Cordero, Roque (1917–)

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Cordero, Roque (1917–)

Roque Cordero (b. 16 August 1917), Panamanian composer and pedagogue. Born in Panama City, Cordero studied composition at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and orchestral conducting at Tanglewood. Among his teachers were Ernst Krenek, Leon Barzin, and Dimitri Mitropoulos. He was the director of the National Institute of Music in Panama from 1953 until 1964 and artistic director and conductor of the National Orchestra of Panama from 1964 to 1966. He then became professor of composition at the Latin American Music Center at Indiana University. Cordero's compositional style evolved from a guarded nationalistic approach near the beginning of his career to an atonal language with twelvetone procedures. His own version of a serially organized atonal language became his most prevalent compositional technique from 1950 on. It is applied to pitch classes and intervals but also determines the evolution of his complex rhythmic structures and the overall form of the piece. In 1976 he received the First Inter-American Composition Prize in Costa Rica. Cordero has been music adviser to Peer International Corporation in New York City and has been invited to judge many international composition competitions. He has been a professor of music at Illinois State University since 1972. As of 2007, he was a distinguished professor emeritus.

His more nationalistic works include Capricho interiorano (1939), Sonatina rítmica (1943), Obertura Panameña (1944), and Rapsodia campesina (1953). Those early works show Cordero expressing himself through elaborations of typical Panamanian dance rhythms, such as the mejorana and the tamborillo. His first twelvetone composition is his 1946 Sonatina for violin and piano. Other important works are the Symphony no. 2 (1956); String Quartet no. 1 (1960); Mensaja fúnebre for clarinet and string orchestra (1961), written in memory of Dimitri Mitropoulos; Violin Concerto (1962), written in a virtuoso style and full of intricate rhythms; Soliloquies for alto sax; Sonata for cello and piano (1963); Symphony no. 3 (1965), a work with one theme and five variations, commissioned by the Third Music Festival in Caracas, Venezuela; Sonata breve for piano (1966); Circumvolutions and Mobiles for fifty-seven instruments (1967); String Quartets no. 2 and no. 3 (1968, 1973); Cantata (1974); Permutaciones (1974); Variations and Theme for Five (1975); and Paz, Paix, Peace for chamber ensemble (1970).

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


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

Béhague, Gérard. Octavo festival internacional de música contemporánea (1992), pp. 47-48, 122.

Congdon, Kristin G., and Kara Kelley Hallmark. Artists from Latin American Cultures: A Biographical Dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Filós Goch, Priscilla. El piano en las obras de Roque Cordero. Panamá: Compañía de Seguros Chagres, 1985.

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

                                      Alcides Lanza

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Cordero, Roque (1917–)

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