Ginastera, Argentine composer, died on June 25, 1983. He had been
born in Buenos Aires on April 11, 1916, the son of Catalonian and
Italian immigrants devoted to agriculture, trade, and crafts.
began his music studies at a very early age. When he was 12 he entered
the Williams Conservatory. In 1934 he got his first award from "El
Unisono" Association. Many important awards followed throughout
his life, such as "Argentine School Song" Award, four national prizes,
three municipal prizes , Bicentennial Cinzano Award, National Fund
for the Arts Annual Award, etc.
1942 Ginastera received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation to
visit the United States, but he postponed his trip until 1945. This
journey was to highly influence his future works On his return to
Buenos Aires he and other Argentine composers founded the Composers'
League. He also founded the La Plata Music and Performing Arts Conservatory
and the Latin American Center for Advanced Music Studies at the
Di Tella Institute, in Buenos Aires.
to his numerous academic activities, he was a Member of the Conseil
Intemational de la Musique (UNESCO), Member of the National Academy
of Fine Arts in Argentina, Honorary Member of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences, Honorary Member of the School of Music Sciences
and Arts (Chile Nation al University), Member of the Chilean Composers
Association, and Honorary Member of the Brazilian Music Academy.
was the Dean and Honorary Professor at the School of Music Sciences
and Arts (Argentine Catholic University), and Professor at the La
Plata University. In 1968 Yale University awarded him an honorary
is the foremost representative of musical nationalism. His oeuvre
covers all music genres. He composed three operas, five ballets,
orchestra works, one harp concerto, two piano concertos, two cello
concertos, one violin concerto, two choir works, cantatas, works
for piano, voice, organ, flute, guitar, and chamber music. He also
composed music for the theater and for eleven movies. His total
repertoire contains fifty five works, but being perfectionist and
meticulous as he was, many of them were withdrawn from his catalogue.
to Ginastera's style, his oeuvre can be divided into three periods
that he called Objective Nationalism, Subjective Nationalism, and
His early works belong to the first period. Ginastera uses Argentine
folk and popular elements and introduces them in a straight forward
manner. He is also influenced by Stravinsky and, in a lesser degree,
by Bartok and Falla. Two of his most famous works belong to this
period, Argentine Dances op. 2 for piano, and Estancia (Ballet).
1948 on, the time of his stay in the US, he starts to use more advanced
composing techniques. He naturally turns to Subjective Nationalism,
with no revolutionary positions. He does away with popular traditional
elements, although he continues to use them mainly for symbolic
purposes. He never gives up Argentine traditions. He uses rhythmic
contrasts and has a deep, tense feeling. Melody is still important,
as well and contrasts between tension and relaxation. The most important
works belonging to this period are Pampeana No. 3 for orchestra
and his Piano Sonata No. 1, one of the staples in the repertoire
of today's pianists.
Neo-Expressionist period starts approximately in 1958. In Ginastera's
own words, "There are no more folk melodic or rhythmic cells, nor
is there any symbolism. There are, however, constant Argentine elements,
such as strong, obsessive rhythms, meditative adagios suggesting
the quietness of the Pampas; magic, mysterious sounds reminding
the cryptic nature of the country. Several important works belong
to this period, such as his much criticized opera Bomarzo, his Popul
Vuh for orchestra, and his Concerto No. 2 for Cello and orchestra.