Argentinian, Alberto Ginastera, is considered to be one of the most influential and original South American composers of the 20th century. He was born in Buenos Aires on April 11, 1916, and like many of his countrymen, Ginastera’s heritage is a European mix. His father immigrated from Catalan, and his mother was Italian.
Ginastera began studying piano when he was seven at the Williams Conservatory in Buenos Aires, and later he graduated from the National Conservatory with honors. As a musician and composer, Alberto Ginastera always set high standards for himself. He destroyed most of his early compositions because he wanted to be remembered only for his best work. In 1945 he spent two years in the United States where he studied with renowned American composer, Aaron Copland. After being exposed to Copeland’s music and style of composition, his own work matured and became even more complex.
Ginastera’s work resonated with his South American audiences. Many of his compositions incorporate nationalistic themes inspired by the Gaucho, the landless horseman of Argentina’s plains. His music is a unique, multifaceted mixture of old Argentine rhythms and folk music combined with modern composition. His work contains every musical genre, including, three operas, several ballets, orchestral works, many concertos, and chamber music. He also wrote pieces for the theater and eleven movie scores.Ginastera’s compositions are divided into three stylistic periods which he called Objective Nationalism, Subjective Nationalism, and Neo-Expressionism. In each phase of Ginastera’s career his music becomes even more original, but it always retains strong, pulsating Argentinian rhythms which are his trademark.
Many of Alberto Ginastera’s fifty-five compositions, including Pampeana No. 3, Popul Vuh for orchestra, and his Piano Sonata No. 1 stand as landmarks of Latin-American artistic creation, earning him a place among the greatest Latin American composers of the twentieth century.