Alberto Ginastera. Among the leading lights of 20th-century concert music in South America, Argentina's Alberto Ginastera is acknowledged for his successful blending of indigenous music with the more rigorous elements of European art music. In a career extending over more than half a century, Ginastera would eventually leave behind the folk idiom and write in more contemporary styles, even adopting the twelve-tone system in his later scores. His most frequently played works, not surprisingly, are from the earlier period of his career, and they are reminiscent of the "folkloric" music of other composers who mined the riches of Latin American source material. Ginastera's Estancia , written in on a commission from American Ballet Caravan, was intended as a "ballet in one act and five scenes based on Argentine country life," and originally including spoken and sung elements.
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Alberto Ginastera b. Buenos Aires, 11 April ; d. Los trabadores agricolas The land workers 2. Danza del trigo Wheat dance 3. Los peones de hacienda The Cattle Men 4. The story of the ballet is built around a love triangle. A city boy meets a beautiful ranch girl and is entranced.
She however considers him a weakling in comparison to the manly gauchos horsemen who work on her father's estancia. The city boy follows her to the ranch, determined to win her heart away from the gauchos. Ginastera wrote this ballet very early in his career, barely three years after his graduation from the National Conservatory in Buenos Aires. Lincoln Kirstein, director of the American Ballet Caravan which was traveling in South America, heard Ginastera's graduation piece and was so impressed that he commissioned a ballet for his company to perform the following year.
Estancia was the happy result. During these early years Ginastera was fascinated with Argentinean folk song, and Estancia 's score is filled with near quotes of actual folk tunes. These characteristic rhythms, originally imported from Europe by the 16th-century conquistadores, give the music a strong sense of location.
National identity is also established by the story itself, featuring the guitar-carrying gaucho, an enduring, idealized national emblem in Argentina. Most of the chords and textures in Estancia imitate the open tunings of the guitar strings and the characteristic ways a gaucho's guitar is played. We hear harmonies based on thirds and exotic mixtures of more than one traditional tonality occurring at one time.
In the first movement,Ginastera uses a colorful orchestra with a large and varied percussion section to paint the burly, bustling life of a land worker. Here the shifting triple rhythms are wild and fierce, musically suggesting the machismo of the estancia's workers and the rough and tumble nature of their everyday work life. The second dance displays a sensuous use of brilliant orchestration. This movement is calm, lyrical and almost impressionistic because of the transparent ways Ginastera combines the individual color of each orchestral sound.
It eloquently suggests the joy of blossoming intimacy in a scene of natural beauty. The third movement emphasizes rhythm once again, but rhythm that is less predictable, more asymmetrical. The brass and percussion sections are prominent. The main theme is introduced by the French horns playing in unison.
The last few moments of this movement are dominated by an extended timpani solo in a competitive conversation with the low brass section playing fragments of the original theme. Finally, the timpani and brass come together and restate the entire theme to end the movement in triumphant unity.
A Malambo is a quick and vigorous Argentinean folk dance in which men compete to demonstrate their agility and machismo. The dance itself is a series of justas or competitive "anything you can do, I can do better" moments. The "winner" is the last man to remain standing. The movement begins with high piccolo flutterings; then the guitar-like strum of the piccolo line struggles with the underlying accompaniment. The same theme repeats over and over, culminating with a breathless, frenzied, wickedly fast trumpet solo.
Each time the trumpet theme is heard, the accompanying music is slightly varied, so that the web of sound becomes increasingly complex. Listen for the characteristic sounds of nature that occur throughout this dance, which is ideally performed at night by firelight in an open setting.
A masterful thumb roll on the tambourine mimics an insistent cicada; the entire horn section interjects a flurry of elephant peals; the flutes interrupt the melody with the unmistakable twitter of birds.
Ginastera finished his ballet Estancia on time in , but Kirstein's group had disbanded. The composer had to wait until to see the work staged as a ballet.
Meanwhile, to save the music from extinction, Ginastera extracted this suite from the ballet, creating an invigorating orchestral piece that has won its own popularity. Duke Ellington b. Washington D. Spring 2. Meander 3. Giggling Rapids 4. Lake 5. Vortex 6. Riba 7. His greatest gift as a composer, however, may have been his ability to turn the unique sound qualities of each individual in his band into a coherent and ingenious whole. He taught himself orchestration by experimenting with the band, coming up with tonal effects and unusual voicings of chords to create a highly distinctive soundscape.
Widely regarded as the most important composer in jazz history, he was also one of the first jazz composers to concern himself with writing down compositions and utilizing recognizable musical forms in jazz. Around , as big band and swing music dwindled in public favor, Ellington began to devote more time to composing extended, multi-movement concert suites.
In these longer works, his goal was to marry the spontaneity and characteristic rhythms of jazz with the lush instrumentation and extended classical forms of traditional symphonic music. By Ellington was well known for championing the combination of jazz and symphonic idioms.
