1898. As an external pupil of the Escuela Nacional de Música y Declamacíon, Falla passes with distinction the first three years of music theory and the first five years of the piano course. Composes the Scherzo in C minor (9 November).

1899. Concludes his official studies at the Escuela Nacional de Música y Declamación after winning, by unanimous agreement, the institution’s first prize in piano. Premieres his first works: Romanza for cello and piano (at the home of Salvador Viniegra, 14 July), Nocturno for piano, Melodía for cello and piano, Serenata andaluza for violin and piano, the Quartet in G (Salón Quirell, Cádiz, 16 August) and Mireya (Teatro Cómico, Cádiz, 10 September).

1900. Composes Canción for piano (2 April) and some other pieces for voice and for piano. Premieres Serenata andaluza and Vals-Capricho for piano (Ateneo de Madrid, 6 May). Owing to his family’s precarious financial situation, he begins to give piano lessons. His first attempts at zarzuela, which include La Juana y la Petra o La casa de tócame Roque, date from this period.

1901. First comes into contact with Felipe Pedrell. Composes Cortejo de gnomos (4 March) and Serenata (2 April), both for piano. At the same time, he works on the zarzuelas Los amores de Inés and Limosna de amor.

1902. Los amores de la Inés is premiered at the Teatro Cómico in Madrid (12 April). Meets Joaquín Turina. Vals-Capricho and Serenata andaluza are published by the Society of Authors.

1903. Composes the Allegro de concierto and submits it to a competition organised by the Madrid Conservatoire and eventually won by Enrique Granados. The Society of Authors publishes Tus ojillos negros and Nocturno. Begins to collaborate with Amadeo Vives on three zarzuelas of which only fragments survive: Prisionero de guerra, El cornetín de órdenes and La cruz de Malta.

1904. The Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando announces a competition for a new “Spanish opera in one act”. Falla decides to enter and begins to work on La vida breve with Carlos Fernández Shaw. Although he has never been there, Falla decides to set the opera in Granada, and he asks his friend Antonio Arango for information about the city. The Cantares de Nochebuena date from this period.

1905. In April he wins a piano competition organised by the Ortiz y Cussó company. Premieres his Allegro de concierto at the Ateneo in Madrid (15 May). On 13 November the Academia de Bellas Artes awards its prize to La vida breve.

1906. Unsuccessful attempts to have La vida breve staged. Begins work on the Pièces espagnoles.

1907. (Madrid. Paris). Encouraged by Joaquín Turina, he decides to move to Paris, where he will remain until the summer of 1914. Travels around France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany as pianist to a touring theatre company performing André Wormser’s L’Enfant prodigue. Meets Paul Dukas and Claude Debussy, his principal mentors during this period. Also meets Isaac Albéniz, Maurice Ravel, Roland-Manuel, Florent Schmitt, Ricardo Viñes, et al.