Born: April 5, 1912 Died: October 28, 2000
A prominent representative of twentieth century Argentine music, Guastavino is recognized for his unique melodic gift and characteristic charm. Approachable, intriguing, and refreshing, Guastavino's music, which includes songs, piano pieces, chamber music, and orchestral compositions, in many ways celebrates the rich cultural tradition and physical beauty of his country. Guastavino started his musical education with piano lessons. After studying chemical engineering, he was awarded a grant in 1938 to study at the National Conservatory in Buenos Aires. However, he decided against entering the Conservatory, preferring private lessons in piano and composition. In Buenos Aires, Guastavino quickly became known as a composer, his works attracting the attention of Argentine and foreign performers. In 1948, a British Council grant enabled Guastavino to travel to England, where he spent two years, performing his songs and piano compositions. In 1949, the BBC Symphony Orchestra played his Romances argentinos (3). Guastavino's visit to England was followed by trips to several other countries, including China and the Soviet Union. Many of Guastavino's best-known works date from the 1940s, compositions such as Gato (1940), for piano; Canciones argentinas (4) (1949), as well as the immensely popular songs Se equivoco la paloma (1941) and La rosa y el sauce (1942). During the 1960s and 1970s, Guastavino devoted most of his time to composing and teaching. Working with Leon Benaros, a noted Argentine poet, Guastavino composed some 60 songs, which exemplify his fine lyricism and descriptive powers, particularly in songs about nature. In 1975, however, possibly discouraged by his declining popularity, Guastavino stopped composing. Fortunately, he returned to composition in 1987, encouraged by Carlos Vilo, leader of a chamber ensemble, who was interested in performing Guastavino's song and other works. Guastavino's fruitful collaboration with Vilo's group lasted until 1992, when he stopped composing for good.