Peru Music

By | December 21, 2021

Peruvian music of the first quarter of the 20th century is characterized by the nationalistic current, which, born in the last part of the 19th century, was inspired by the musical forms of folklore or drew from it the subjects for the works. The music Quechua and the mestiza they manifest themselves to varying degrees in the compositions of D. Alomía Robles (1871-1942), M. Aguirre (1863-1951), L. Pacheco de Céspedes (b.1895), C. Sánchez Málaga (b.1904) and T. Valcárcel (1902-1942). The renewal began in the 1920s, with the arrival of A. Sas-Orchassal (1900-1967) and R. Holzmann (b.1910), two composers of European origin who introduced modern composition techniques to Peru atonalism to serialism, and at the same time favored the recovery of the rich indigenous musical tradition.

Arrived in Lima in 1924 and became director of chamber music concerts of the Academia Nacional de Música y Declamación, Sas-Orchassal, of Franco-Belgian origin, was founder and director of the Academia de Música de Sas-Rosay, and, starting in 1951, director of the Conservatory of Lima. He is the author of a large musical production including compositions for the theater, orchestral and chamber. Of German origin, Holzmann moved to Peru in 1938, maintaining the position of professor of composition at the National Conservatory of Music from 1945 to 1957, where he had as students the major representatives of Peruvian music of the sixties. He made a very notable contribution to ethnomusicology studies. For Peru 2010, please check

Among the pupils of Sas-Orchassal and Holzmann who came to affirm themselves around the middle of the 20th century, some composers of the generation born mostly during the 1920s, such as E. Iturriaga (b.1918), J. Malsio (n. 1924), C. Garrido Lecca (b. 1926), E. Pinilla (b. 1927), F. Pulgar Vidal (b. 1929) and L. La Rosa (b. 1931).

Iturriaga, who studied in Paris in the 1950s with A. Honegger, is one of the most representative figures of the period; to him we owe a strong influence on the formation of the younger generations of composers. Among the significant works, Cancion y muerte de Rolando, for soprano (1947), Suite for orchestra, first prize at the Inter-American Music Festival of Caracas (1957), and Vivencias – Quattro Fragmentos para orquesta (1965), significant for the revival of the technique dodecaphonic. Malsio, who studied with Peru Hindemith at Yale University, and with A. Schönberg in Los Angeles, is the author of compositions in the neoclassical style, such as the Concerto grosso (1945) and the Preludio y Toccata, for piano (1952), followed by atonal works and electronic music. Garrido Lecca, a pupil of D. Santa Cruz at the Conservatory of Santiago del Chile (1950), during the sixties he devoted himself to the dodecaphonic technique, especially in orchestral works such as the Symphony (1960) and the Laudes (1963), and to serialism, at the same time reworking materials of the national musical tradition, as in Elegia a Machu Picchu, for orchestra (1965), Apu Inka Atahualpaman, for soloist, narrator, three choirs and orchestra (1971), Intihuatana, for string quartet (1968), and Antaras, for two string quartets and two basses (1970). Pinilla, who studied with Honegger in Paris and C. Del Campo in Madrid, later followed the courses of B. Blacher at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He also devoted himself to electronic music, working with V. Ussachevsky at the Columbia-Princeton University Electronic Music Center in New York. Among his most significant compositions of the sixties are mentioned Tre Movimenti, for piano and percussion (1961), Canto para Orquesta n. 1 (1963), Festejo, for orchestra (1965), Evoluciones n. 1 (1967) and Prisma, for electronic music (1967). Pulgar Vidal studied dodecaphonic technique with the Colombian R. Pineda-Duque in Bogotà. In many of his compositions he refers to instrumental forms and themes of the national tradition, reworked through the use of modern composition techniques: the 11 choral pieces (1968) and the cantata Apu Inqa (1970) are based on a traditional Peruvian motif. for narrator, choir and orchestra. La Rosa, author of serial works in the early seventies, was also oriented towards the revival and reworking of themes of the national tradition.

Among the major representatives of the avant-garde who have established themselves since the 1960s, and who have dominated the new Peruvian music of the last three decades, are C. Bolaños (b.1931), a pupil of Sas-Orchassal at the Conservatory of Lima and of AE Ginastera at the Latin American Center of Altos Estudios Musicales of the ” Di Tella ” Institute in Buenos Aires; O. Pozzi Escot (b.1931), student at the Academia de Música Sas-Rosay in Lima, and again at the Julliard School of Music in New York and the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg and E. Valcárcel (b.1932), also a student of Ginastera at the Di Tella Institute, and later of Ussachevsky and A. Lanza at the Electronic Music Center of Columbia University in New York (1966-68).

Bolaños is probably the most prominent personality of the new Peruvian music. Among the first Peruvian composers to make use of electronic instruments, he attended courses in electronic music at the RCA Institute of Electronic Technology in New York (1954-63). In charge of composition and audio-visual techniques at the Electronic Music Laboratory of the ” Di Tella ” Institute during the seventies, he composed in particular Intensidad y Altura, for magnetic tape, on texts by C. Vallejo (1964); Espacios I, II and III (1966-68), electronic music for dance; Sialolecibi, for piano and a narrator-mime-actor (1970); and Cancíon sin palabras, electronic music with instrument (1970). His contribution to the diffusion of avant-garde musical theater in his country is very remarkable, as in Divertimento III, for 4 instruments and percussion (1967); to the multimedia representation, as in Alfa-Omega, on biblical texts, for 2 reciting voices, choir, 2 dancers, 3 percussions, instruments, magnetic tape, projections and lights (1967); and I-10-AIFG / Rbt-1, for 3 reciting voices, 3 instruments, 2 percussion, 2 booth operators, 9 slide projectors and magnetic tape from 1968. Pozzi Escot, who moved to the USA, teaching for many years at the New England Conservatory of Music, has kept close contacts with his country, influencing its musical development. Of his compositions we remember Lamentos, for soprano, instruments and percussion (1962). Also Valcárcel, who since 1965 has been a professor of composition at the Conservatory of Lima, has pursued in his compositions a synthesis between indigenous tradition and modern compositional techniques, from dodecaphony to aleatory to electronic music. Among the most significant works with which he has established himself on the musical scene of his country, we remember Espectros I, for flute, viola and piano (1964), and Espectros II, for horn, cello and piano (1966); Aleaciones, for orchestra (1966); Invencion para sonidos electronicos (1966); Hiwana Uru (“The Day of Death”), for 11 instruments (1967); I sing Coral to Tupac Amaru II, for choir, 2 percussions, tape and lights (1968), and Antaras (1968) for flute, percussion and electronic sounds.

Peru Music