My Fund it campaign: Composer Alberto Ginastera / by Maire Carroll

Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)

Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)

Hello again,

I am so excited that l have just passed the 75% mark on my Fund it campaign! I have another seven days left to reach my target.  Thank you again everyone, I'm getting more and more excited as the days go on. I can't wait to start recording!

So far I've given you French composer, Chaminade and Irish composer, Adams. Now it's time for Argentine composer, Alberto Ginastera, whose electrifying Piano Sonata No.1  will also feature on my debut album. 


Who is Alberto Ginastera? Emerging on the international music scene in the late 1940's, Alberto Ginastera, established himself as one of the mid-twentieth century's most distinctive compositional figures. Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires in 1916 and showed early promise as a performer and a composer. Within a few years of his admittance to the National Conservatory as an undergraduate, his music was receiving national acclaim in prominent performance venues.

Ginastera is the foremost representative of musical nationalism. His oeuvre covers all genres. His attractive output for piano skillfully combines folk Argentine rhythms and colors with modern composing techniques.

Ginastera worked actively as a composer and champion of new music despite considerable obstacles; his political views forced his resignation from positions at the National Military Academy and the National University of La Plata (he regained the this position after Perón's defeat). He retired to Switzerland after decades of teaching in Argentina's most prominent musical institutions and his last years were among his most fruitful. When he died in 1983, Mrs. Ginastera said that her husband's death was ''especially tragic because he so much wanted to compose more music.''


Describe his musical style... In terms of musical style, Ginastera's works can be divided into three periods that he called Objective Nationalism, Subjective Nationalism, and Neo-Expressionism. His early works belong to the first period. Ginastera uses Argentine folk and popular elements and introduces them in a straight forward manner.

From 1948 on, while in the US, Ginastera turns to Subjective Nationalism. He starts to use more advanced composing techniques however, he never gives up Argentine traditions. He composed Piano Sonata No.1 during this period. 

His 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 and meditative adagios suggesting the quietness of the Pampas; magic, mysterious sounds reminding the cryptic nature of the country.''


Does his music sound familiar to other composers? Ginastera's music has often been compared to other composers - to Debussy for ''its vivid color and undulating vocal lines,'' to Bartok for its ''curious blend of savagery and nervousness,'' and to Stravinsky for its ''rhythmic litheness and neatly economical scoring.''


Why do l like to play this sonata? This sonata is challenging in a different way to the other works on the album. As well as being technically difficult with many hurdles to overcome along the way, the first, second and fourth movement go by so quickly. All three of these movements are a work-out, both physically and mentally.  In the first movement, the fiery rhythmic energy is contrasted with captivating lyricism and this makes for a very exhilarating performance (provided you hit all the correct notes)! 


Where did l first hear this piece of music? I was watching the BBC proms a few years ago on television with my parents and we heard the fourth movement of the Piano Sonata No.1 being performed. We all gasped: Wow! I'd never heard it before so l took a note of the piece, l studied it and here we are!


Here is another piece by Ginastera that I'd love to learn at some point. It is hauntingly beautiful - 'La Danza de La Moza Donosa' performed by Daniel Barenboim.