Juan José Falcón Sanabria

From Unearthing The Music

Falcón Sanabria being awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 2006. Photo by Wikipedia user Puccinella

Juan José Falcón Sanabria (born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, February 11, 1936 - died in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, June 23, 2015) was a Spanish conductor and composer.[1]

Biography and work

The son of a musician father who played the clarinet in local bands, Juan José Falcón Sanabria was born in Las Palmas in 1936.

His work demonstrates a wide variety of styles and ideas, placing less emphasisis on technique and instead on translating his emotional world into sound with an approach based on intuition. His Canarian milieu was a constant influence in his work, as was a theme of contact with nature. His music is more melodic than that of his contemporaries, such as Juan Hidalgo or Carlos Cruz de Castro, both also of Canarian origin.

The twelve tone technique is often applied in his work, which he describes as "the grouping in sections of the twelve sounds forming different sounds in different themes". Falcón takes advantage of the twelve-tone system to superimpose sounds that would repel each other in the tonal system.

Sound is a basic pillar in Falcon's work. The composer starts from a sensation to elaborate the entire musical work, and carries it out through the transformation, juxtaposition and manipulation of the “sound objects”, as structural sequences. These “sound objects” are acoustic sensations, defined thematic elements, characterized mainly by their sound. In this way each theme has a defined personality that is combined or transformed, in a certain Wagnerian sense. For this reason, the perception of double sounds is frequent, raised through the resources of polytonality and poliseriality, related to Falcón's admiration for Dalí's work and the use of double images.

Falcón Sanabria conducted the Coral Polifónica de Las Palmas and Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria.


In his book "Falcón Sanabria. Composer" García-Alcalde distinguishes three stages in Falcón Sanabria's production: the first would comprise the years between 1959 and 1971, characterized by a traditional writing and language.

Around 1972 there was a “conscious break” that would begin a new stage of experimentation in the new languages ​​of the second half of the 20th century. In this period there was a strengthening of personal traits.

From 1982 to his death, there was a “full consciousness and progressive development of language”. In 1984 the meeting with Francisco Guerrero facilitated the introduction of Falcón into structuralism and the use of computing, bringing to light some approaches that were already in his creative thinking: rhythmic serializations and the incidence of tension accumulations in rhythm, as well as the use of proportions temporal aureas and the study of combinatorics. In recent years, devoted almost entirely to compositional activity, he strove to realize the project of making an opera, while acting as a constant stimulus to the musical activity of the islands. As a professor, director of the Music Classroom of the Polytechnic University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and director of the Polyphonic Choir of Las Palmas, nature and sound continued to take shape in the staves of this musician for whom "everything has a soul".


  • Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts (1998)
  • Favorite Son of the City of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (1998)
  • Can de Plata of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria (2001)
  • Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (2006)
  • Daniel Montorio Award from the General Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE) (2007)


  1. Belén Pérez Castillo, Julio C. Arce Bueno Juan José Falcón Sanabria 1997 pp70

Text translated and adapted from the Spanish Wikipedia