Unravelling the lives of surprising women throughout Catalonia's history

Cava, not champagne? (Sala, 4)

Originally cava is a natural sparkling wine produced in the region Champagne (France) from the 18th century onwards. However, the name Champagne is legally protected since the Madrid Agreement for the International Registration of Marks was concluded in 1891, which reserved it for the sparkling wine made in the French region.

So sparkling wines made with the same method, champenoise, had to use another name. In Catalonia this became cava and as a ‘new’ product it aroused interest in the first half of the 20th century.

The loss of red grape vines due to the phylloxera epidemic moved Dolors Sala to use white Catalan indigenous grapes for her cava’s instead. Generally a blend of three varieties is used: macabeu, parellada and xarel·lo, the Penedès classics. The percentage of each grape changes every year according to its quality and the taste.

Continue reading “Cava, not champagne? (Sala, 4)”

Who is she? (Ginestà, 1)

For quite some time the photo Falling Soldier, allegedly taken by Robert Capa in 1936, has been the emblematic picture of the Spanish Civil War. The authenticity debate about the question if this photo is genuine or not, is still going on.

But there is another iconic picture taken in the same year, in this case of a confident young girl looking defiantly into the camera. She is clearly standing on top of a roof. Who is she, where is she standing and what is the context of the photo?


In 2006 an archivist of the Agencia EFE, a Spanish international news agency, discovered her identity. Soon I will reveal the results of his research in a new series. Stay tuned!

Into exile (Badia, 10)

Paris, Conxita’s new home, is the starting point of many concerts all over Europe where critics are unanimous in praising her skills. But when on this continent another war is starting, Conxita accepts the proposal of some South American managers and goes into exile a second time, first in Brazil, later in Argentina.

There she finds a colony of refugees from her home country and befriends many important cultural figures, like philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, poet Rafael Alberti and actress Margarida Xirgu.

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Pau Casals to Conxita Badia (Badia, 9)

All the music I have written for soprano, I have written thinking of you. So everything belongs to you.

Cultural heydays in Barcelona (Badia, 8)

Throughout the first decades of the 20th century Barcelona and Catalonia enjoy a rich cultural life in all kinds of disciplines. For example, painter Salvador Dalí causes a sensation when he exhibits his works in the capital, and poet and playwright Federico García Lorca opens his play Mariana Pineda, with stage settings by Dalí, to great acclaim in Barcelona in 1927.

The buzzing region also attracts musicians and composers from other parts of Spain who feel inspired by its creative possibilities. Conxita and the rest of the Catalan artistic world enthusiastically welcome composer Manuel de Falla; for the singer this is the beginning of a very productive relationship which will last till De Falla’s death.

From left to right: Conxita Badia, composer Manuel de Falla, pianist Frank Marshall (November 1926)

Continue reading “Cultural heydays in Barcelona (Badia, 8)”

Surviving the phylloxera (Sala, 3)

Casa Sala at the beginning of the 20th century

Around 1927 Dolors and Pere set up their wine cellars in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, a village in the heart of the Penedès, opposite the main train station. This region was already famous for the quality of the wines produced there since the era of the Roman Empire. But when the couple starts their business the circumstances of the wine growing trade are adverse. Continue reading “Surviving the phylloxera (Sala, 3)”

The beginnings of Freixenet (Sala, 2)

Dolors Sala and her husband Pere Ferrer

When Dolors Sala Vivé and her husband Pere Ferrer Bosch found the company of sparkling wines in 1914 shortly after their marriage, she knows what she is talking about. Dolors is the daughter and granddaughter of specialists in still wines of the old Casa Sala established in 1861 by Francesc Sala Ferrés, her grandfather. Continue reading “The beginnings of Freixenet (Sala, 2)”

Hotel Manila, Barcelona (Badia, 7)

le-meridienWhen Conxita Badia takes part in the hommage to Enric Granados in 1966, Hotel Manila by then is a luxury hotel, which venue after the concert becomes the cultural reference of the Catalan capital. The site itself has a rich history. Continue reading “Hotel Manila, Barcelona (Badia, 7)”

The tragic ending of a fruitful cooperation (Badia, 6)

Over the years Conxita Badia and Enric Granados stay in close contact, for him she is almost like a daughter. He accompanies her on the piano during her concerts all over Spain, where Conxita also interprets his songs, like the Canciones Amatorias, two of which he dedicates to her, and the Tonadillas. She is his ‘vocal instrument’ and each time he wants her to sing his songs he sends her the message Vine tu i les cançons (Come, you and your songs).

Enric Granados

Continue reading “The tragic ending of a fruitful cooperation (Badia, 6)”

Conxita Badia sings Enric Granados (Badia, 5)

Interpreting Tonadillas and Canciones Amatorias. Two of the latter songs were dedicated to Conxita by the composer; she sung them for the first time in 1913 in the Sala Granados.

Photo: Recording the LP “Homenaje a Granados” with pianist Alícia de Larrocha and impresario Oriol Martorell.

Her first music teacher (Badia, 4)

Conxita is born in Barcelona on 14 November 1897 in a middle class family. From an early age she gets singing lessons from a local teacher who is the first to recognize her talent. Soon he recommends her parents to take her to the Acadèmia Granados where she meets the pianist and composer Enrique Granados who is immediately impressed when he hears the 7-year old girl singing during her solfège classes.  Continue reading “Her first music teacher (Badia, 4)”

The Freixenet story (Sala, 1)

Freixenet, now world leader in the cava sector, would never have occupied this position without the input and talent of Dolors Sala. She was the critical success factor from the foundation of the company right till her death. Freixenet’s story is Dolors’ story. Coming up shortly.

All the events took place in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (region of Alt Penedès) the cava capital of Catalonia, where you can indulge in any kind of activity relating to this sparkling drink.

Bike tour around Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Composer’s quote (Badia, 3)

For Conxita, who guesses what the musician has thought and even what he has not thought.

Juan José Castro, Argentine composer, dedicated to Conxita Badia the songs Romance de la luna, luna and La casada infiel by Federico García Lorca that he had set to music.

The documentary (Badia, 2)


Photo taken in 1934

So what did I learn from the documentary about Conxita Badia? In the interviews experts and people who have known her explain that she was the perfect lied singer and an inspiration for many composers and musicians. In fact, quite a number of them seems to owe their fame to her.

Continue reading “The documentary (Badia, 2)”

The invisible singer (Badia, 1)

A couple of days ago I read the review of documentary that got me curious. Its title was enticing: Conxita Badia no existeix (Conxita Badia does not exist). The name did ring a bell, but was I remembering someone who did not exist?

Conxita Badia in Argentina (1939)

Continue reading “The invisible singer (Badia, 1)”

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