Creative Stages

alicia terzian retrato

Born in Córdoba, Argentina, on July 1st 1934. Argentine composer, conductor and musicologist of Armenian origin.

 She studied in the National Conservatory of Music and Drama of Buenos Aires with the musiciansAlberto Ginastera, Gilardo Gilardi, Roberto García Morillo, Floro Ugarte, Pedro Saenz, the poet Pedro Miguel Obligado, where she graduated in piano (1954) and was awarded the First Prize and Gold Medal in composition in Alberto Ginastera´s professorship (1959).

In 1962 she travelled to Europe to study the religious medieval Armenian music from IVth to XIIth centuries with Father Dr. Leoncio Dayan at the Mekhitarist Monastery in Saint Lazaro, Venice. She finished her musical studies of orchestra conducting with Mariano Drago and later on, electronic music.

Her activities as composer, conductor, musicologist and promoter of contemporary music has given her – since her youth – the acknowledge not only in her country but also abroad.

She was the recipient of numerous prizes, among the most important are the Orchestral Composition First Prize by the Municipalidad of Buenos Aires City (1964); ‘Francisco Solano’ Prize for her promotion of the Argentine music (1968), the Outstanding Young Yearly Award by the Junior Chamber of Buenos Aires (1970); National Funds for the Arts for her work Atmósferas and Concert for Violin and Orchestra (1970); the First National Prize of Music for her work Voces (1982); the International Prize Gomidas by the Composers Association of Armenia (1983); the Academic Palms by the Government of France; the Saint Sahak and Saint Mesrop decorations and the Papal Bull by Pope Vazkén Ist of the Armenian Church (1992); the ‘Alberto Castilla’ Medal of Colombia (1994); the Miró-Picasso Medal given by the General Director of the Unesco (1995).

In 2003 she was appointed by unanimity HONORARY MEMBER of the International Music Council during the General Assembly integrated by 100 countries.

Terzian has also developed her activities in the field of superior and university education in the Municipal Conservatory, the National Conservatory of Music (IUNA) in Didactic of Music, Pedagogy, Harmony, Instrumentation, Orchestration and Counterpoint; the Superior School of Fine Arts of the National University of La Plata (History of Music); Superior Institute of Arts of the Colón Opera House ( History of Opera); The History of Music in Argentina in the programme Introduction to the Argentine Culture of the Foreing Affairs Service of the Argentine Republic, and for the National Institute of Public Administration (INASP) of the Government of the Argentine Republic

Her activities as lecturer are also remarkable, which she has developed in Europe, Asia and the Three Americas thanks to her fluency in French, English, Italian, Armenian and Spanish.

Her lectures deal with many different subjects, such as Religious and Folk Armenian Music; The woman in the history of music; Argentine folk and academic music; Contemporary music in Latin America; XXth century music in Argentina and in the world; History of Music in the world and its relation with society, politics, arts and thought.

Due to her deep knowledge about Armenian religious music she was accepted as a member of the International Society of Musicology; she attended the annual meetings in Ljubljana (1967) where she was appointed to integrate the Consultive Committee and, later on, Secretary of the Board of Council of the International Musicology Society.

Some of her works about ‘Armenian religious music and the neumas from the IVth to Xth centuries’ were presented in International fora, for example at the University of Yale (1968) and the Unesco in Paris and were published in prestigious international magazines such as the Chilean Musical Magazine.

In 1968 she created the International Encounters for Contemporary Music Foundation from which she is the Artistic Director. Following Mtro. Ginastera’s advice, she created this institution – that would take the place of the Latin American Centre of High Musical Studies of the Di Tella Institute – for the promotion of the Argentine contemporary music in her country and in the world.

 The Festival Encuentros have since then become an important forum for the Latin American contemporary music and, from 1979, the Encuentros Foundation is the Argentine Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM).

As a complement to these annual Festivals, Terzian formed the GRUPO ENCUENTROS in 1979 with the purpose to encourage the knowledge, in Argentina and abroad, of the music written by Argentine and Latin American composers as well as that of the most important composers in the world.

The Grupo Encuentros is the only one in Latin American fully devoted de the XXth and XXIst centuries music and one of the few that realizes an important career with more than 320 concerts performed in the most important festivals in the five continents.

The Grupo Encuentros conducted by Terzian, is integrated by mezzosoprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano and also invites other instrumentalists, actors, mimes and dancers according to the performance of the works.

Since 1979 Alicia Terzian is responsible for the Argentine selection of works to submit to the World Music Days organized by the International Society for Contemporary Music and, in the period 1979-2006, in the selection of works submitted to International Rostrum of Composers organized by the International Music Council, Unesco.

