I wrote my Granaína "Elegía" in memory of my Tio Manolo - Manuel de la Escalera Narezo, a man who lived an extraordinary life despite being one of thousands who were imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Franco regime during the Spanish civl war (spoiler: he wasn’t executed). A painter, sculptor and cinemaphile before the war, Manolo became a translator and writer in prison. He continued his literary life almost to the end. He was 98 years old when he died. The story of his imprisonment and exile breaks my heart, but really his life story is uplifting - that he was able to create so much despite a life so often disrupted.
I often think of how different the world must have seemed to him when he left prison, and when he finally returned to Spain. I didn’t really know what I was writing when I started, but there was a sadness in the music that brought me back to Manolo’s story, and the two became intertwined in me. He never heard the piece, of course - in fact the last time I saw him was on my first trip to Spain to study flamenco in 1989. I hope it inspires a few people to learn about this extraordinary man.