South/Latin American composers after 1900
June 3, 2007 11:37 AM   Subscribe

While the first pioneering forays into atonality and free chromaticism were starting to occur in Western European music, the talents of Latin and South America were discovering the Romantic beauty of re-interpreting the past. [much, much more inside!]
posted by invitapriore (6 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
NOTE: Most of the links to composers consist of both a wikipedia entry for the completeness of its biography, and a Naxos link for samples of the work. I'll follow each name with (W, N) for wikipedia and naxos, respectively.

Our tale begins in Mexico in 1882, with the birth of one Manuel M. Ponce (W, N), who sought to revive some of the musical traditions of his home country. As the Naxos article (over-)states, his partnership with Segovia produced quite a bit of beautiful guitar music, but his entire body of work is enchanting.

Next comes Agustín Barrios, born 1885 (W, N). Like many of his South American colleagues, he was a guitarist of some renown, and is known primarily because of his compositions for the instrument. Forgotten for decades, the great classical guitarist John Williams now declares him, among guitarists/composers, "the best of the lot," combining the style of the late Romantic period in European music with the sounds of his own Paraguayan folk music.

Not soon after in 1887 was born Heitor Villa-Lobos (W, N), a Brazilian whose musical influences were as broad as the culture into which he was born. He would flirt with European influences throughout his career, but he remained staunchly dedicated to the sounds of indigenous Brazil.

Later on in 1917 would come the Venezuelan Antonio Lauro (W, N [I recommend the second album link on this page]), a composer whose beginnings as a folk guitarist would influence his later output as a formal performer and composer. Another hero of the guitar, his strong sense of pride for a democratic Venezuela was a major influence on his compositions and eventually landed him in jail during the brief rule of General Jiménez, an ordeal which he survived.

Next we come to the Cuban composer Leo Brouwer (music web, N), who was born in 1939 and is still composing today (interview). Although beginning his career with experiments into serialism and aleatoric music, he has always been close to the musical traditions of his native Cuba, and describes his later, more tonal works as a kind of "hyper-romanticism."

Finally (though not exhaustively), we come to Ernesto Cordero (Music of Puerto Rico, personal website [click on DEMO], [Canto Negroriano, Danza del Cimarron, and Elegia Negra are by Cordero]). A Puerto Rican composer, he is held in high esteem as a guitarist and composer, whose work draws from the African and Latino traditions of his beautiful island (personal insertion :)).

Hopefully, the music speaks for itself. Have a mellifluous day.
posted by invitapriore at 11:37 AM on June 3, 2007

AH! My sincerest apologies. BugMeNot for
posted by invitapriore at 11:54 AM on June 3, 2007

The article mentions Ginastera, of whom I've been aware for some time (long enough to have the opera Bomarzo on vinyl.) Hair-raising stuff it is, too!
posted by jfuller at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2007

Ginastera's quartets are well worth a listen. Bartok of the Pampas indeed.
posted by scheptech at 2:54 PM on June 3, 2007

I'm not very familiar with him, but I heard one of his string quartets briefly. Something to check out...:)
posted by invitapriore at 7:26 PM on June 3, 2007

Regrettably, apart from Villa-Lobos, I haven't heard much of these gents - but from what I have heard, I'd nominate the music of Cuba's Ernesto Lecuona.

I'd appreciate recommendations for fine Lecuona recordings.

Fortunately the West's turn to atonality and serialism was not complete in America either. I wonder ... can I get away with the word "stillborn" yet?
posted by Twang at 11:12 PM on June 3, 2007

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