In this section, I am going to expose some of the composers, aesthetic movements or elements that influenced Mompou. It is difficult to make absolute assertions in this section since composers are always the product of their musical heritage and all that has happened in musical history which has influenced them to a greater or lesser extent. For this reason, I will draw parallels with the most direct sources of inspiration for Mompou without underestimating his originality.
Mompou believed in a return in music, a starting over. This essentially involves taking practices from the past and remodeling them into a new perspective on composing.
For example, he adopted organum from the Middle ages1, and he imbued all his production with intervals of fourths and fifths. Back in the 9th century the perfect fourth and its inversion, the perfect fifth, were seen as consonant intervals, just like the octave. However, from a modern perspective, the perfect fourth is ambiguous: depending on its resolution it is either considerate consonant or dissonant.
Mompou was so fascinated by ambiguous harmonies that since the beginning of his career as a composer he created his own archetype chord, one which he referred to as the "metallic chord"2. What characterized it was the integration of dissonance into consonance3.
Another element that is partly present in Mompou's music is the Gregorian chants, especially their monody and simple rhythm. An example of this can be found in the opening of the second movement of Cants Màgics, "Obscur".
Mompou's most recurrent form in his production is the simple ternary form (A, B, A) wherein B is not a development, but only a contrasting section. This was very common among the French virginalists of the 17th century like Dandrieu, Couperin, Rameau... Additionally, Dominico Scarlatti's famous sonatas were also written in this form.
Mompou always felt an affinity towards the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, the poet of the piano. Even if their composing style were quite different they both shared the same sense of lyricism in music.
Mompou made several references to Chopin in various compositions. Examples can be found in his Variations on a Theme by Chopin (inspired by Chopin's Prélude nr. 7 Op. 28 and Impromptu-Fantaisie Op. 66) and "Lent-Plaintif" from Música Callada (paying hommage to Chopin's Prélude nr. 4 Op. 28).
- French composers of the 19th-20th century: Ravel, Debussy, Satie.
Mompou followed his studies in Paris, where he then lived for over twenty years of his life. Despite his shyness, he had contact with contemporary French composers of the day who inevitably influenced him. He also admired some of the most important French composers of the time such as Debussy and Fauré. The latter composer he shared an affinity for impressionistic sound-colours placed over a static background. For instance, when Mompou was once interviewed he responded to being called "the Spanish Debussy" by saying:
"Yes. But still I never composed like Debussy. Debussy created his own world - delicate work, a lot of pastel colors. I did the same. Debussy was attracted by ambiance. Debussy composed for two persons, not three. I compose only for one. I don't want to compose for great concert halls or for the virtuosity"4.
Mompou experienced childhood in a very positive way. As an adult, he always had melancholic memories about his first stage of life, full of games and songs that inspired his music. A similar case is the one of Ravel, whose fascination with the world of childhood was clearly seen in his compositions: Ma mère l'Oye, cinq pièces enfantines (1910), L'Enfant et les sortilèges (1919-1925), Jeux d'eau (1901), Pavane pour une infante défunte (1899).
Mompou remained always very close to his origins. He was a fond Catalan who actively protected and honoured his traditional culture. Indeed, many of his melodic lines reflect the influence of Catalan folk tunes, with respect to their two- or four bar-form.