In 1985 Terzian was appointed President of the Argentine Music Council – Unesco- having developed until 2005 an intense national and international activity through Seminars and Congresses with the attendance of the most prestigious musicians, educators, musicologists, instrumentalists, composers, orchestra conductors, soloists and chamber groups thus placing her country in the world.

As orchestra conductor, Terzian was in charge of the ‘Ensemble Casella’ in Torino in the winter of 1987.

In 1990 she was elected by unanimity by her colleagues as the Vice President of the International Music Council, Unesco as well as the Secretary and later on, the President of the Three Americas Music Council COMTA (CIM-UNESCO-Paris), this latest appointment was held until 2004.

In 1979-2006 she was the Delegate before the International Rostrum of Composers (UNESCO-CIM-Paris); Director of the National Fund for the Arts in 1985-1989; Artistic Director of CABLEVISION and the broadcastof the programme ‘Musical Encounters with Alicia Terzian’ every Saturday at 21hs during 2 years, having presented the most important Argentine and foreign artists in concerts; ex Vice President of the Women Internacional Council of UNESCO and currently Honorary Member; Vice Secretary of the Union of Composers of Argentina; Permanent General Secretary of the Argentine Association of Musicology; founder of the Argentine Branch of the International Federation of Musical Youths; founder of the Latin American Council of Music; member of National and Municipal juries of Composition and Musicology Contests; Jury in Argentina for the selection of Works to present in the World Music Days Festival organized by the ISCM (International Society for Contemporary Music) from 1979 until now; Jury of many Contests organized by the Superior National Conservatory of Paris since 1983, International Jury in the Festival of Ibagué, Colombia; International Jury of Composition National Contest in Colombia (1998); Jury of the 2nd Ibero American Prize of Music in Oporto, Portugal (1998); Jury of Sacred Music Contest of Friburg (1995), Jury of Composition in Taiwan (2002), Jury of the International Contest in Orleans (2002,2204, 2006 and 2014).

The Radio Suisse Romande broadcasted in September 2011 a series of one-hour daily auditions from Monday to Fridays devoted to the introduction, analysis and promotion of her works in her creative period 1954-2011.

Concerning her musical creation, Terzian herself recognizes three stages:

The FIRST STAGE from 1954 to 1968 is considered by her as politonal and microtonal.

Microtonalist emerges from her works in this stage as a result of her studies in 1962 on monodic religious Armenian music and its neumas of the IVth to the XXth centuries realized in Venice with Father Dr Leoncio Dayan, musicologist of the Mekhitarist Congregation in St Lazaro Isle.

In this first stage that began with her studies in Alberto Ginastera’s Professorship at the National Conservatory of Music of Argentina, Terzian deepened the study and analysis of the microtonal music as well as the atonalism, the neoclassicism, the concrete and electronic music and experienced a deep impression at the audition of the Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Song of the Adolescents (1956) which opened new creative horizons to her.

She composed many piano works within this stage: Toccata, Danza Criolla, Juegos para Diana. Likewise the series Tres Retratos and Canciones para niños (both for singing and piano upon García Lorca’s poems); Tristeza (poems by Lord Byron) and Madrigal for female choir and soloists.

Microtonalism is found since her beginings in her Concert for violin and orchestra (1954/55) premiered at the Colon Opera House in 1969 by the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Washington Castro and soloist Szymsia Bajour. It is also found in the Three Pieces for strings (1954) premiered in the same year by the Quartett of the Wagneriana Association of Buenos Aires with success of audience and reviews. The composer was 20 years old.

By that time Terzian had got mastership of academic techniques as an outcome of her musical formation with Ginastera and other prestigious Argentine professors.

During this stage she composed theatre music such as ‘El enano’ from Lagervist in 1964 in which Terzian transformed the play into a real musical theatre work.

Her orchestral work ‘Movimientos contrastantes’ (1964) was premiered at the Teatro Massimo of Palermo, Italy conducted by José Rodríguez Faure with great success of reviews. This symphonic work was premiered in Argentina and later was scheduled as ballet choreographed by Lia Labaronne under the name of ‘Hacia la luz’ performed by the Teatro Municipal Gral San Martín Ballet directed by Oscar Araiz. It was also scheduled in 1965 for the 9 de Julio Gala organized by the Teatro Argentino of La Plata City.

Terzian also composed ‘Movimientos’ for band which would be performed by the Municipal Symphony Band of Buenos Aires conducted by Mariano Drago and many European conductors.

In 1958 Terzian began her radio auditions devoted to promote the Argentina contemporary music by Radio Provincia of Buenos Aires and, later on, by Radio Municipal, Radio Nacional and finally Radio Cultura Musical, ending this activity in 2010.

On this first creative stage Terzian organized the Musical Youths in Argentina, the Musical Education Society, the Society of Musicology and integrated the Executive Committee of the Argentine Music Council. Her aim was to achieve international projection and broader possibilities of promotion of Argentine musicians.

