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Castro, Juan José (1895–1968)

Castro, Juan José (1895–1968)

Juan José Castro (b. 7 March 1895; d. 5 September 1968), Argentine composer and conductor. Born in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires Province, Castro began his musical education in Buenos Aires, studying piano and violin under Manuel Posadas, harmony under Constantino Gaito, and fugue and composition under Eduardo Fornarini. As a winner of the Europa Grand Prize, he went to Paris to study composition with Vincent D'Indy at the Schola Cantorum, attending Edouard Risler's piano classes. Returning to Buenos Aires, he founded the Sociedad del Cuarteto in 1926 and performed there as first violin; two years later he started a conducting career with Orquesta Renacimiento. Castro was appointed conductor of the ballet season at the Teatro Colón in 1930 and traveled abroad conducting that ensemble. In 1933 he was named director of the Colón.

Parallel with extensive tours as principal conductor of several Latin American orchestras, Castro began a productive career in composition as a founder-member of the Grupo Renovación; nevertheless, his music was individualistic and he remained independent of group theories. His works exhibit three influences: nationalism, Spanish subject matter, and a free cosmopolitan style, the latter a product of his Parisian years. The last quality applies to the color and sonority of his orchestral works, in which he achieved a sort of American impressionism. He became internationally known when Ernest Ansermet conducted the award-winning Allegro Lento e Vivace (1930) at the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM) Festival. Among Castro's five stage works there are two operas after Federico García Lorca: La zapatera prodigiosa (1943), first performed in Montevideo in 1949, and Bodas de sangre (1953), which premiered at the Teatro Colón in 1956. Proserpina y el extranjero, a three-act opera, first performed at Milan's La Scala, was the recipient of the first International Verdi Prize in 1951. Among his orchestral pieces is Corales criollos No. 3, a first prize winner at the Caracas Interamerican Music Festival (1954). As a teacher, Castro was appointed by Pablo Casals as dean of studies and professor at the National Conservatory in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 1959 to 1964.

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


Composers of the Americas, vol. 4 (1958).

V. Gesualdo, Historia de la Música en la Argentina (1961).

R. Arizaga, Juan José Castro (1963) and Enciclopedia de la Música Argentina (1971).

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

Gerard Béhague, Music in Latin America (1979).

Stanley Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 3 (1980), and The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, vol. 1 (1992).

                                           Susana Salgado

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