Tosar, Héctor Alberto (1923–2002)

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Tosar, Héctor Alberto (1923–2002)

Héctor Alberto Tosar (b. 18 July 1923; d. 17 January 2002), Uruguayan composer, pianist, and conductor. Born in Montevideo, Tosar began his studies in that city with Wilhelm Kolischer (piano), Tomás Mujica (harmony), and Lamberto Baldi (composition and orchestration). When he was seventeen, his Toccata for orchestra was premiered in Montevideo by maestro Baldi. In 1946 Tosar received a Guggenheim fellowship and went to the United States to study composition with Aaron Copland. With a grant from the French government in 1948 he went to France, where he remained for three years studying under Darius Milhaud, Jean Rivier, and Arthur Honegger (composition), and Eugène Bigot and Jean Fournet (conducting). In 1951 he won the SODRE first composition award for Oda a Artigas, a cantata for speaker and orchestra. He also won first prize at the First Inter-American Music Festival (Montevideo) in 1957 for his Divertimento for strings. He composed a Te Deum in 1960 commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation.

Tosar was chairman of the composition department at the Puerto Rico Conservatory (1974) and professor (1983–1984) and director of Montevideo's Escuela Universitaria de Música (1985–1987) and Conservatorio Nacional. From 1987 to 1991 he was composer-in-residence at the SODRE. He was also professor of composition and analysis at the Instituto Simón Bolívar in Caracas, and later taught composition at Indiana University (1981–1982). His early works, which combine contrapuntal and harmonic structures in free forms, are dramatic and rarely nationalistic. In his later works Tosar has experimented with jazz rhythms, new forms of instrumentation, as in his aleatoric composition for thirteen instruments, A-13, and serial structures. His Recitativo y variaciones para orquesta was commissioned by the Fourth Inter-American Music Festival and premiered in Washington, D.C., in 1968. In the 1980s several of his works were premiered in the United States, Mexico, and Venezuela. Tosar has also composed music for the synthesizer. He died in Montevideo.


Gérard Béhague, Music in Latin America (1979); New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 19 (1980).

Susana Salgado, Breve historia de la música culta en el Uruguay, 2nd ed. (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Aharonián, Coriún. Héctor Tosar: compositor uruguayazo. Montevideo, Uruguay: Ediciones Trilce, 1991.

Aharonián, Coriún. "Héctor Tosar (1923–2002): Muerte de un gran compositor." Revista musica chilena 56 (June 2002): 81-84.

Véjar Pérez Rubio, Carlos and Kaarina Véjar Amarillos. Contrapuntos: Colegio de Compositores Latinoamericanos de Mú sica de Arte, su nacimiento. Mexico City: Archipiélago, 2000.

                                           Susana Salgado