In April 1968 she started the ‘ENCOUNTERS WITH THE ARGENTINE MUSIC’ which would be a weekly series of presentations of works written by Argentine composers at the Leopoldo Lugones Hall of the Teatro Municipal Gral San Martín. Each audition would be followed by a debate diected by Napoleón Cabrera with outstanding intellectuals, historians, writters, poets, philosophers, painters, discussing about contemporary music, culture, art in Argentina.

This would be the begining of what is today the FUNDACION ENCUENTROS INTERNACIONALES DE MUSICA CONTEMPORANEA (International Encounteres for the Contemporary Music) that will celebrate 45 years uninterrupted of concerts in 2013.

During all these years the Festival counted with the participacion of important Argentine and foreign artists, with world premieres, master classes, seminars, composition contests, international meetings with top level personalities.

The SECOND STAGE OR CREATIVE STAGE was called ‘Cosmic Era’ by Terzian due to landing of man on the Moon in 1969.

This new period opened with ‘Shantiniketan’ (solo flute, recitation and dance or mimes) where she works the quarts of tone definitely and through all the work.

The next important work of this period is ‘Carmen criaturalis’ (1970) for horn, string orchestra and percussion, commissioned by Austrian composer and orchestra conductor Friederich Cerha for his introduction as conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires and premiered at the Colón Opera House.

 1971 was an important year for her musical work since Terzian created a show called MUSIDANZA VISION based on visual and kinetic arts organized by Fundación Lorenzutti in the Museum of Modern Arts of Buenos Aires where the most important works by visual artists were exhibited.

 Terzian’s idea of gathering music, visual arts and dance in this project produced original works for each one of the artworks exhibited and which were danced by Susana Zimmerman. The show achieved great success of audiences and reviews during the three days of performances.

Terzian herself decided to save the works that originated the show and had them photographed. There were over 700 pictures, among them 320 were chosen and divided in two parts (as it was premiered at the exhibition) which she called ‘SINFONIA VISUAL EN DOS MOVIMIENTOS’. The same project was continued with the projection of slides together with the music shaping a work that allowed her to show it in many parts of the world in successful tournées.

This work was selected by the ICES Festival 72 organizers to perform it in London. In the same year, Terzian was invited to present it in Latin America: Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. The Latin American reviews enhanced the originality of the project in extensive articles.

The ‘Sinfonía Visual’ was also presented in Europa succesfully in 1974 and 1976.

Coming back to 1972, Terzian composed a mixed work: instrumental and electroacoustic that called CYBERNETIC TOWER which idea had been proposed by a Mexican arquitect who had the project to design a Cybernetic Tower in the capital city.

This interested Terzian, which design she could see and thus composed an instrumental, concret and electronic musical work…. But the Tower was never built, only remaining Terzian’s work as a lonely testimony.

In 1975 Terzian composed ‘Cuaderno de imágenes’ for organ, premiered by Adelma Gomez in the Festival of Morelia, Mexico. Since then the work was performed by the prestigious organist in her tournees in Europe and Russia.

In 1978 Terzian created the GRUPO ENCUENTROS to respond an invitation from the Biennial of Zagreb, realizing their first international tournee that started in Portugal, continued through Europe to Armenia, performing in the most important festivals: Gulbenkian of Lisboa, Auditorium of Radio Spain in Madrid, Auditorium Radio France in Paris, Biennial of Zagreb, Spring in Praga, etc.

Her work ‘Voces’ for mezzo, piano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and tape (1978) in which she uses fragments of different works written by the composer from 1954 to 1977, would be premiered in this first European tournée of Grupo Encuentros and performed in later international tournées.

In this second stage Terzian organized the Argentine Tribune of Composers (TRINAC) which aim was to encourage the creation and reward the best works of Argentine composers to submit them to the International Rostrum of Composers organized by the CIM/Unesco in the Paris seat, attending delegates from 40 countries.

One year later, in 1980, Terzian organized the Tribune of Electroacoustic Music (TRIME) with the same aim of rewarding electroacoustic works written by Argentine composers submitting them to International Tribunes organized by the Unesco, as well as present them in the annual Festivals of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM).

In this period Terzian organized definitely the THREE AMERICAS MUSIC COUNCIL which is the representation of the American Continent before the International Music Council, a titanic task which resulted in the renewal of the existent Music Councils of Canada, USA, Chile, Uruguay and the organization of new ones in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, República Dominicana, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Brazil.

This project included the organization of International meetings – that Terzian accomplished thanks to the IMC, European and Asian countries’s support – in Cuba, Argentina, Mexico and Paraguay to give continuity and projection of these Latin American countries in the world.

In 1981 Terzian composed the music for ‘BESTIELA’ of de la Marigny which would be on the billboards as a musical theatre work for many months.

