García Lorca c. 1904

García Lorca was born on 5 June 1898, in Fuente Vaqueros, a small town 17 km west of Granada, southern Spain. His father, Federico García Rodríguez, was a prosperous landowner with a farm in the fertile vega (valley) surrounding Granada and a comfortable villa in the heart of the city. García Rodríguez saw his fortunes rise with a boom in the sugar industry. García Lorca’s mother, Vicenta Lorca Romero, was a teacher. After Fuente Vaqueros, the family moved in 1905 to the nearby town of Valderrubio (at the time named Asquerosa). In 1909, when the boy was 11, his family moved to the regional capital of Granada, where there was the equivalent of a high school; their best known residence there is the summer home called the Huerta de San Vicente, on what were then the outskirts of the city of Granada. For the rest of his life, he maintained the importance of living close to the natural world, praising his upbringing in the country. All three of these homes—Fuente Vaqueros, Valderrubio, and Huerta de San Vicente—are today museums.

In 1915, after graduating from secondary school, García Lorca attended the University of Granada. During this time his studies included law, literature and composition. Throughout his adolescence he felt a deeper affinity for music than for literature. When he was 11 years old, he began six years of piano lessons with Antonio Segura Mesa, a harmony teacher in the local conservatory and a composer. It was Segura who inspired Federico’s dream of developing a career in music. His first artistic inspirations arose from the scores of Claude Debussy, Frédéric Chopin and Ludwig van Beethoven. Later, with his friendship with composer Manuel de Falla, Spanish folklore became his muse. García Lorca did not begin a career in writing until Segura died in 1916, and his first prose works such as “Nocturne”, “Ballade”, and “Sonata” drew on musical forms. His milieu of young intellectuals gathered in El Rinconcillo at the Café Alameda in Granada. During 1916 and 1917, García Lorca traveled throughout Castile, León, and Galicia, in northern Spain, with a professor of his university, who also encouraged him to write his first book, Impresiones y paisajes (Impressions and Landscapes—printed at his father’s expense in 1918). Fernando de los Rios persuaded García Lorca’s parents to let him move to the progressive, Oxbridge-inspired Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid in 1919, while nominally attending classes at the University of Madrid.