Art Songs in Argentina
Amancio Alcorta (1805-1862) and Juan Pedro Esnaola (1808-1878) were the first Argentinians to
create, publish and perform songs for upper-class audiences in salons and in concerts in their
country. The French mélodie became a model for many composers of Art Songs in Argentina at
the end of the 19th century. Composers such as Francisco Hargreaves (1849-1931), Eduardo
Garcia Mansilla (1871-1930) and Hermann Bemberg (1859-1931) wrote art songs while studying
in Paris. Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000) was a prolific composer of vocal works. Although he
was trained as a Chemist, he composed over 200 songs. He was an excellent pianist who worked
extensively as an accompanist for voice teachers in their vocal studios. He had a love for the
human voice and acquired extensive knowledge about the singing voice through his work as an
accompanist. Guastavino set his songs exclusively to Spanish texts. He remained a tonal composer
inspired by the folk dances and rhythms of his native country. Guastavino had a deep respect and
appreciation for the poetic settings of his songs.
[His songs have a “natural lyricism rooted in the folk tradition”.
Guastavino developed a bona fide Latin American Style that synthesizes the musical and
cultural idioms of Argentina with the classical art song form.] 1
1. Kimbal, Carol, Song: A Guide to Art Song Style and Literature.(Milwaukee: Hal Leonard, 2006), 524.
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