter and as institution, premiering and interpreting a huge quantity of choirs works of any type..

In 1896 Lluís Millet was appointed professor of music, musical theory and vocal ensemble of the Escola Municipal de Música de Barcelona (Music Municipal School of Barcelona). The next year, 1897, he created the "Capella de Sant Felip Neri" (Saint Philip Neri Chapel) in Barcelona of which he was named conductor.

In 1904 Lluís Millet created the the Revista Musical Catalana - Butlletí de l'Orfeó Català (Catalan musical magazine - Orfeó Català Bulletin), published until 1936, with a total of 390 numbers. That date represents a break for the Catalan culture, duly to the Spanish civil war and the political subsequent circumstances, prosecuted for a long time. The publication of that magazine would not be restarted until 1984.

Other activity actively promoted by Lluís Millet were the "Festes de la Música Catalana" (Catalan Music Festivals), started in 1904, with a total of nine festivals, until the year 1921. These festivals contributed some two thousand melodies of songs and popular dances, at the same time some artists were rewarded as: Felip Pedrell (1904 and 1905), Antoni Nicolau (1906, 1907 and 1916), Claudi Martinez Imbert (1910), Joan Manent (1914), Lluís Romeu (1916) and Kurt Schindler (1921).

Although his work as composer is not very dilated, it is composed by a considerable quantity of pieces, compositions or harmonisations of popular songs, - many of which choirs - that have been popularized extraordinarily and nowadays are part of the popular Catalan music. Lluís Millet is considered a sensitive and original composer, especially of choral music. Among his compostions: Catalanesques, for piano; Eclogue, for piano and orchestra; El cant dels ocells (Birdsong), for choir; Cant de la Senyera, for choir; Pregària a la Verge del Remei, for choir.

Another very important aspect of his work, is the impulse that he gave to the religious popular song and the revaluation of the XVI century sacred polyphony. Lluís Millet is an example of musical nationalism, evident in works as El Cant de la Senyera (The song in homage of the Catalonian national flag). He is considered a brilliant representative of the Musical Modernisme (Art Nouveau). His enthusiasm by this style is manifested in his election of Lluís Domènech i Montaner as a architect to build the Palau de la Música Catalana, the Orfeó Català Music hall, building benedicted by the Cardinal Casañas on February 9, 1908, with a musical program showing the Millet ideology and including:
- El Cant de la Senyera (The Senyera -Catalan flag- song), as a representation of the identity.
- Els Xiquets de Valls by Clavé, as a representation of the origins.
- La Mare de Déu (The mother of God) of Nicolau, representing the present (1908).
- The Alleluia by George Frideric Handel, representing the universality.
- Els Segadors (The Catalan hymn), as an element of national reaffirmation.

Lluís Millet was also the author of various writings on musical themes as articles in the Revista Musical Catalana, El cant popular religiós (The religious popular song - 1912), De la cançó popular catalana (On the popular Catalan song - 1917). His basic literary production was compiled the year 1917 in a book titled Pel nostre ideal (For our ideal).

Lluís Millet died on December 7, 1941 at age 74. In Catalonia there are streets and schools by his name, as the street of Carrer Mestre Lluís Mitllet in Badalona.


Instrumental Music:
Catalanesques (impressions - orchestral version, 1891)
Catalanesques (impressions - piano version, 1891)
Ègloga (orchestral version)
Ègloga (string quartet)

Choral Music:
Various works for chorus (specially):
Jovenívola (for mixed chorus)
El Cant de la Senyera (The song of the Catalan national flag), on a poem by J. Maragall, 1896)
Cap al tard (To the evening)
Six harmonisations of popular melodies (specially):
El cant dels ocells (The song of birds)
La dama d'Aragó (The lady of Aragó)
Els Segadors (The national Catalan hymn)

Religious Music:
Canticum amoris (motet)
Pregaria de la Verge del Remei (Pray for the Remei virgin - for choir orchestra and organ, 1900)
Salve Regina Cataloniae (motet for choir and organ, 1913)
Cants espirituals per a ús del poble (Spiritual songs for people use - 1st series 21 songs, 1915)
Cants espirituals per a ús del poble (Spiritual songs for people use - 2nd series 15 songs, 1921)

Voice & piano:
14 Cançons (Songs - specially):
Sempreviva (Houseleek - text by A. Guimerà)
Flor de lliri rosa (Flower of rose lily)
La Balalí (The Balalí)
Sospirs (Sighs - text by J. Verdaguer)

Source: Gaudí and Art Nouveau in Catalonia Website; Spanish Wikipedia Website (January 2011), English translation by Aryeh Oron (April 2011)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2011)

Lluis Millet: Short Biography | Orfeó Catalá de Barcelona | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Lluís Millet Pages (Gaudí and Art Nouveau in Catalonia)
Lluís Millet i Pagès (Música i) [Spanish]

Lluís Millet (Wikipedia) [Spanish]

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