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Bolaños, César (1931–)

Bolaños, César (1931–)

The Peruvian avant-garde composer César Bolaños, born June 4, 1931, in Lima, was among the first in his country to write electronic, computer, and music theater works making use of multimedia and indeterminacy in which chance procedures affect both composition and performance. Since 1970 he has concentrated on his research as a musicologist, specializing in ancient and traditional Andean musical instruments and practices, including dance, as well as modern Peruvian music and electronic media. In his native Lima, Bolaños was a pupil of European émigré composer and musicologist Andrés Sas, and in 1958 he went to New York City, studying electronic music at the RCA Institute of Electronic Technology (1960–1963).

His most fruitful period as a composer took place at the Latin American Center for Advanced Musical Studies at the Torcuato di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires (1963–1970), both as student (of composers Luigi Dallapiccola, Alberto Ginastera, Olivier Messiaen, and Luigi Nono) and as professor (of electro-acoustic composition and audiovisual theory and practice). He was also instrumental in the foundation of the center's electronic music laboratory, and created there his first electronic tape composition, Intensidad y altura (1964), based on a poem by César Vallejo. His computer music was influenced by his collaboration with mathematician Mauricio Milchberg, and Bolaños explicitly used the acronym ESEPCO—for estructuras sonora-expresivas por computación (digital sonic-expressive structures)—in the titles of two of his works from 1970. Upon his return to Lima in 1973 he became director of the National Cultural Institute (INC), and also taught at the National Conservatory of Music and Lima University.

Other important compositions by Bolaños include Divertimento no. 3 for chamber ensemble (1967); Alfa-Omega for two narrators, theatrical mixed choir, electric guitar, double bass, two percussionists, two dancers, tape, slide projections, and lights (1967), which utilizes biblical texts; I-10-AIFG/Rbt-1 for three narrators, horn, trombone, electric guitar, two percussionists, two operators for keyboard controlled lights and six radios, nine slide projectors with automatic synchronization, tape, and instrumental amplification, with black lights for the reading of scores and "programmed conducting" using synchronized light signals (1968); and Ñacahuasu for chamber orchestra and narrator (1970), based on texts from Che Guevara's Bolivian diary. After an almost fifteen-year hiatus, he composed Pucayaku for piano and percussion (1984).

See alsoGuevara, Ernesto "Che"; Music: Art Music; Vallejo, César.


Béhague, Gerard. "Countercurrents: Since 1950." In Music in Latin America: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1979.

Estensoro, Juan Carlos. "Bolaños, César." In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, edited by Stanley Sadie. New York: Grove, 2001.

Iturriaga, Enrique. "Bolaños Vildoso, César." In Dicionario de música española e hispanoamericana, edited by Emilio Casares Rodicio. Madrid: Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, 1999.

Pan American Union, Music Section. "César Bolaños." In Compositores de América: Dados biográficos y catálogo de sus obras, Vol. 17. Washington, D.C.: Secretaria General, Organización de los Estados Americanos, 1971.

Pinilla, Enrique. "La música en el siglo XX: Tercera generación." In Historia del Perú, Vol. 9, Procesos e institu-ciones. Lima: J. Mejía Baca, 1980.

Pinilla, Enrique. "César Bolaños." In La música en el Perú. Lima: Patronato Popular y Porvenir pro Música Clásica, 1988.

                                        Alcides Lanza

                                 Luiz Fernando Lopes

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