The goucho, a source of inspiration for Ginastera
Alberto Ginastera was an Argentinian composer who wrote in a classical style influenced by south American melodies and rhythms. He studied with American composer Aaron Copland and later, was a teacher to Astor Piazzolla back in Argentina. Ginastera wrote operas, a couple of ballets, chamber music, several works for orchestra, several concertos for harp, piano, violin, and cello (anyone know if these are these widely played? I’d love to hear these), choral/vocal pieces, organ pieces, film music, and solo piano music.
A frequent source of inspiration for Ginastera was the Goucho, the landless native horseman of the plains, a common symbol of Argentina. This influence shows up in “Danzas Argentinas” (Argentine Dances), Op. 2. It’s made up of three short movements: I) Danza del Viejo boyera (“Dance of the Old Herdsman)
II) Danza de la moza donosa (“Dance of the Beautiful Maiden”)
III) Danza del gaucho matrero (“Dance of the Arrogant Cowboy). It’s a vibrant, rich suite, with the opening piece steely and tense; the second, heartbreaking and mysterious; and the last, full of crashing chords, to be played as loudly as possible.
I learned these dances for my Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto music diploma. I remember my teenage years as a blur of practising, and my friend Darren Lee, an extremely devoted amateur classical pianist who was studying theory lessons in the studio next door, says he remembers hearing me pounding out those chords a lot in those days. I was probably working out some teenaged angst.
It was a logical choice to feature Argentine pianist Martha Argerich for the YouTube video. Let the video run; it will automatically proceed to the second and third dance. Her fiery playing style and impeccable clarity are highlighted in this work.
Alberto Evaristo Ginastera was born April 11, 1916 in Buenos Aires and died June 25, 1983, in Geneva, Switzerland.
PS: if you have trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, this should be your alarm clock: