The Contemporary Music and its Promotion in Argentina

Foto alicia 10Due to the little information in our country about who is who concerning the promotion of the contemporary music in the past 120 years, I consider it very important to write a summary to clarify – within the possibilities of my memory and knowledge – facts, institutions and people who have made an important contribution in this field. 

 It is very important to our Encuentros Foundation to make known and to make recognized the Argentineans who have been engaged in the history – and are still today – to the aim of promoting the contemporary music.

However there are people who believe that everything is born and developed only thanks to their own actions, situation we consider should beamended.

It is important to respect the protagonists of this story, to recognize what was done in the past by supporting, without exceptions, everyone who today continue to contribute new experiences. It is about humility and respect to the others and an example of professional Ethics.

As composer and specialized musicologist in History and the Evolution of the Contemporary Music, I think it important to write a synthesis of what was and is today the history of the promotion of music of our country and including, to finalize, a synthesis of 44 years devoted by the Encuentros Foundation since 1968.

 Probably my story may have empty spaces that many of you will fill in and whom I wish to thank in advance by their memories and knowledge, since I wrote this article trusting in my own memory and experience. An essay is perfectible and I hope my colleagues will enrich it with their own knowledge.

Argentina always payed much attention to the avant-gardes since the end of the XIXthCentury when many Argentine composers travelled to Europe thanks to grants received from the Senate of our country to complete and/or master their musical studies guided by the great creators of that moment.

The Colon Opera House inaugurated in 1908, scheduled the music of that times by premiering and/or commissioning operas and ballets to Argentine composers, works that enhanced our repertoire.

In 1915 the National Society of Music (now Argentine Association of Composers) began their activities and gradually other institutions of composers were formed until the 80s in the whole country whose goal would be the promotion of the contemporary music and specially of their own colleagues.

Thanks to the visit of the Russian ballet Diaghilev (1913 and 1917) and the orchestral conducting of Mtro. Ernst Ansermet, the work of Igor Stravinsky was made known in Buenos Aires.

Some years later the Association of Orchestral Studies was organized thanks to the efforts of musicians, a subsidy obtained, and the support of Victoria Ocampo, and then it was possible to invite the Swiss Maestro Ernst Ansermet to conduct European avant-garde master pieces of that times. This association promoted for the first time in our country, in 1924, the most recent works written by Stravinsky, Prokofieff, Falla, Malipiero, Milhaud, Debussy, Ravel, Honneger, Debussy.

In 1929, Juan Carlos Paz together with Luis Gianneo, Gilardo Gilardi, Jacobo Ficher, Juan José and José María Castro founded the Grupo Renovación, giving the Buenos Aires audiences the possibility to know and listen to the new avant-gardist expressions.

Later on, in 1937 Juan Carlos Paz left this Group and founded the Agrupación Nueva Música (New Music Association) which would support his avant-gardist ideals until his death.

By the same time, other founder of the Grupo Renovación, Luis Gianneo would settle in Tucumán continuing his task as composer and transforming that Mediterranean city in a centre of promotion of the XXth century music by inviting prestigious European musical personalities.

Juan José Castro, as orchestra conductor would be, by the end of the 30s, the ideal performer of Stravinsky`s works. When he arrived in Buenos Aires for the first time in 1936, the reception of the audience for the premiere of his Persephone would be amazing, finding in our Victoria Ocampo the ideal recitant of his work.

By the end of the 40s and beginning of the 50s , the first experiences of electronic and concrete music were realized in Paris (France) and Koln (Germany) which will be introduced in our country by Clara Goreloff in her famous concerts of the Chamber Concerts Association whose artistic director and programmer was the Argentine composer Rodolfo Arizaga, ignored regretfully nowadays. These concerts were given in the 50s/60s in a theatre placed on Corrientes Ave.

There, the porteños had the opportunity to listen not only the first European concrete and electronic musical works which would leave a deep impression in the audiences, but also would be able to listen to the first auditions of the complete series of Quartetts by Bartok, Schoenberg, Milhaud, works that enriched our musical environment and which would be listened in magnificent versions by invited international ensembles.

In 1954, Alberto Ginastera conducted a weekly evening audition on Radio Nacional, the Contemporary Music Club in which he presented the newer world creations, material he would take to the country at his return from his premieres abroad.

Thanks to Ginasteras advice, when I finalized my career of Composition in 1958 I myself started a series of weekly auditions devoted to the Argentine contemporary music on Radio Provincia of Buenos Aires and later on by Radio Nacional embracing the whole music of the XXth century.

This activity would be continued by the ex Radio Municipal and finally in the last 10 years until 2010 by Radio Amadeus/Cultura Musical.

There were 52 years of my life devoted to the weekly radio promotion of the music of our times composed by Argentine and foreign creators. 

Following with our story in the 60s, Ginastera created and directed the Latin American Centre of High Musical Studies joining to this department the famous Di Tella Institute which aim was to give opportunities to master on updated composition techniques to many Argentine and Latin American composers.

The grants Ginastera received from the Rockefeller Foundation were generous and allowed the selected ones from the Latin American countries to live safe and study with the most outstanding personalities of the contemporary music in the world that arrived and stayed during many months in Buenos Aires invited by Ginastera.

In 1959, the composer César Franchisena from Córdoba (Argentina) would devoted himself to the research of composition with electronic media in Radio Universidad of Córdoba and, one year later, would continue them in the Laboratory of Acoustics at the University of Córdoba. 

