Within the complex of buildings, ancient and modern, that constitute the Alhambra in Granada lies an old Arab bathhouse, dating from the beginning of the 14th century; and within that lies the site of the former tavern El Polinario, which during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a meeting-point for people in the city’s artistic circles. There Antonio Barrios, himself known as ‘El Polinario’, played his flamenco guitar, and his son, Angel Barrios Fernandez, was born in 1882. Angel Barrios went on to a musical career, studying in Paris, where he was a friend of Albeniz, Granados, Falla and Ravel, later establishing a Trio Iberia (guitar, lute and bandurria, for which he adapted a large Spanish repertory) and touring Europe with it. He divided his time between Granada – where in the late 1920s he was professor at the university and musical head of the Centro Artistico, and during the Civil War director of the Banda Municipal and the Falange symphony orchestra – and Madrid, and after his father’s death in 1939 he settled in the capital, enjoying modest success as a theatre composer. He died there in 1964.


When Barrios left Granada, he gave the house to the Patronato del Alhambra, and when in 1939 the Arab baths were restored it was demolished. But the tavern site was adapted to take a house museum, and in 1977 the Casa Museo Barrios opened there. Barrios’s daughter Angela, goddaughter of Falla and his sister, had presented the city with the entire art collection from the former tavern as well as much documentary and photographic material, an archive and several musical instruments. There are three display rooms with objects pertaining to Barrios and his family, including his own piano and guitar, various items of furniture and many photographs and documents. But what makes this composer museum unlike any other is the presence of an art collection of high quality, much of it contributed originally to El Polinario by the artists themselves, including Santiago Rusinol and Manuel Angeles Ortiz.

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