Davidovsky, Mario (1934–)

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Davidovsky, Mario (1934–)

Mario Davidovsky (b. 4 March 1934), Argentine composer who became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Born in Médanos, province of Buenos Aires, he was a composition student of Guillermo Graetzer in Buenos Aires, where he developed an atonal, abstract lyricism in his compositions, such as String Quartet no. 1 (1954), Noneto (1957), and Pequeño concierto (1957). He then moved to the United States under a Guggenheim Fellowship and studied with Varèse, Babbitt, Ussachevsky, Luening, and Sessions. He was associated with the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York from its inception and was an assistant director from 1965 to 1980. He became director in 1981. Davidovsky has been particularly interested in the combination of acoustic instruments and electronically produced sounds on tape. He is celebrated for his series of Synchronisms, including no. 1 for flute and tape (1963), no. 2 for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and tape (1964), which was commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for the Tanglewood Festival, and no. 3 for cello and tape (1965). If some of his earlier pieces were somewhat exploratory, Davidovsky's style and personality emerged strongly in his Synchronisms no. 5 for percussion and tape (1969) and no. 6 for piano and tape (1971), which in 1971 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. The series was continued in 1974 with Synchronisms no. 7 for orchestra and tape and no. 8 for violin and tape; in 1988 with Synchronisms no. 9 for violin and tape; and in 1992 with Synchronisms no. 10 for guitar and electronic sounds. Synchronisms no. 11 for contrabass and tape (2005) and no. 12 for clarinet and tape (2006) premiered at the 2007 National Conference of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS).

Davidovsky has produced a remarkable series for solo tape called Electronic Studies. The first dates from 1960, and the third (1965) was written as an homage to Varèse. Other important works include Transients for Orchestra (1972), String Quartet no. 3 (1976), Festino (1994), and Sefarad: Four Span-ish-Ladino Folkscenes (2004). Davidovsky is the Fanny P. Mason Professor of Music, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


Rodolfo Arizaga, Enciclopedia de la música argentina (1971), p. 110.

David Ernst, The Evolution of Electronic Music (1977), pp. 128-129, 142.

Gérard Béhague, Music in Latin America: An Introduction (1979), pp. 329, 338-339; New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Kimura, Mari. "Peformance Practice in Computer Music." Computer Music Journal 19: 1 (Spring 1995), 64-75.

Perea, Andrew Rafael. "Electro-Acoustic Music: An Historical Overview, with an In-Depth Study of Preparatory Techniques for Mario Davidovsky's Synchronisms No. 9 for Violin and Tape." D.M.A. Thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1998.

                                           Alcides Lanza

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Davidovsky, Mario (1934–)

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