Cassuto, Álvaro (Leon)

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Cassuto, Álvaro (Leon)

Portuguese conductor and composer; b. Oporto, Nov. 17, 1938. He studied violin and piano as a small child, then took courses in composition with Artur Santos and Lopes Graça. In the summers of 1960 and 1961 he attended classes in new music in Darmstadt with Ligeti, Messiaen, and Stock-hausen, and at the same time had instruction in conducting with Karajan. He further studied conducting with Pedro de Freitas Branco in Lisbon and Franco Ferrara in Hilversum. In 1964 he took his Ph.D. in law at the Univ. of Lisbon and in 1965 his M.A. in conducting at the Vienna Academy of Music. In 1969 he received the Koussevitzky Prize at Tangle wood. He served as an asst. conductor of the Gulbenkian Orch. in Lisbon (1965–68) and with the Little Orch. in N.Y. (1968–70). In 1970 he was appointed permanent conductor of the National Radio Orch. of Lisbon, and in 1975 was elected its music director. In 1974 he was appointed a lecturer in music and conductor of the Sym. Orch. of the Univ. of Calif, at Irvine, remaining there until 1979. From 1979 to 1985 he was music director of the R.I. Phil, in Providence, and from 1981 to 1987 the music director of the National Orchestral Assn. in N.Y. In 1987 he founded the Nova Filarmonia Portuguesa in Lisbon, which he conducted until 1993. In 1993 he founded the Portuguese Sym. Orch. in Lisbon at the behest of the Portuguese government, serving as its artistic director and principal conductor. He also was guest conductor of numerous orchs. in Europe, South America, and the U.S. A progressive-minded and scholarly musician, Cassuto amassed a large repertoire of both classical and modern works, displaying a confident expertise. He is also a composer of several orch. works in a modern idiom, as well as of chamber pieces.


Sinfonia breve No. 1 (Lisbon, Aug. 29, 1959) and No. 2 (1960); Variations for Orch. (1961); Permutations for 2 Orchs. (1962); String Sextet (1962); Concertino for Piano and Orch. (1965); Cro (mo-no)fonia for 20 String Instruments (1967); Canticum in Tenebris for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1968); Evocations for Orch. (1969); Circle for Orch. (1971); In the Name of Peace, opera (1971); Song of Loneliness for 12 Players (1972); To Love and Peace, symphonic poem (1973); Homage to My People, suite for Band, on Portuguese folk songs (1977); Return to the Future for Orch. (1985); 4 Seasons or Movements for Piano and Orch. (1987).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire