Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: E(mily) R. Frank (1967-) Biography - Personal to Martha Graham (1893–1991) Biography » Alberto Ginastera: 1916-1983: Argentine Composer Biography - Composed Ballet Scores, Employed Serial Technique, Married Argentine Cellist

Alberto Ginastera: 1916-1983: Argentine Composer - Married Argentine Cellist

music orchestra aurora sometimes

Beatrix Cenci, which featured rape and incest in its plot, was born during a personally turbulent period of Ginastera's life: he separated from his first wife Mercedes, with whom he had had two children, in 1969, and he was unable to compose for some months. This period of writer's block ended when Ginastera became romantically involved with the Argentine cellist Aurora Nátola; the two married in 1971, and Ginastera finished his opera in time for the inauguration of the new Kennedy Center in Washington. Many of the compositions from Ginastera's later years were written for or inspired by Aurora, including two concertos for cello and orchestra and the Serenata, which set love poems by the Chilean writer Pablo Neruda to music.

Ginastera and his wife settled in Geneva, Switzerland, and apart from a stream of lectures and visiting professorships, was able to compose full time; sometimes he remained awake and working until 5 a.m. His final works included a vast unfinished but performable symphonic work, Popol vuh, which was inspired by Mayan cosmology. In some of his late works he seemed to be trying to reintroduce into his style musical elements specific to the Western Hemisphere. Looking back on his career in a Washington Post interview in 1978, Ginastera discerned unity in his music despite the various stylistic changes it had undergone: "Always in my music there is this violent rhythm," he said. "Nature is there, sometimes calm, and sometimes with this violence." Ginastera died in Geneva on June 25, 1983. His wife Aurora told the New York Times that his death was "especially tragic because he so much wanted to compose more music."

Selected works

Panambí, ballet, 1937.

Estancia, ballet, 1941.

Piano Sonata No. 1, 1952.

Variaciones concertantes, for chamber orchestra, 1953.

Harp Concerto, 1956.

Concerto No. 1, for piano and orchestra, 1960.

Don Rodrigo, opera, 1964.

Bomarzo, opera, 1967.

Beatrix Cenci, 1971.

Serenata, songs on texts by Pablo Neruda, 1973.

Popol vuh, for orchestra, incomplete.



Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale, 1996.

Machlis, Joseph, Introduction to Contemporary Music, 2nd edition, Norton, 1979.

Sadie, Stanley, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, Grove, 2001.


New York Times, June 27, 1983, p. B7.

Washington Post, January 29, 1978, p. F3.


"Alberto Ginastera," All Classical Guide, www.allclassical.com (March 21, 2003).

—James M. Manheim

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