Monday, October 26, 2009

Alicia Urreta (1933-1987)

Mexican pianist and composer. She began six years of piano study with Joaquín Amparán in Mexico City in 1948. In 1952 she entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, studying harmony with Rodolfo Halffter, and other subjects with Hernández Moncada, León Mariscal and Sandor Roth. After graduation she continued studying the piano privately with Alfred Brendel and Alicia de Larrocha, and she studied acoustics and electronic music at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. From 1957, while titular pianist of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional and instructor in acoustics at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, she was the chosen performer in the Mexico City premières of all works including piano by Stockhausen, Cage, Gilbert Amy, Manuel Enríquez and Halffter. Meanwhile she composed many works showing her mastery of the avant-garde techniques emanating from Darmstadt. These works favour aleatory procedures with a Boulez-like notion of control: specific markings indicate the exact durations of particular passages and precise dynamic contours; pedalling too is indicated. In the 1970s she co-founded the Festival Hispano-Mexicano de Música Contemporánea, founded the Camerata de México and made recordings (for Voz Viva de México and Creaciones Cisne). Her many awards include prizes for the music for the film El ídolo de los orígenes (1967) and for incidental dramatic music, and a citation for her own mixed-media creation, Pequeña historia de la música (1980). Her incidental music for plays kept her name constantly before the Mexico City public. In 1981 the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional gave the first performance of her concerto for amplified piano and orchestra, Arcana, in which she herself was the soloist; the première of her Esferas poéticas was given in 1983 by the same orchestra. Manuel Enriquez, Halffter, Mario Lavista and Héctor Quintanar are among those who dedicated works to her.

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