VICENTE ASENCIO (1908 - 1979)
Vicente Asencio, born in the city of Valencia in southeast Spain, studied in Barcelona with the great pianist Frank Marshall, before moving to Paris, where his mentors were Turina and Halffter. Asencio composed numerous orchestral works and ballets but was particularly attracted to guitar music, his pieces being performed by a variety of leading recitalists including Segovia and Yepes. He also became a much admired teacher, founding the Castellón de la Plana Conservatory. For many years he was a professor of Harmony and Composition at the Conservatorio Superior de Musica in Valencia. He was married to composer Matilde Salvador.
His life overlapped those of both the new-wave romantic and the avant-garde Spanish composers, but he did not quite fit into either category. In 1934 Asencio participated in a movement by Valencian composers known as the Grupo de los Jóvenes (Youth Group) to produce a manifesto of artistic ideals: We aspire to the realisation of a vigorous and rich Valencian musical art in the existence of a fertile and pluralist Valencian School which brings psychological subtlety and the emotion of our people and landscape to universal music. He rejected atonality as ‘uninteresting’ and though he declared himself to be a ‘tonal’ composer his was not the cloudless tonality of, for instance, Granados or Albéniz. Although his music often expressed uncomplicated and ebullient joy, it perhaps more often reflected his quiet, reflective and devout character; he described himself as ‘un intimiste’.