Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, recorded and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2003 and 2007 by Compact Discoveries, Inc.
Program 50

"Joaquín Nin"

MUSIC: all music in this program is by Joaquín Nin and is played on the piano by Thomas Tirino from the KOCH International Classics compact disc of Nin's Complete Works for Solo Piano [KOCH 3-7516-2, track 17] under the following:

Welcome to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. The next hour will be devoted completely to a single compact discovery: the piano music of Joaquín Nin. The music is performed by Thomas Tirino on a KOCH International Classics compact disc.

MUSIC: fades out

But who on earth, you might well ask, was Joaquín Nin? Well, he was a Cuban pianist and composer who was born in Havana in 1879 and died there in 1949. In between he spent most of his time in Spain and France, where he became more infamous as a Don Juan than famous as a composer. He was the father of the equally obscure composer Joaquín Nin-Culmell, and he was also the father of the equally infamous writer Anaïs Nin, who wrote in her diary that she and he had had an incestuous relationship with her father.

More about Joaquín Nin's scandalous life as we go along. But first, let's hear one of his piano pieces: Iberian Dance. According to the program notes by Thomas Tirino which accompanies the CD, this is one of Nin's earliest works. It is "an exuberant, whirling dance" that was inspired in Paris by performances of one of Spain's greatest flamenco dancers of the time. Nin dedicated this work to her.

MUSIC: Nin Danza Ibérica [track 1] [8:18]

Joaquín Nin's Iberian Dance. The pianist was Thomas Tirino.

Nin displayed such remarkable pianistic skills at a young age that he was taken from Cuba to Spain to study in Barcelona. By 1902 he moved to Paris, studying piano with Moritz Moszkowski and composition with Vincent d'Indy at the Schola Cantorum. He did so well there as a student that he soon became a teacher at this prestigious music school, and he remained there until 1908.

More piano music by Joaquín Nin now as Thomas Tirino plays his Lullaby for the Orphans of Spain. Tirino calls this piece "a haunting, tender lullaby in rondo form, tinged with a touch of melancholy, very French in its feel, and reminiscent of Fauré."

MUSIC: Nin: Cano de cuna para los Huérfanos de España, [track 2] [5:40]

Joaquín Nin's Lullaby for the Orphans of Spain as performed by pianist Thomas Tirino.

The music of Joaquín Nin is the theme for this hour of Compact Discoveries.

Nin's career as a virtuoso pianist took him to Europe and South America, as well as to his native Cuba in 1910, in order to form a concert society there. According to Craig Zeichner's essay which is included with the program notes for this CD, Nin's career reached its peak in the 1920s and '30s when he was in great demand as a recitalist. He was also a respected writer on musical subjects. At the start of World War II, he returned to Havana, where he lived until his death in 1949.

Thomas Tirino writes that the first of Nin's Three Spanish Dances, which we shall hear next, captures the very essence of Spain with its quotation of the Andalucian folk song "El Vito," its driving rhythm, fiery flamenco accents and strumming guitar effects.

MUSIC: Nin: Tres Danzas Españolas, Thomas Tirino, piano, tracks 3, 4 and 5] [15:31]

Joaquín Nin's Three Spanish Dances as performed by pianist Thomas Tirino on a KOCH International Classics compact disc.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and this hour is devoted to the music of Joaquín Nin.

[optional one-minute break not included in 58:00 total timing]

Craig Zeichner writes that Joaquín Nin was a colorful and controversial character, whose aristocratic bearing won him a place in the highest levels of society. Nin's scandal-plagued personal life shocked a generation with his two divorces and a supposedly incestuous relationship with his daughter, the writer Anaïs Nin. His tempestuous all-too-public private life eclipsed his music, which Zeichner thinks is unfortunate, because his music boasts a melodic charm, rhythmic vitality, and folksy warmth. "A traditional classic Spanish flavor spices much of Nin's pieces, and it is combined with touches of French impressionism and dissonances which heighten tension."

There is more than a touch of French impressionism in the next work we'll hear, Nin's Message to Claude Debussy.

MUSIC: Nin: Mensaje a Claudio Debussy, track 16] [6:50]

Joaquín Nin's Message to Claude Debussy, as performed by pianist Thomas Tirino.

Tirino writes of this next piece, "1830" Variations on a Frivolous Theme, that it is not surprising that Nin, a lover of old music, would be drawn to a classic theme with variations. The opening theme echoes the melancholy spirit of a Russian folk melody. It is worked through in true 19th-century style with a series of nine variations that balance wit and virtuosity in a way similar to

Schumann. The piece is different from Nin's other Spanish-inspired works in that it is not based on traditional Spanish harmonic language, form, or style.

MUSIC: Nin: "1830" Variacinones sobre una tema frivolo [tracks 6 - 15] [12:08]

Joaquín Nin's "1830" Variations on a Frivolous Theme performed by pianist Thomas Tirino.

Thomas Tirino likes to discover unjustly neglected composers, particularly if they are from Latin America. Perhaps he has a Latin-American gene in his body, since his father is from Argentina. He has recorded five CDs of music for solo piano and piano and orchestra by the Cuban composer, Ernesto Lecuona; the CD we are featuring today of the piano music of Joaquín Nin; and a compact disc of piano music by the Brazilian composer, Ernesto Nazareth.

Thomas Tirino has appeared as a recitalist and with orchestras in both standard classical and Latin American piano music in the major cities of the United States, Europe and Asia. He has performed in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Minsk, Tokyo, Boston, and many times at the Lincoln Center in New York City, where he lives.

In a moment he'll conclude this hour with the final movement from Joaquín Nin's Chain of Waltzes - a piece based on one of Spain's national dances, the jota.

You have been listening to Compact Discoveries and the piano music of Joaquín Nin. My thanks to Thomas Tirino for his program notes as well as his piano playing. I also used information from a short essay by Craig Zeichner and a short article about Nin from the online Grove's New Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The compact disc was supplied by KOCH International.

I hope you have enjoyed this program. My name is Fred Flaxman, and you can reach me in care of this station or through my website:

Compact Discoveries is a production of Compact Discoveries, Incorporated, and is a presentation of WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, Florida.

MUSIC: Nin: Cadena de Valses [track 29] ending at 57:15

ANNOUNCER: This program was made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts - a great nation deserves great art; and by the Public Radio Exchange Reversioning Project. The Public Radio Exchange is at


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