Orrego-Salas, Juan Antonio (1919–)

views updated

Orrego-Salas, Juan Antonio (1919–)

Juan Antonio Orrego-Salas, a Chilean composer, was born on January 18, 1919, in Santiago. His composition teachers at the National Conservatory of Music in Chile were Humberto Allende and Domingo Santa Cruz. He received degrees in arts and letters and in architecture. With fellowships from both the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations he studied in the United States from 1944 to 1946 with Paul Henry Lang, Randall Thompson, and Aaron Copland. From 1949 to 1961 he edited the well known Revista musical chilena. He wrote articles on music folklore and theoretical topics and essays on Copland, Villa-lobos, and the Chilean composers Leng and Santa Cruz. He was the director of the Latin American Music Center and professor of composition at Indiana University from 1961 to 1987.

Orrego-Salas's early musical language had influences of Spanish popular dances with their characteristic rhythms and harmonies. He utilized more experimental techniques and atonality in his larger works. Beyond some stylistic similarities with works of de Falla and Hindemith, the composer has done significant work with rhythmical relationships characterized by polyrhythms and multimetric layers. Nevertheless, Orrego-Salas's use of dodecaphonic techniques has never attained the level of strict twelve-tone writing. From his first period: Cantata de Navidad (1945) and Canciones castellanas (1948), both for soprano and chamber orchestra; Symphony no. 1 (1949); El retablo del rey pobre (1949–1952), an opera-oratoria. He began experimenting with more contemporary languages in Serenata concertante for orchestra (1954); Dúos concertantes for cello and piano (1955); and particularly with his Symphony no. 2 (1954). Among his piano works are Suite no. 1 (1946); Variaciones sobre un pregón (1954); Rústica (1952); Sonata (1967); and Rondo-Fantasia (1984).

In his Missa "In Tempore Discordiae" (1968–1969), a large work for chorus, tenor, and orchestra, he uses spoken effects, whispering, quasi-parlando and aleatoric procedures. A prolific composer, Orrego-Salas created Biografía mínima de Salvador Allende for voice, guitar, trumpet, and percussion (1983); Concerto for violin and orchestra (1984); Fantasia for piano and wind orchestra (1986); and Partita for alto saxophone and piano trio (1988). He wrote the opera Widows (1987–1990), based on the novel by Ariel Dorfman. In 1992 Orrego-Salas was awarded the Premio Nacional del Arte, the Chilean government's highest honor in the arts and humanities.

Orrego-Salas has continued to receive commissions from foundations, universities, ensembles, and soloists around the world. Among his numerous later works are his fifth and sixth symphonies (1995 and 1997); oratorios and cantatas, including La ciudad Celeste (2004), for baritone soloist, chorus, and orchestra; and compositions for chamber orchestra with soloists, small chamber ensembles, singers, and solo instruments. In 2004 the Latin American Music Center and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Indiana University held a colloquium, combining discussions and the premiere of La ciudad Celeste, in honor of Orrego-Salas's eighty-fifth birthday. In 2005 he published Encuentros, visiones y repasos, a memoir of his life as well as reflections on music in general and on his own work.

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


John Vinton, ed., Dictionary of Contemporary Music (1974), pp. 548-549.

Gérard Béhague, Music in Latin America: An Introduction (1979), pp. 269-270, 315-319; New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980); Octavo festival internacional de música contemporánea (1992), pp. 69-70, 123.

Additional Bibliography

Orrego-Salas, Juan Antonio. Encuentros, visiones y repasos: Capítulos en el camino de mi música y de mi vida. Santiago: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 2005.

Orrego-Salas, Juan Antonio. "Mi camino de la vocación al hallazgo." Revista Musical Chilena 58, no. 202 (2004): 63-74.

                                        Alcides Lanza