In Buenos Aires, a prominent specialist in electronic music, Ing. Fernando Reichenbach, later on the Chief of Department of Technology in the Laboratory of Research and Musical Production of the Centre of Research placed in the Cultural Centre Recoleta, created many prototypes related to the cultural technology and the electronic industry by developing systems and equipment applied to the composition: analogic graphic converter that synthesizes sounds following an analogic score through a video camera as well as a reader of microfilms for ionospheric probings.

He was accompanied among many others by composers José Luis Maranzano and Francisco Kropfl. Later on, from 1973 to 1980, José Luis Maranzano was appointed Director of the so called Centre of Massive Communications, Arts and Technology Researches, appointment that would be passed on to Francisco Kropfl.

I mean the present Laboratory of Research and Musical Production placed in the Cultural Centre Recoleta that is today an important centre devoted to the creation and research of electroacoustic music and where new professionals are trained annually.

Our story arrived to 1968, date when the Encuentros Foundation started the action devoted to the contemporary music and which was a consequence of a request Ginastera made to me: to continue the achievements of the Claemthat, according to Ginastera would stop working.. which happened two years later.

 Encuentros started with a series of midday sessions devoted exclusively to the work of Argentine composers in the Leopoldo Lugones Hall of the ex Municipal Theatre Gral. San Martín.

 In each weekly session the works of 2 composers were listened and analyzed, and then these were invited by the music critic of Clarin newspaper, Napoléon Cabrera to join in a debate together with intellectuals, personalities of the culture, arts and creative thought.

 It was an energizing time if we take into account that the world itself was in a constant revolution searching for new ideas in education and creation.

 That was the beginning of the Encuentros Foundation that, in 44 years of constant action, would take to our country important international personalities of the creation and performance with the purpose of make them known in our country and, at the same time, introduce them to our own avant-garde, our talented Argentine composers and performers.

Thereby, many Argentine composers and performers, supported by Encuentros, obtained grants for mastering in Europe and/or USA.

 I wish to point out that all the activites of the Encuentros Foundation are FREE not only for the audience but also for the musicians that apply for contests, seminars, master classes, etc.

Now I would like to remember a personal experience I had in 1971 in the frame of an exhibition of visual and kinetics arts organized by the Lorenzutti Foundation in the Modern Arts Museum that was located in the Municipal Theatre Gral. San Martín

I proposed to the Museums Director to realize a show of music and dance before closure, which was accepted and, with the purpose to compose a representative musical work, I met the painters getting to know their style. So I was able to compose one hour of original music that I recorded and proposed the Argentine dancer and choreographer Susana Zimmerman to join me in this fascinating adventure, imagining a choreography and dancing the exhibition with my music. It was MUSIDANZA VISION in the Modern Arts Museum during the last 3 days of exhibition in November 1971.

The basic idea was to link new expressions of visual arts to dance and music, settling a bridge of communication that would enrich the contemplation of works and at the same time, achieve a greater understanding of them. That was a motivating experience that defined the aesthetics of my future work.  

I proposed photographer Luis Suvervil to photograph the whole exhibition from which I selected 320 slides, and with my music together with the poems that Guillermo Whitelow wrote specially, my SINFONIA VISUAL EN DOS MOVIMIENTOS (Visual Symphony in two movements) was born.


This multimedia work was presented at the Ices Festival 1972 organized in London by the American composer Harvey Matusow and the English composer Ana Lockwood, with great repercussion in the British audience. The concerts took place in London and later on this work travelled with me to Latin America and Europe.

 One very important action of the Encuentros Foundation was the creation in 1978 of the Grupo Encuentros which premiered 6 Argentine works in their first international tournée of concerts in April 1979 which spanned for 45 days from Portugal, through Europe to Russia and Armenia.

From 1979 to 2011 the Grupo Encuentros acted not only in our country but also realized 33 international tournees performing in the most important festivals in the 5 continents giving 320 concerts with works of Argentine and Latin American composers together with universal XXth and XXIst centuries works.

 In this 33 years of concerts many musicians integrated the Grupo Encuentros and realized International tournees: pianists Dora Castro, Jorge Ugartamendia and Haydée Schwartz; singers Lucia Maranca and Adriana Alba; cellists Leo Viola and Nestor Tedesco; violinist Panagiotis Kyrkiris; flutists Gabriel Sorin and Claudio Barile; clarinetists Martin Tow, Oscar Baquedano , Eduardo Ihidoype ,Matias Tchicourel and bandonenists Daniel Binelli and Daniel Ruggiero.

Currently the Grupo Encuentros is integrated by Maestros Marta Blanco, Claudio Espector, Fabio Mazzitelli, Sergio Polizzi, Carlos Nozzi and Matias Tchicourel under my conducting and counting with a repertoire of over 300 works written in the XXth and XXIst centuries. 

Following with our story, in 1990 the Centre for Contemporary Music was created in the Colon Opera House and was directed by Mtro. Gerardo Gandini who developed important concerts seasons devoted to the music of our times. This cycle is presently directed by Mtro. Miguel Galperin in the same theatre.

 Step by step the Festivals of Contemporary Music organized by the Municipal Theatre Gral. San Martín would join their activities, scheduled by Director Martin Bauer who also organized the Centre of Contemporary Music of the Teatro Argentino in La Plata City. 

The Encuentros Foundation continues today its task realizing annually the Encuentros Festival of Contemporary Music through public and free concerts together with Seminars and Lectures in charge of Argentine and foreign artists spreading their area of promotion to the interior of the country, in addition to the Grupo Encuentros international tournées.

 To know this story, to recognize and appraise the importance of every one of the protagonists allow us to base our actions in a solid past that sustains us and give us wings to continue today and project the actions into the future.

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