Becerra–Schmidt, Gustavo (1925–)

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Becerra–Schmidt, Gustavo (1925–)

Gustavo Becerra-Schmidt (b. 26 August 1925), Chilean composer. Becerra was born in Temuco and studied at the National Conservatory and at the Faculty of Musical Arts, University of Chile, under the guidance of Pedro Humberto Allende and Domingo Santa Cruz. He taught composition and musical theory from 1953 to 1956. From 1958 to 1961 he was the director of the renowned Institute of Musical Extension and its research publication, La revista musical chilena. In 1969 he was elected to the Fine Arts Academy of Chile and two years later received the Premio Nacional de Arte. For a number of years he resided in Europe, serving as the cultural attaché at the Chilean embassy in Bonn. In 1974 he became a professor of composition at the University of Oldenburg (Germany).

At the beginning of his career Becerra cultivated a neoclassical style, but soon started using more contemporary techniques, including dodecaphonism. The pointillism he practiced during the late 1950s and the 1960s gave way to a more romantic Klangfarbenmelodie (tone-color melody) and the use of what Becerra called a "complementary polychordal system." His String Quartets nos. 4, 5, and 6 (1958, 1959, 1960) and his Symphony no. 2 (1955–1958) are good examples of those techniques. Becerra also tried to combine more accessible musical elements into his works, like Chilean folk music and Javanese music, which he used with very modern devices.

During the 1960s Becerra experimented with aleatoric techniques, as in his Symphony no. 3 (1960), the Guitar Concertos nos. 1 and 2 (1964, 1968), and his oratorio Macchu Picchu (1966), with words by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Becerra composed works of pure experimental theater, such as Juegos (Games) for piano, Ping-Pong balls, and live recording (1966). Other important works by Becerra include String Quartet no. 7 (1961); Quintet for piano and string quartet (1962); a leftist political composition Chile 1973, for voice and small orchestra (1973–1974); Trio for flute, violin, and piano (1958); Saxophone Quartet (1959); Llanto por el hermano solo for choir (1966); Responso para José Miguel Carrera for voice, wind quintet, piano, and percussion (1967); Morula, gastrulay blastula (1969), for piano and tape (1969); Provocation (1972), a minidrama; Parsifae (1973), an opera; and Diez trozos para ocho solistas (1977).

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


Primer festival de música de América y España (1964), pp. 59, 63.

Luis Merino Montero, "Los cuartetos de Gustavo Becerra," in Revista musical chilena 19 (1965): 44-78.

John Vinton, ed., Dictionary of Contemporary Music (1974), p. 61.

Gérard Béhague, Music in Latin America: An Introduction (1979), pp. 320-321; New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980).

                                        Alcides Lanza

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Becerra–Schmidt, Gustavo (1925–)

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