“To compose, in my opinion, is to create an architecture… In music, this architecture unfolds in time… When time has past, when the work has unfolded, a sense of inner perfection survives in the spirit. Only then can one say that the composer has succeeded in creating that architecture.” — Alberto Ginastera
Ginastera, the son of Spanish and Italian immigrants, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 11, 1916. He was one of Latin America’s most original and important composers, creating over 50 works, including 3 operas, 2 ballets, concertos, chamber music, and works for piano, orchestra, vocal and instrumental ensembles. After he completed his study at the Buenos Aires Conservatory he spent time in the United States where he studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood. Some of his works included Argentine folk songs, just as Copland used American folk tunes in his compositions. Many of Ginastera’s works premiered in the U.S., including his opera Bomarzo, which was originally banned in Argentina for political reasons. The vitality of his Latin rhythms, the lyrical folk tune elements, and nationalistic themes were elements of his thoroughly modern idioms (including 12-tone) that distinguished his music, and his use of Latin instruments (as in Popol Vuh: The Creation of the Mayan World) added an exciting dimension to the classical orchestra.
After a successful international career in teaching and composing– living in Argentina, the United States, and Europe–Ginastera died in 1983 in Geneva, Switzerland, at the age of 67.
Watch the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (directed by Gustavo Dudamel) perform Ginastera’s exciting Danza Malambo from Estancia, at the 2007 BBC Proms. For more from this phenomenal youth orchestra and its superstar conductor Dudamel see The Promise of Music DVD.