list of piano works
No. 1 (1917) [Manuscript]
changuita (tango) / My Little Girl (tango) (1919) [Manuscript]
Composiciones / Four Compositions (1916) [Ricordi]
Intimo / Intimate Album
sobre un Tema de Haendel / Variations on a Theme by Handel
Lento / Slow Waltz (1923)
Preludios / Three Preludes (1926-1932) [Manuscript]
para niños / Music for Children (1946) [EAM and Southern-Peer]
estudios / Two etudes (1933) [Manuscript]
(1933) [Grupo Renovación]
(1938) [EAM and Peer-Southern]
pequeñas piezas / Five little pieces (1938) [Max Eschig]
danzas argentinas / Three Argentinian dances (1938) [EAM and
No. 2 (1943) [Fischer]
piezas infantiles / Seven children's pieces (1946) [EAM and
/ Christmas Carol (1947) [EAM and Peer-Southern]
de Belén / Little road to Bethlehem (1947) [EAM and
/ Improvisation (1948) [Manuscript]
No. 3 (1957) [Manuscript]
bagatelas / Six bagatelles (1957) [Manuscript]
work can be divided into four periods of different duration. The
first is a stage of development, between 1913 and 1923, under the
European influences of the great German romantics and the French
impressionists, principally in piano music. The second transitional
stage occurs between 1923 and 1932, from his move to Tucumán
to his collaboration with the Grupo Renovación. This stage
brought together his formal European training and the folk elements
through which he sought a national musical language. The third stage,
one of maturity, is the twenty-year period from 1933 to 1953, during
which the two principal tendencies derived from the use of folk-music
and from neo-classicism combine into a unique musical language,
refined over the years and ending in the last piano works in a wonderful
simplicity and economy of resources. The fourth stage of full achievement
covers the last fifteen years of his creative life, when he moved
gradually towards his disciplined use of the dodecaphony. During
this stage, he only wrote four works for the piano, and after 1959
he no longer wrote for this instrument. In 1962, after a period
of four years in which he wrote nothing, he composed the ballet
El Retorno. Immediately afterwards he wrote the cantata Angor
Dei, the Three Pieces for violin (1963), Antífona
(1964), the Poema de la Saeta (1965) and the Overture
for the 150th Anniversary (1966), the last of these composed
two years before his death.
most important of Gianneos piano compositions come from the
third stage of his career, as he continued to refine his musical
language. The acclaimed Suite of 1933 is in three movements
and achieves a happy synthesis of vernacular elements in a contemporary
musical framework, with national elements that are not merely exotic
or picturesque additions but rather form the backbone that supports
the musical discourse of the work. In the first movement, in A minor,
he uses a range of contrapuntal techniques suggesting the form of
the sonata. The thematic economy and the use and development of
small motivic cells show the composers understanding of neo-classicism
in a virtuoso movement of constant feverish rhythmic activity in
quavers, surprising changes of timbres and registers and effective
elaboration and placing of climaxes. The ternary second movement
is based on a theme resembling a yaravi, a kind of sad song typical
of the north-west of Argentina. As in the whole work, the last movement
is firmly based on folk-music elements. Relatively free in form,
three main sections can be identified, the central one of which,
slightly slower, serves as melodic relief from the rapider music
that frames it. The piece ends with a brilliant final section containing
a virtuoso cadenza.
Sonatina of 1938 [Editorial Argentina de la Música], completed
in Paris, is in three movements and is written in a limpid and balanced
neo-classical language, with a generous use of counterpoint. The
thematic material is derived from the rhythms and melodies of Argentinian
folk-music, in writing that recalls baroque textures in its use
of counterpoint and the constant rhythmic semiquaver activity. The
first movement is based on a single modal syncopated theme, stated
in the first eight bars, derived from the candombe rhythm, a dance
of Afro-American origin from the River Plate region. The second
movement is a minuet in ternary form with a coda, fresh and diaphanous
in its writing, with a full use of parallel fourths that, with a
series of arpeggiated chords, suggests the sound of the guitar.
The last movement is broadly in classical rondo-sonata form. Its
principal theme, in A natural minor and suggesting something of
the Dorian mode, is based on the rhythm of the chacarera, a dance
from north-west Argentina. The central section, marked Più
lento, offers four successive entries of the theme in a fugato.
