Monday, October 26, 2009

Jorge Alvaro Sarmientos (1931-2012)

was a composer and conductor. He obtained his musical education at the National Conservatory in Guatemala with Ricardo Castillo. He was awarded fellowships to study in Paris as well as Buenos Aires. He took conducting classes with Boulez (1969) and Celibidache(1972). From 1972- 1991 he was the musical director for Guatemalan Symphony Orchestra, and has had numerous appearances as a guest conductor in many countries including Latin America, France, the US, Israel, and Japan. He often included his own compositions during these appearances. He taught at the Guatemalan National Conservatory from 1967-1991, Rafael Landivar University from 1968-1980, and Francisco Marroquin University from 1982-1986. His works include: La muerte de un personaje, Hommage, and Ofrenda y gratitude.

Enrique Solares (1910-1995)

was a composer who studied piano and composition in Guatemala. He did go to San Francisco where he was a student of Ernst Bacon. He also studied abroad in Brussels, Prague, and Rome. He was also a Guatemalan diplomat serving time in Brussels, Paris, Madrid, as well as other cities. Many of his musical works received awards, but many were not published. Some of his famous works include: (1943) Te Deum for chorus and organ, (1947) Partita for string orchestra, (1955) Estudio en forma de marcha and Cuatro ofrendas for piano, and (1955) Sonata for solo violin.

Salvador Ley (1907-1985)

was a pianist and composer. He studied piano and theory in Guatemala before going to Berlin for seven years to study piano from George Bertram, and studied theory and composition with Wilhelm Klatte and Hugo Leichtentritt. He returned to Guatemala in 1934 where he served as director of the National Conservatory until 1937, and also served as director from 1944-1953. He then immigrated to the United States where he stayed until 1978. During this time he was a coach, teacher, organist, and promoted Latin-American music. In 1978 when he returned to Guatemala he was awarded a pension in recognition of his musical contributions to the country. He continued to work as a teacher at the National Conservatory and soloist. He did return for concert tours in the US in Florida and New York in 1979 and 1980. His musical compositions were influenced by his time in Germany as well as Guatemalan influences.

Jose Castaneda (1898-1983)

was a theorist, composer, and Guatemalan composer. He spent time studying in Paris and in 1930 founded an orchestra called the Ars Nova in Guatemala City. In 1936 the dictator Jorge Ubico made it the official state orchestra and it was then renamed Orquesta Progresista. He left the orchestra and moved to Europe when it became part of the military. He subsequently returned and became director of the National Conservatory where he also taught. One of his compositions La chalena (1922) is still sung at the university. He published a book on musical theory called Las polaridades del ritmo y del sonido in 1967 which had a notation system for music and choreography. His opera Imagenes de nacimiento, and his ballet La serpiente emplumada were both very successful. He also composed three symphonies and two string quartets.

Ricardo Castillo (1891-1966)

was the brother of Jesus and a Guatemalan composer. He studied in Paris the violin and composition and it was in Paris his works were first published. From 1922-1960 he taught at the National Conservatory in Guatemala City music history, composition, harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration. His work also was motivated by Guatemalan folk music, and Mayan history. His composition included approximately twenty four piano pieces as well as composition for two ballets, Estelas de Tikal and Paal Kaba. He also composed ten orchestra works which had a rich Guatemalan theme.

Jesus Castillo (1877-1946)

was a composer as well as studied the ethnic music of the people of Guatemala. He had particular interest in folk music. He studied piano and composition in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala with Miguel Espinoza and Rafael Guzman respectively. He taught music in Quetzaltenango for thirty years, and collected folk music from different areas of Guatemala during that time. His research on folk music of the region and the natives was published in a book he wrote called La Musica Maya-quiche: Region de Guatemala in 1941. His works were an important part of the marimba (Xylophone) bands of the region, and this has continued into the 2oth century.

Rafael Antonio Castellanos (?-1791)

served as an assistant to his uncle and later was maestro of the cathedral as noted above. He utilized the works of other Italian and Spanish composers to sustain the musical level of the cathedral. He composed a number of religious works in Latin, as well as greater than 170 pieces mainly villancicos (religious songs) done for a particular event. These pieces involved song of one to eight voices and included string instruments as well as woodwind and brass instruments. They are full of harmonies and melodies which include Spanish and Italian features. Many center on religious events such as Christmas, some have a military tone others have a comic one. His work only exists in the Archives of Francisco de Paula Garcia Pelaez in Guatemala City.