In 1982 Terzian presented ‘BERTOLD BRECHT EN EL TEATRO COLON’ premiered in the series organized by Teatro Abierto – Open Theatre, a struggle held by theatre actors and writters against the militarism dominating Argentina at that time.

Teatro Abierto was an action realized by theatre actors of Buenos Aires, inaugurated on July 28, 1981 in the Teatro del Picadero. One week later, a commando of the dictatorship burnt the hall.

The attack caused the indignation of the cultural environment but Teatro Abierto was able to continue in the Teatro Tabaris and other theatres of Buenos Aires. There were three editions of Teatro Abierto under the military regime (1981-1982-1983). Their founders: Roberto Cossa, Osvaldo Dragún and Mauricio Kartun opened the doors of their project to other disciplines, and from 1982, they would join Dance, Poetry, Music and Cinema. Thus Terzian participated as composer in many musical theatre shows, among them the above mencioned ‘Bertold Brecht in the Teatro Colón’ which achieved great success.

In 1983 Terzian was called by the dancer and choreographer Iris Scaccheri and wrote the music for JUANA REINA DE CASTILLA Y ARAGON, ballet that would be presented in the Teatro Coliseo with success, filmed by Cablevision, broadcasted by the same TV channel y afterwards presented by the same dancer in her subsequent tournées in Europe.

The THIRD STAGE of Terzian’s musical creation spans from 1986 to 2003. She callsl it ‘Space Age’ and one of her achievements was her work ‘Canto a mí misma’ (1986). In this orchestral piece Terzian deals with the sound of the whole orchestra by means of transformation of real time with electronic equipment and forming what she defines as ‘sonorous dome’ – loudspeakears surrounding the audience in the concert hall.

Microphones placed in front of each one of the musicians capture the sound which is transformed electronically through a 16-channel deck with delay placed at the rear side of the hall. The original sound of the orchestra and at the same time transformed through the semicircle of loudspeakears will reach the audience who will be ‘invaded’ by the music from the stage and from the loudspeakers.

The composer achieves a real transformation of her vision of the created music: ‘spatialization’ and transformation of the orchestral sound that reaches the audience through a sonorous dome, joining the written music to the spoken voices, since every musician (or else a choir) have to read a different poem, said in the language of the country of performance.

CANTO A MI MISMA (1986) was premiered at the Colon Opera House by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires conducted by Stewart Bedford.

Later on, it was selected for the Festival of Warsaw under the baton of Dutch conductor and composer Ton de Leeuw and in Great Britain by the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra and Choir conducted by Manuel Prestamo.

In the period 1985-1989 Terzian was Director of the National Fund for the Arts of Argentina engaged to the support fo Argentine musicians through the edition of books, scores, CDs, commission of works, prizes of composition, subsidies to travel abroad, purchase of the own studio, musical instruments, etc.

Among other important musical works from this stage, we can name the music for the theatre work ‘El otro Judas’ by Abelardo Castillo (1987) in which Terzian uses choirs, recorded music, actors that sing…..

Other works are ‘Buenos Aires me vas a matar’ for piano, actors ant tape written in 1990 commissioned by the Aspekte Salzburg Festival and premiered in Vienna in the same year.

In 1992 she composed ‘Off the edge’ for baritone and string orchestra commissioned by the Symphony Orchestra of Grenoble (France) and ‘Yagua Ya Yuca’ for solo percussion, a commission from the Conservatory of Freiburg (Germany). In 1996 she composed ‘Oda a Vahan’ for piano and tape, commissioned by the American pianist Sahan Arzruni which was premiered in New York in the same year. In 1998 was ‘Tango blues’ commissioned by the Dutch pianist Marcel Worms and in 2000, at the request of Adelma Gomez, Terzian composed ‘Ofrenda a Bach’ premiered by this outstanding organist.

In this stage, as in the previous ones, Terzian shows herself straightforward and frank, coherent and faithful to her trajectory: she expreses herself in the language of her time, but does not resign a lyric, rhythmical and emotional identity marked both by her Armenian origine and her deep Argentine feeling.

The FOURTH STAGE which Terzian calls MYSTIC PERIOD opens in 2004.

In this stage she composed ‘Canto a Vahan’ (2004) for mezzo and chamber ensemble, inspired on a text written by the Armenian poetess Josrovatujt from the VIIIth century, premiered by the Grupo Encuentros in an Extraordinary concert in the Colon Opera House Big Hall.

This is followed by a series of works for different soloists, percussion ensembles, solo voices, instrumental duets, different strings, series that the composer names THE SOUND OF THE EARTH, in which are gathered the monodic religious Armenian music of the IVth-Xth centuries and the sounds of the authentic native music of Argentina always related to the microtonalism, a deep emotionality and a very personal sense of melody and rhythm.

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