Unravelling the lives of surprising women throughout Catalonia's history

Which period are you interested in?

There are a lot of surprising women throughout Catalonia’s history whose story is waiting to be told. Therefore I would like to know if there is a particular period that you are interested in. In that case I could give those stories preference. So please let me know. Thank you!

In search of the girl (Ginestà, 2)


It was in 2006 that Julio García Bilbao, documentalist of the Spanish international news agency EFE, decided to start a research in order to find out who the smiling girl with a gun captured by Juan Guzmán was.

He already had a lot of information about this German-Mexican photographer. First that his original name was Hans Gutmann Guster and that he fled from his native country in 1936 because of the rise of nazism. He arrived in Barcelona planning to cover the People’s Olympiad that would take place there in July.

The whole project fell through due to the Civil War that broke out in the city on the 18th of that month. Instead of capturing sportsmen Juan photographed soldiers and activists; he even joined the Republican Army to fight against the Nationalists and obtained the rank of Captain.
Continue reading “In search of the girl (Ginestà, 2)”

Homages to Dolors Sala (Sala, 9)

Honoring Dolors Sala as the origin of Freixenet, her successors created Cuvée D.S., a cava nature reserve that bears her initials. It is made from grapes of vineyards from the Pla del Penedès and Mediona, Dolors’ favorites.

freixenet_ds-800x1670In line with her high standards, it is produced from the best harvests following a scrupulous production process. According to Freixenet, ‘A classic of classics, a well-aged cava, both a Gran Reserva and Brut, with a dosage containing 4 g/l of sugar and wine previously aged in chestnut barrels.’

In the newer part of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia an alleyway is named after Dolors, the ‘Passatge de Dolors Sala’. The inhabitants of the passageway were all employees of Freixenet and in this way wanted to honor her memory. Continue reading “Homages to Dolors Sala (Sala, 9)”

Taking leave (Badia, 18)

Apart from being a gifted performer, Conxita was an inspiring teacher. Music students from all over the world came to Barcelona just for her. Among them was the Catalan Montserrat Caballé who became a singer whose talent is recognized worldwide. Conxita also travelled around Europe and the America’s to give singing lessons, for example the summer courses in the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the prestigious yearly courses in Santiago de Compostela.

Conxita Badia and her student Montserrat Caballé

Continue reading “Taking leave (Badia, 18)”

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (Sala, 8)

The origins of Sant Sadurní d´Anoia can be traced back to the old parish of Sant Sadurní de Subirats, which ultimately obtained municipal independence in 1764 and became a town. It was then that it adopted its actual name after the Anoia River, which crosses the central part of town’s territory. At that time, the main livelihood of the population consisted in the cultivation of vineyards and the production of wine. Thanks to the position of the town and the availability of land suitable for growing vineyards, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia was able to develop and prosper in this agricultural sector during most of the 1800´s, ultimately reaching its most successful period.5601ca8c6719e Continue reading “Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (Sala, 8)”

Montserrat Caballé about Conxita Badia (Badia, 17)

She was unique, unique, all the monuments they could create for her would be too few and if I should be good enough as to leave a mark, the one that I had to leave would be hers.

Jardí dels Tarongers (Badia, 16)


This ‘Garden of the Orange Trees’ in the Barcelona quarter of Pedralbes was the former residence of the industrialist and music sponsor Josep Bartomeu i Granell, who bought the property in 1942.

In its rooms and gardens he organized recitals of chamber music and concerts of choirs and orchestras, granting young musicians the opportunity to build an audience. Montserrat Caballé gave her first performance in the house that became a centre of intensive artistic activities. The daring programming, the perfect acoustics of the rooms and the ambiance of the gardens attracted an ever growing circle of enthusiasts.

After having been closed for several years, the building has been restored to its former glory and is now the seat of the Consell Català de la Música that strives to recreate the centre according to Bartomeu’s ideas giving a platform to new generations of musicians as well as composers.

Conxita’s later years (Badia, 15)

Over the years Conxita takes part in all the important cultural events in the whole country, like the concerts in the ‘Jardí dels Tarongers’ in Pedralbes (Barcelona).

Some of the memorable moments are the first performance in 1956 of Doce canciones españolas composed by Joaquín Rodrigo who also accompanies her on the piano, and the hommage to Enric Granados in 1966 in the luxury Hotel Manila, which venue then becomes the cultural reference of the Catalan capital. Other famous pianists are also eager to play during her concerts, such as her great friend Alícia de Larrocha.

Continue reading “Conxita’s later years (Badia, 15)”

Reconstructing the business (Sala, 7)

Sadly the Spanish Civil War cuts short the happy family life of Dolors and Pere as well as the development of the company of sparkling wines. In 1936, at the beginning of the war, Dolors’ husband is shot by an anarchist faction and Joan, their eldest son, also disappears. The hostilities destroy great part of the business of senyor Pere and senyora Dolors, as they were called by their employees. Continue reading “Reconstructing the business (Sala, 7)”

Palau de la Música Catalana (Badia, 14)

Concert hall

When in October 1904 the Orfeó Català, a choral society founded in 1891, was in need of a concert hall,  modernista architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner to realize this project. At that time he was already a renown figure, not only due to his profession (he had designed the present building of the Fundació Tàpies), but also because of his commitment to Catalanism at the end of the 19th century. In February 1908 the Palau de la Música Catalana opened its doors to the general public.

Continue reading “Palau de la Música Catalana (Badia, 14)”

Vintage photos (Sala, 6)

Return to Catalonia (Badia, 13)

In spite of the huge success in South America, Conxita decides to return to Catalonia in 1946, not in the least because she fears that her daughters will loose contact with their roots. She leaves behind a mourning public and critics who have praised and admired her during her stay.

When she has to say farewell to her teacher and regular accompanist on the piano Manuel de Falla, she passes through some difficult moments. His parting words are Goodbye, Conxita. Till we meet again. And if not, till eternity. Two days after Conxita’s sailing he dies.


Continue reading “Return to Catalonia (Badia, 13)”

A woman with a vision (Sala, 5)


Right from the start Dolors and Pere are a winning team. He is the commercial genius who designs new marketing strategies and travels all over the world to sell their products.

His success in this field is greatly due to Dolors who not only manages the technical part of the production process of their wines, but also has highly developed tasting skills helping her to produce great new cava‘s. As a wine expert avant la lettre she knows how to obtain the best assemblages, and especially those of the brut type.

In 1930 she is the first cavista to put on the market a Catalan brut reserva, the Brut Vintage. It is the beginning of a quickly expanding business in cava bearing the brandname Freixenet Casa Sala. Continue reading “A woman with a vision (Sala, 5)”

Conxita Badia interprets Frederic Mompou (Badia, 12)

Conxita Badia sings the poem Damunt de tu, només les flors, written and composed by Frederic Mompou who also accompanies her on the piano.

This concert took place in the gardens of the Villa-Museum Pau Casals, in El Vendrell (Baix Penedès region), where she used to sing every summer accompanied by Pau Casals till the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936.

Click here for an English translation of the poem.

Frederic Mompou about Conxita’s voice (Badia, 11)

Unmistakable voice with an expression so full of emotion, but always natural and sincere which makes of Conxita Badia – ‘voice of our songs’ – an ideal interpreter of my songs.

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