Sonata No. 2 of 1943 is, with the Suite, perhaps the most ambitious
work of the time. It has three movements and is written in a neo-classical
style, but has as its basis themes of folk origin in both the first
and last movements. The first movement is a delicate contrapuntal
framework dominated by a single theme that recalls the rhythm of
the chacarera, worked in distinctive colours and tempi, in different
registers of the piano, either in imitations or in virtuosic passages
full of scales, arpeggios and fortissimo chords. The second movement,
Romanza, is a lyrical song articulated over two themes, barely a
little more complex than the cradle-songs of his childrens
pieces. The third movement, marked Allegro molto, sets off furiously
in the chacarera rhythm, above which the first theme is developed.
After a short transition, strong chords diminish until the introduction
of the second theme, slower, cantabile, strongly modal in character.
The central part offers some short new themes over undulating scale
passages, in the midst of a strong rhythm that recalls the theme
of the opening. The recapitulation brings back the first theme in
exact form and joins it with the second in a difficult scintillating
passage of rapid scales. The closing section, brilliant and providing
great pianistic display, brings a grandiose repetition of the second
Improvisación was written in 1948 and seems to be
an elegy, perhaps in memory of his friend, the violinist Enrique
Mario Casella, who died in that year. The work is an expression
of nostalgia for the countryside of Tucumán, with the first
and final sections marked by a constant quaver rhythm, with the
immediate repetition of the first and second phrase. The four-bar
descending bass ostinato contributes to the dark, funereal mood,
with the same melodic phrase used to end each phrase in the right
hand. The central section is, on the other hand, more luminous and
passionate. The limpid harmonies touch, from time to time, on the
Phrygian and Lydian modes.
in 1956, in the fourth period of his career, Gianneos three-movement
Sonata No. 3 is cyclical in structure, heart-rending and harsh,
seeming to reflect his sorrow at the death of his wife and also
the turbulent and unfortunate political situation of the country.
The first movement introduces the motifs to be developed throughout
the sonata, always showing major-minor duality. The short second
theme has a folk character. In the development the generative motifs
are transformed to become opposing elements and the second theme
appears fleetingly to add a tinge of sadness to the vivid drama.
The second movement is in three sections, worked together in a filigree
pattern of contrapuntal motifs. There is a slow and lonely sad song
of the pampas, amid the dissonances of the counter-theme. In the
middle section there is a distant sound of a tango rhythm, accompanying
a slight modification of the opening theme, extended to be juxtaposed
with the motifs of the first movement in a wild climax. The third
part is a fugato. The third movement Rondo, in the clear rhythm
of a malambo, takes up again the harmonic idea and motifs of the
first movement. At this point appears a quotation of "Arrorró
Indígena" (Indian Lullaby), one of the movements
of his work Música para Niños (Music for Children)
written in 1941, followed by the motif of the first bar of the first
movement, but with its rhythm somewhat changed, to state again thereafter
the initial basic malambo.
Seis Bagatelas (Six Bagatelles), written between 1957
and 1959, in manuscript like Sonata No. 3 and Improvisación
of 1948, complete the cycle of piano compositions. Here Gianneo
avoids any overt nationalism, except for the slightly tango-type
rhythm of the fourth Bagatelle. The sixth, too, makes a slight
allusion to the fifth of the Cinco Pequeñas Piezas
(Five Little Pieces) of 1938, the moto perpetuo. These six micro-structures
are in strict counterpoint, with the third Bagatelle a clearly
modal canon in two parts at the minor seventh. The harmony is worked
out within these parameters, with a great economy of resources,
suggesting two-part inventions, as much as anything else.
the second period of Gianneos life comes En el Altiplano
(In the Altiplano), a work representing a greater compromise
with new stylistic tendencies, with a more refined compositional
technique. This prelude is no longer a mosaic of folk-style material
interlarded with romantic virtuoso passages but rather the development
of a musical idea evoking the countryside of Tucumán and
the music of the Andes, over an ostinato bass imitating the traditional
drum accompaniment of the vidala.
alludes in its title to the northern folk-dance, the bailecito
norteño. In A minor, with marked modal colouring, it is one
of Gianneos most original works, combining great pianistic
difficulties with a formal structure based on the original dance.
Short and brilliant in character, and clearly derived from folk-music,
the new techniques used definitively abandon any romantic or impressionistic
Dos Estudios (Two Studies) of 1933 make use of a zamba theme
and that of a vidala, respectively. The first, Estudio con tema
de Zamba quotes the first phrase of the famous traditional Zamba
de Vargas, which it develops contrapuntally, presenting a certain
technical pianistic difficulty with great economy of means. The
Estudio con tema de Vidala, offering greater technical difficulty,
develops a single theme, vaguely evoking a vidala, always accompanied
by rapid semiquaver quintuplets.
