Alberto Ginastera's three piano sonatas: A reflection of the composer and his country
De Los Cobos, Sergio
Doctor of Musical Arts
The study of Ginastera's three Piano Sonatas can be viewed as an example of the composer's general development. The historical context in which Ginastera lived is an important departure point. His native country, Argentina, was originally the home of the Incas who practiced music, although at a primitive stage. The first foreign influence was the Spanish colonization in 1516. After Argentina's independence in 1816, the figure of the gaucho appeared; it was a legend of the pampas and a constant source of inspiration for the Argentine nationalistic culture. A new European immigration further reinforced western music in Argentina and inspired the country in its search for a cultural identity. Ginastera's output is often catalogued in three periods: Objective Nationalism, Subjective Nationalism, and Neo-Expressionism. A parallel can be drawn between Ginastera's evolution as a composer and Argentina's development as a cultural entity. The first Sonata shows the influence of Bartok and Stravinsky as well as Argentine folk elements, among which we recognize the guitar symbolism. The second Sonata goes back to the pre-Columbian era, inspired by primitive Indian melodies and rhythms. To these Ginastera adds an advanced atonal language, including chromatic clusters and microtone effects, thus bringing the dissonance to an extreme level. The third Sonata mixes both sources of inspiration. As a synthesis of the previous two sonatas, it shows a tendency towards balance and greater economy. All three works show an evolution, but also reflect similarities: the importance of the third interval, the melodic exaltation, the strong rhythms, and the sense of magic.
Biographies; Latin American history; Music