Early that year he was commissioned to create a ballet score in collaboration with the acclaimed choreographer, Alvin Ailey. However, coordinating the schedules of two famous, busy men was not easy. Ellington's band traveled all around the country and performed two or three sets an evening. His preferred work time was from am to am. Alvin Ailey was at the height of his popularity as well and had his own complicated schedule.
When ballet rehearsal began at Lincoln Center, with just three weeks to opening, only six of the ballet's eleven principal sections were finished and available.
Ellington walked in at the last minute with a recording of the other sections of the ballet, but it was too late. Ellington's intention was that the work would "celebrate birth, life, and rebirth.
The work achieved immediate popular and critical success. There he is, rolling around from one side to the other on the floor, up and down, back and forth, until he sees the kitchen door, and looks out into that big backyard. The lake is beautiful and serene. The whole situation compounds itself into an emotional violence A whirlpool, itself an experience in which of course, you must really immerse yourself to appreciate the hazards.
Becoming ever more mature, even noble, At the delta, there are two cities, one on each side, and there is always something on one side of the river that you cannot get on the other. Sometimes it's bootleg booze, or hot automobiles, or many other things. Village Virgins. One of two cities the river passes through before plunging into the mother, her majesty, the sea. Spring includes an improvisatory piano solo that playfully uses interesting, varied scale patterns that keep the listener suspended between major and minor tonalities.
Meander begins with a long, lush flute cadenza and then uses blue notes and chromatic harmonies to suggest the child venturing into the vast outside world. In Giggling Rapids the child's exploration is represented by the syncopated rhythms of a jazz waltz. Lyrical melody above an easy, lazy accompaniment in Latin rhythms represents the child's slow maturing in Lake , while storm-like, heavy xylophone and low brass runs suggest the hazards of life each man must face in his own private Vortex.
Riba is a standard blues, while Village Virgins presents a variation on that blues, symbolizing the choices to be made in any life. Praising The River , the Saturday Review wrote that it is "f looded with the glow of humanity, the beacon of brotherhood, carefree, frolic, both reverence and irreverence and mass moments of great architectural splendor. In , the Pulitzer Prize Committee awarded him a posthumous citation to mark the th anniversary of his birth.
Serge Prokofiev b. Sontsovka, Russia April 23, ; d. In Prokofiev began discussions with the Kirov Ballet about composing a lyrical ballet for them. The Kirov requested that he use Romeo and Juliet as his subject matter, but before the work was completed, the company backed out, citing the "overwhelming complexity" of Prokofiev's music.
The choreographers protested, until finally the Bolshoi refused to perform the work, calling the composer's music 'impossible to dance to. Recently, additional music has been found that suggests a different history, with Prokofiev first writing a happy ending. Ultimately the ballet opened in Brno in , and the work was not staged in Russia until Rehearsals at the Kirov were marked by shouting matches with the choreographer and curses from the dancers, baffled by the score's tricky changes of meter.
Meanwhile, Prokofiev had decided to arrange some orchestral suites from the ballet to help disseminate the music. All three orchestral suites, concert pieces performed with a large orchestra, were created by Prokofiev himself, Suites 1 and 2 in , Suite 3 in The movements in each were arranged into well-balanced sequences with no attempt to retain the order of the ballet's story. Some of the movements are heavily edited and some include elements of two or three different scenes from the ballet, with newly composed transitions.
For today's performance our conductor has chosen to incorporate movements from all three suites. Prokofiev was particularly good at composing music to portray character. The Montagues and the Capulets comes from Suite 2 and portrays the feuding between two powerful families. The music, danced by the knights and ladies of the two families, is imposing, almost intimidating.
Its big, bold musical gestures are interrupted only by a short interlude of quiet grace where Juliet Capulet dances with her betrothed amidst the mayhem. The broad, expansive melody for the strings suggests a more complex woman, capable of tragic depth of character. The next movement, a Dance from Suite 2, is taken from the music played during the arrival of the guests at the Capulet's party.
Next we hear Romeo at Juliet's before Partin g from Suite 2. Romeo at Juliet's Grave from Suite 2 follows, taken from the Epilogue. Romeo, ignorant of the Friar's plot and believing his true love to be dead, secretly visits the Capulet family tomb and sees Juliet's seemingly lifeless body.
Danza Finale - Malambo
Alberto Ginastera b. Buenos Aires, 11 April ; d. Los trabadores agricolas The land workers 2. Danza del trigo Wheat dance 3. Los peones de hacienda The Cattle Men 4.
Malambo (from Estancia)
He is considered one of the most important 20th-century classical composers of the Americas. Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires to a Catalan father and an Italian mother. Ginastera studied at the Williams Conservatory in Buenos Aires, graduating in He held a number of teaching posts. In Ginastera moved back to the United States, and in to Europe.