Cinco pequeñas piezas (Five Little Pieces) were written
in Paris in 1938 and are all very short and in ternary form, with
simple melodic lines. The first of the set, however, "Requiebros"
(Coquetterie), with the rhythm of a candombe, offers a theme that
also appears in the first movement of the Sonatina of the same year,
both very similar in melody. The second, "Canción de
cuna" (Cradle Song), has a tender, subdued melody. The third,
"Marcha de los Soldaditos de cuerda" (March of the Toy
Soldiers), is vigorous and rhythmic in character. The fourth, "Vals
sentimental" (Sentimental Waltz), imitates mannered French
waltzes. The last, "Movimiento perpetuo" (Perpetual Movement),
is a constant flow of semiquavers in the style of a toccata.
Tres danzas Argentinas (Three Argentinian Dances), written
in 1939, offers a series of dances typical of the country. The first
of these, "Gato," expands the original form contrapuntally
and in its harmonic vocabulary. "Tango" reflects sentimental
nostalgia for urban music in its two themes, and "Chacarera"
brings out in its harmonic language the elements of bimodality and
bitonality, as in the preceding dances, in an aggressively neo-classical
para niños" (Music for Children), composed in 1941,
is a series of ten pieces, starting with a prelude and fugue, in
obvious allusion to Bach. The Prelude recalls the Prelude in C major
of the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier. The fugue is a two-part
invention constructed from the theme of the last movement of the
Suite of 1933. "El Juglar" (The Juggler) suggests the
circus; "Zapateado" reflects a mens country dance;
"Vidalita" is a sad and expressive song. "Quenas"
(Indian Flute) recalls the instrument of that name, and, in the
central section, its accompanying drum; "Pericón"
is a popular folk-dance; "La morochita" (The Little Dark-Haired
Girl) is taken from the tango "La Morocha;" the "Aire
popular" (Folk Song) is a candombe, the "Arroró
indigena" an Indian cradle song and the "Bailecito Cantado"
(Little Dance Song) a gato.
Siete piezas infantiles (Seven Pieces for Children), written
in 1946, represent a synthesis of the two elements of the composers
style: neo-classicism and nationalism. The "Ronda" (Round),
legato and moderato in tempo, has a Lydian mode theme of great simplicity.
The "Canción de cuna" (Cradle Song) is based on
a single theme, slow and with a rhythm that recalls the vidalitas
of northern Argentina. "Atardecer pampeano" (Pampean Sunset)
in its title suggests the great expanses of the Argentinian pampas,
its simple expressive melody giving it an intimate character. "Sombrerito"
(Little Hat) is inspired by traditional folk-music, related to dances
in other Latin-American countries. "Tango" is in fact
a tango-milonga, whose sad nostalgic character is accentuated by
the descending melodic elements of the first theme and the use of
a minor key. "Tamboril" (Small Drum) is rhythmical and
cheerful, referring to a small version of the drum used in various
provinces of the country to accompany religious processions. Two
themes alternate in the "Danza campesina" (Rustic Dance),
based on the traditional gato.
the same year come the Villancico (Christmas Carol) and Caminito
de Belén (Little Road to Bethlehem), simple and somewhat
sad little childrens pieces on the subject of Christmas. The
simple melody of the first is followed by the faster gallop of a
rider in the second, on the way to Bethlehem.
from the first stage of Gianneos career include the Tarantella
of 1913, Canción (1916) and Te amo (1917),
the Four Compositions (1916-1917), Sonata No. 1 or "Pequeña
Sonata" (Little Sonata) of 1917 and the Variations on a
Theme of Handel (1918), with the tangos and popular songs that
he wrote under the name of Luis Ariel, Mi Changuita, No
tengo Corazón (I have no heart), Alborada (Dawn)
and Fanny. All the compositions of this period are marked
by European influence, doubtless coming from his teachers, particularly
Drangosh and Fornarini. Gianneos talent, still not clearly
defined, can be seen in his management of structures, the creation
of certain bold ideas and authentic and refined musical inspiration.
In Sonata No. 1 and in the Variations on a Theme of Handel his
leaning towards the German romantics, Schumann and Brahms, is evident,
as well as the composers own deep sensibility.
consists of a short introduction, followed by the dance in binary
form, with the exposition returning before the final coda. It is
surprising in the asymmetry of the phrases, often cut short or joined
together with unexpected elisions, supported by a traditional harmony,
very simple and apt for a popular dance.
is preserved in manuscript and is a piece of modest proportions,
with the structure of Mendelssohns Songs without Words. In
A major, it is in binary form, with a repetition of the first section.
