Born in Camprodon, Catalonia, Albéniz was a child prodigy who first performed at the age of four. After a short stay at the Leipzig conservatory, in 1876 he went to study in Brussels. In 1880, he went to Budapest to study with Franz Liszt, only to find out that Liszt was in Weimar, Germany.
During the 1890s Albéniz lived in London and Paris and wrote mainly theatrical works. In 1900 started to suffer from a kidney disease and returned to the writing of piano music. Between 1905 and 1909 he composed his most famous work, Iberia (1906-1909), a suite of twelve piano "impressions".