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Juan José Castro (Composer, Arranger)

Born: March 7, 1895 - Avellaneda, near Buenos Aires, Argentina
Died: September 3, 1968 - Buenos Aires, Argentina

The eminent Argentine, composer and conductor, Juan José Castro, studied piano and violin under Manuel Posadas and composition under Eduarno Fornarini, in Buenos Aires. In the 1920s he was awarded the Europa Prize, and then went on to study in Paris at the Schola Cantorum under Vincent d'Indy (compostion) and Édouard Risler.

Returning to Argentina in 1925, he organized in 1928 in Buenos Aires the Orquesta de Nacimiento (chamber orchestra), which he conducted; in 1930 he conducted the ballet season at the Teatro Colón; conducted opera there from 1933; also became music director of the Aseciación del Profesorado Orquestal and Asociación Sinfónica, with which he gave fIrst local performances of a number of modem works. In 1934 he received a Guggenheim Foundation grant. From 1939 to 1943 he was a professor at the Buenos Aires Conservatory.

Juan José Castro's international career began in the 1940s. In 1947 he conducted the Havana Philharmonic, and the Sodre Orchestra in Uruguay in 1949. From 1952 to 1953 he was Prinicipal Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (then known as the Victorian Symphony Orchestra) in Australia. He returned to the Americas and conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in Buenos Aires from 1956 to 1960. From 1959 (or 1960) to 1964, he was director of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music in San Juan.

Juan Jose Castro appeal as a composer is the result of his rich and eclectic style, and of his balanced aesthetic sense. Castro was proficient in all genres of composition, and His works include numerous symphonic pieces, fiIm music, chamber music, music for piano solo, bandoneon solo, voice and piano, choir, operas and arrangements of music by other composers such as J.S. Bach, Weber, and Julian Aguirre. However, his works were rarely performed outside South America, and he himself conducted most of his symphonic compositions. His most notable success outside his homeland came when he won the prize for the best opera in a La Scala competition in Milan with his Prosperpino e lo straniero (in Spanish as Prosperpina y el extranjero) in 1952.

Castro's brothers, José María Castro (1892-1964) and Washington Castro (b 1909), were also both composers. Juan José Castro married the daughter of the composer Julián Aguirre.

Works (Selection)

Dramatic: Operas:
La Zapatera prodigiosa, opera after Federico Garcia Lorca (1943; Montevideo, December 23, 1949)
Prosperpina e lo straniero (Proserpina and the Foreigner), opera after Omar del Carlo (1951; Milan, March 17, 1952)
Bodas de sangre (Marriage of Blood), opera after Lorca (1952; Buenos Aires, Aug. 9, 1956)
Cosecha negra (1961)

Mekhano (Buenos Aires, July 17, 1937)
Offenbachiana (Buenos Aires, May 25, 1940)

Dans Ie Jardin des morls (Buenos Aires, October 5, 1924)
A una madre (Buenos Aires, October 27, 1925)
La Chellah, symphonic poem (Buenos Aires, September 10, 1927)
5 Symphonies: No. 1 (1931), No. 2, Sinfonia biblica, for Chorus and Orchestra (1932), No. 3, Sinfonia Argentina (Buenos Aires, November 29, 1936), No.4, Sinfonia de los campos (Buenos Aires, October 29, 1939), and No.5 (1956)
Allegro, Lento y Vivace (1931)
Anunciación, Entrada a jerusalem, Golgotha (Buenos Aires, Nov. 15, 1932)
Piano Concerto (1941)
El Llanto de las Sierras, posthumous homage to the great Spanish composer Manuel de Falla (1947)
Corales criollos No. 3, symphonic poem (1953)
Suite introspectiva (1961; Los Angeles, June 8, 1962)
Violin Concerto (1962)

Violin Sonata (1914)
Cello Sonata (1916)
String Quartet (1942)

2 sonatas (1917, 1939)
Corates criollos Nos. 1 and 2 (1947)

Martin Fierro, cantata (1944)
Epitafio en ritmos y sonidos for Chorus and Orchestra (1961)
Negro for Soprano and Orchestra (1961)

Source: Wikipedia Website (August 2010); Supplements from other sources
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (August 2010)

Juan José Castro: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings of Works for Orchestra

Links to other Sites

Juan José Castro (Foundation Ostinato)
Conservatorio Juan José Castro [Spanish]

Juan José Castro (Wikipedia)
Juan José Castro (Classical Composers Database)


R. Arizaga: Juan Jose Castro (Buenos Aires, 1963)
Don Randel: The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Harvard, 1996), p. 144

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