Gianneo was one of the leading composers of his generation. Profoundly
Argentinian, he was one of the first and most succesful creators
to strive for a national music with contemporary significance. Most
of his mature musical output shows traces of folk elements, woven
into a neo-classical musical language, sometimes angular, other
times lyrical, but always full of life and momentum.. As a composer,
he became one of the most important predescesors of Alberto Ginastera,
who in many occasions expressed his admiration for Gianneo, and
whose music shows interesting parallelisms with the older composer.
was a tireless musician and educator. He was extremely active teaching,
conducting and performing in the northern province of Tucuman for
more than twenty years. Later, upon his return to Buenos Aires he
formed and conducted several youth orchestras. He was one of the
few composers of his generation who chose to remain in his home
country to develop a musical tradition from within instead of seeking
Gianneo was born in Buenos Aires on 9th January 1897 into a musical
family of Italian immigrants. Unsurprisingly he began his musical
studies at an early age under the leading teachers of the time.
He was a piano pupil of Luigi Romaniello and Ernesto Drangosh and
studied composition with Constantino Gaito and Eduardo Fornarini.
When Fornarini moved abroad, Gianneo relied on his own resources
for further study.
Ghidoni. Gianneo's first wife.
his earlier years Gianneo formed a violin and piano duo with his
brother Miguel and also accompanied distinguished visiting violinists,
while there were performances of his own first chamber and piano
compositions. In 1921 he married the pianist and singer Josefina
Ghidoni, and in 1923 moved with his family to the northern city
of San Miguel de Tucumán on the invitation of his brother-in-law,
a well-known cellist, working first as a teacher at the Tucumán
Instituto Musical, of which he later became director. For twenty
years he continued in Tucumán as a teacher, pianist and orchestral
conductor, active with his wife in stimulating local musical life.
Here he introduced practically all his compositions and performed
a great deal of contemporary music by composers such as Stravinsky,
Debussy and Respighi. He founded and directed the Philharmonic Association,
presided from 1935 over the prestigious Sociedad Sarmento, and collaborated
with the Review of the institution, contributing, in the first issue,
in April 1936, a long article on his much admired Stravinsky, whose
neo-classical principles he followed and whose influence is clearly
reflected in his orchestral Obertura para una Comedia Infantil (Overture
to a Childrens Play), first performed in 1937 under his direction
in a concert of the Tucumán Asociación Sinfónica.
1932 Gianneo joined the Grupo Renovación, founded in 1929
by the brothers Juan José and José Maria Castro, Jacobo
Ficher and Juan Carlos Paz. Gianneo, however, was never able to
identify completely with some of the principles of the group, especially
with those of Juan Carlos Paz, whose radical ideas and fixed absolutist
attitudes he did not share. Their differences came to a head in
1952, when Paz published an article in the Buenos Aires Musical
in which he denied the technical and creative ability of those who
did not share his musical ideas, a proposition openly opposed by
fame of Gianneo had already spread further afield, with acclaim
in Buenos Aires for works such as El Tarco en Flor, Pampeanas and
Turay-Turay, and important performances of his works in major cities
of the interior. In addition to participation in a large number
of concerts as pianist, conductor or composer, he also served as
organist at the Church of St Francis. In these fruitful years in
Tucumán he was greatly helped by his wife and his daughters,
Celia, a fine pianist, and Brunilda, a talented violinist.
1938 Gianneo travelled to Europe with his family with an award from
the National Cultural Commission, absorbing there the latest musical
trends and visiting Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland.
In Florence he attended the International Music Congress and in
Turin conducted the Orchestra of the Royal Conservatory in his symphonic
poem Turay-Turay as part of a concert devoted to the work of Argentinian
composers. In Paris he wrote his Cinco pequeñas piezas (Five
Little Pieces) and the Sonatina for piano, the First Symphony and
the Concertino-Serenata. At the beginning of 1939, some months before
the outbreak of war, the family returned to Buenos Aires, where
they finally established themselves in 1943.
1945 Gianneo founded the Argentinian Youth Orchestra for Radio El
Mundo, and then, in 1954, the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Radio
Nacional. He served as director of the National Conservatory and
was a member of the Cultural Commission and the Academy of Fine
Arts. Awards for his compositions included the Prize of the Free
Library of Philadelphia for Latin-American Composers for his Concierto
Aymara for violin and orchestra, first performed at the Teatro Colón
in 1944, and the Municipal Prize of the City of Buenos Aires for
his Transfiguración for baritone and orchestra. Commissioned
works included the Variaciones sobre un tema de tango (Variations
on a Tango Theme) for the Friends of Music Association, Piano Sonata
No. 3 for the Association of Chamber Concerts, the symphony Antífona
for Radio Nacional, the cantata Angor Dei for the Tucumán
Musical September and the Obertura del Sesquicentenario, his last
work, for the Organization of American States.
first ten years back in Buenos Aires brought Gianneo increasing
fame, with frequent performances of his music. His work as a teacher
was as intensive as it had been in Tucumán, with pupils that
included Rodolfo Arizaga and Virtú Maragno, and later the
famous conductor Pedro Ignacio Calderón and Ariel Ramirez,
the very distinguished pianist and composer of traditional Argentinian
music. In 1949 Alberto Ginastera invited him to serve as Professor
of Harmony, Instrumentation and Composition at the recently created
Conservatory of Music and Drama of La Plata.
1955, after the coup détat that ousted General Perón,
Gianneo was appointed inspector of the National Conservatory. In
the same year his wife died suddenly, after a short illness. Soon
afterwards his two daughters moved to Europe for further study and
he spent a number of years alone before marrying Inés Rosa
Sayans in 1960. With her he travelled to Europe, sent by the Ministry
of Education to study new methods of musical education.
son Luis Alejandro was born in Rome in 1961. He dedicated his 1962
cantata Angor Dei to his wife, and to his son the 1965 Poema de
la Saeta. In the latter year he was elected President of the Argentinian
Society for Music Education. In 1967 he undertook his third journey
to Europe, making contact there with state broadcasting stations,
academies and theatres, to promote the performance of Argentinian
music. He died eight months after his return to Buenos Aires, on
15th August 1968, while revising the score of Transfiguración
for a coming performance.
Translated and abridged by Keith Anderson
(from Gianneo: Complete Works for Piano in 3 CDs. Marco Polo, 2002)