Four Compositions show a perceptible French influence. The
first, "Vieja Canción," in E flat major, is a sensitive
and nostalgic melody of simple outline. The second, "Berceuse,"
in F major with a dramatic central section in D minor, is a lullaby
with a syncopated accompaniment. The third, "En bateau,"
in F sharp major, and the fourth, "Arabesca," in D major,
suggest impressionism, with a clear allusion to Debussy in the use
of semiquaver arpeggios to accompany the flowing melody.
Little Sonata of 1917 was first performed by Josefina Ghidoni
in Tucumán in 1923. It is a work of romantic passion, in
which Gianneo makes use of the whole battery of romantic virtuosity
in the outer movements. The opening Allegro moderato, in sonata
form, is passionate and stormy, with a marked contrast between the
two principal themes. The central Andantino, in E major, is gentle
and calm, in five-part rondo form, light-hearted and French in style,
in spite of the stormy central section. The third movement is a
lively rondo, in which the strong influences of Schumann do not
conceal the musical personality of the composer.
amo is a short romantic waltz, inspired by his love for his
future wife, Josefina Ghidoni.
Variations on a Theme of Handel are based on the soprano
aria Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion from Messiah.
The theme and nine variations are each of eight bars, and the last
variation, "Quasi preludio," leads to the fugue, after
a short cadenza. Gianneos admiration for Brahms is evident
in the choice of title and the form of the work. Four of the variations,
in B flat major, are fast, brilliant and written in virtuoso style
(Variations I, III, V and VII). The other four are slow and expressive,
two of them in the minor (Variations II and VI) and the fourth anticipates
the subject of the fugue. Variation IX is an improvisation in Baroque
style, with a profusion of scales and arpeggios. The fugue, the
most substantial part of the work, with 89 bars, opens with the
subject heard in Variation IV, with three entries, developing in
modulations that end the first part in D major in bar 45. The second
part of the fugue offers an original treatment of the subject, by
diminution, in staccato quavers, ending in a passage of expressive
triplets, embroidering the theme, slightly varied in its intervals,
over a dominant pedal until the final Più vivo, providing
a brilliant and triumphant coda.
Lento recalls Debussys La plus que lente. It is
a longish piece, written in recognisably French impressionist style,
languid, refined, perhaps decadent. Nevertheless a Schumann quotation
surprises us in the central section. In spite of evident influences,
the harsh sonorities that would form part of Gianneos musical
language are perceptible.
Changuita is a nostalgic popular tango, built on a formal scheme
and with traditional harmony. It is dedicated to his daughter Celia
and signed with the pseudonym that Gianneo used when venturing into
realms other than those of classical music.
qué? comes from the second period of Gianneos creative
life, after his move to Tucumán. It is a short piece written
for the Album Intimo, for which he had earlier written his
Canción and Te amo. It is also a slow waltz,
sad, but not a salon piece like Te amo, but more intimate and profound.
Gianneo now writes in his own musical language in a period leading
to his maturity.
first of the Three Preludes, "Nocturno," is quietly
mysterious in mood, tinged by impressionism, in spite of elements
typical of Argentinian folk tradition, such as the melody doubled
in thirds, the rhythm of the huella, a dance from central
Argentina, and the superimposition of duple and triple metres. There
is a constant alternation between major and minor, particularly
evident in the last bars, a continuing feature of Gianneos
Noche en la Sierra the musical language is still clearly
linked to his early style, with touches of romantic piano writing
and impressionist sonorities recalling the language of Isaac Albéniz.
The piece consists of three clearly defined sections. The first,
modal in character, consist of a constant expansion of sound from
the pianissimo of the opening to the final fortissimo, with a striking
semiquaver ostinato in the left hand. The second more rhythmic section
has elements that point still more clearly to North-West Argentina,
with a typical shifting from major to relative minor. The piece
ends with the abridged return of the first theme.
el Cañaveral offers contrasts with the preceding pieces
and is the only one written in a major key, E major, conceived as
a romantic virtuoso work, full of arpeggios, chordal melodies, irregular
note values and rhythmic changes. It is in ternary form, with a
dance melody in thirds, such as Gianneo would use the following
year in his symphonic poem El tarco en flor.
Translated and abridged by Keith Anderson