There comes a time in the life of any composer, when you start looking back at your roots, upbringing, and the many factors that facilitated and motivated your chosen career. And so, as I look back to the time when I was 12 years old and incredibly fortunate of having been chosen to study at the National Conservatory in Argentina, which made it possible for me to enjoy the best musical education possible.
Many years later, I realised that everything would have been very different indeed if my family had been forced to pay for my tuition. Given their financial circumstances, I very much doubt that my life would have been in music. But luckily for me, admission to, what was at the time, the most prestigious music conservatory in South-America, was obtained by merit alone and continues to be so to this very day.
During my time at the National Conservatory, one of my most important music tutors was undoubtedly composer Carlos Guastavino, who taught us harmony. I remember him saying, during one of his lessons, how strange it was that no Argentine composer had ever written the country's national symphonic dances, in the same way Dvorak had written his Slavonic Dances and Bartok his Hungarian Dances for their respective countries; especially considering how many beautiful dances and airs exist in Argentina. He said he didn’t feel compelled to write them himself, as he wanted to concentrate on his piano compositions, but he was wondering if any of us, his students, would ever feel the urge to do so, sometime in the future.
And now, more than 50 years later, I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to do just that.
This work represents my unreserved gratitude to Argentina, my country of birth, for the start in life it gave me, which enabled me ultimately to have a fulfilling life in music. For that reason, I dedicate my Argentine Dances to the people of Argentina.
A R G E N T I N E D A N C E S
A collection of fourteen symphonic works, inspired by different traditional dances and airs from Argentina, showcasing the most characteristic and unique rhythms and moods of this South-American country.
No. 1: Gato & Huayno [4:35]
This dance was inspired by two traditional Argentine dances, the Gato and the Huayno. The Gato is originally from the Cuyo region in the West and North-West of Argentina. Some musicologists suggest that the Gato originated in Peru, but opinions among experts are divided. The Huayno, a traditional dance with strong pentatonic roots, originated in the Andes region.
No.2: Carnavalito & Chamamé [3:30]
The second dance was inspired by two traditional Argentine dances, the Carnavalito and the Chamamé. The Carnavalito originated in the Altiplano region of the Andes, which includes the provinces of Jujuy and Salta. The Carnavalito’s popularity extends to other provinces in the North of Argentina. The Chamamé is originally from the North-East and the Mesopotamia region of the country.
No.3: Tango [4:00]
The third dance was inspired by the widely popular Tango, which originated during the 1880s in the impoverished port area of the La Boca district in Buenos Aires, where the composer grew up. Both, a partner as well as a social dance, the Tango is the combination of three historically preceding dances, the Candombe, the Milonga, and the Spanish-Cuban Habanera. The Tango was frequently practised in the bars and brothels of the local port of the Argentine capital and spread from there to the rest of the world, making it one of the most popular dances in history.
No.4: Cumbia Argentina & Chamarrita [3:00]
The fourth dance was inspired by two traditional dances, the Cumbia Argentina and the Chamarrita. The Cumbia, sometimes called Cumbia Villera, has its origins in the slums of Buenos Aires and has Colombian roots. The Cumbia Villera is intrinsically related to the well-known Murga, a celebratory and very popular form of a street dance containing Cumbia-related rhythms, usually performed during the carnival season as well as during some national festivities in Argentina. The Chamarrita is a musical form originally from the Rio de la Plata region.
No.5: Malambo & Cueca Salteña [3:50]
The fifth dance was inspired by two traditional Argentine dances, the Malambo and the Cueca Salteña. The Malambo has its roots in the La Pampa and southern regions of Argentina, while the Cueca Salteña, as denoted by its name, is originally from Salta, a beautiful and picturesque province in the North of Argentina.
No.6: Payada & Canto [3:50]
The sixth dance was inspired by the Payada and the Canto, both originally from the La Pampa and southern regions. The Payada is an improvised recitation in rhyme, performed by two gauchos, competing against each other in a vocal, public duel. While singing, the singers accompany themselves by playing their respective guitars.
No.7: Chotis Litoral & Chaya Riojana [3:15]
The seventh dance was inspired by two traditional Argentine dances, the Chotis Litoraleño and the Chaya Riojana. The Chotis Litoraleño is originally from the Mesopotamia region of Argentina, while the Chaya Riojana, as indicated by its name, is originally from the semi-arid mountain ranges and agricultural valleys of the province of La Rioja.
No.8: Huella & Takirari [3:30]
The eigth dance was inspired by two traditional Argentine dances, the Huella and the Takirari. The Huella, originally from the southern region of Argentina, is a local interpretation of the European 18th-century Minuet and Gavotte. The Takirari on the other hand originated in the provinces of Jujuy and Chaco in the North of Argentina and is popular in some parts of Bolivia, too.
No.9: Baguala & Vidala [3:25]
The ninth dance was inspired by two traditional musical Argentine forms, the Baguala and the Vidala. Both are popular airs, originally from the North-West of the country.
No.10: Milonga & Candombe [3:15]
The tenth dance was inspired by two traditional Argentine dances, the Milonga and the Candombe. The Milonga is originally from the La Pampa and southern regions of Argentina, and the Candombe had its beginnings in the capital Buenos Aires, specifically in the district of San Telmo, La Boca, and Montserrat. The Candombe is also very popular in Uruguay.
No. 11: Chacarera & Triunfo [5:30]
The eleventh dance was inspired by two Argentine dances, the Chacarera and the Triunfo. The Chacarera originated in the province of Santiago del Estero in the North, while the Triunfo has its roots in the La Pampa and southern regions of the country.
No.12: Cielito, Pericón & Copla Argentina [4:15]
The twelfth dance was inspired by three different traditional Argentine dances, the Cielito, the Pericón, and the Copla Argentina. The Cielito is originally from the La Pampa and Buenos Aires region, as is the Pericón, and the Copla Argentina has its roots in the North West of the country.
No.13: Escondido & Bailecito [5:15]
The thirteenth dance was inspired by two traditional Argentine dances, the Escondido and the Bailecito. The Escondido is originally from the North of the country and its popularity extends as far as Bolivia, while the Bailecito originated in the northern regions of Argentina.
No.14: Zamba & Vidalita [5:15]
The last symphonic dance was inspired by two traditional and contrasting Argentine dances, the Zamba and the Vidalita, both originally from the North of the country.
Piccolo | Flutes | Oboes | Clarinets
Bassons | Horns | Trumpets (2) | Trombones | Bass Tromboe | Tuba
Timpani | Tenor Drum | Bass Drum | Cymbals (crash, suspended) | Triangle | Claves]
Total duration: approximately 60 min.