Grupo Renovación [1929] and Agrupación Música Viva [1937] in Buenos Aires. Influences and consequences.

America’s Society- October 11, 2001 – New York
"Avant-garde music in Argentina and beyond – Concerts, panel discussion, round table with composers Francisco Krôpfl, alcides lanza and Samuel Zyman. Maria Elena Tobón, Artistic Director]

Table Ronde: Grupo Renovación [1929] and Agrupación Música Viva [1937] in Buenos Aires. Influences and consequences.
[Presentation by alcides lanza]

According to Arizaga’s Enciclopedia de la Música Argentina, the Grupo Renovación was created in 1929 by the composers Juan José Castro, José Maria Castro, Gilardo Gilardi, Juan Carlos Paz and Jacobo Ficher. A bit later Luis Gianneo joined the group. The Grupo Renovación was active until 1943, organizing several concert seasons with chamber music by its members, but also and in a very generous way, gave performances of many other contemporary composers. Their interest was not on the aesthetic field, but better than that, the group was held together by artistic and professional reasons. For them it was imperative to educate and create new audiences. Juan Carlos Paz at some point did not agree with the position of other members in the group and resigned, creating later on – 1937 – the first version of his own group, Conciertos de Nueva Música.

However, other composers had joined the Grupo Renovación, for example, Honorio Siccardi.

The original manifesto of the Grupo Renovación stated
"to stimulate and surpass the artistic goal of each one of its members by gaining knowledge and critical assessment of their works; to bring their works to the knowledge of wider audiences by the realization of public concerts; to publish the works of its associates; to extend to foreign countries the presentation of their works; to give special attention to the compositions of argentinean works by presenting them in public by all means and methods; to open discussion with the public on artistic matters if such action would contribute to the advancement or consolidation of musical culture".

My own interest concerning the ‘consequences’ of the realizations of the two groups [and of their important figures, Juan Carlos Paz, Juan José Castro, for example], may reside in their interest in publication, publishing, documentation. I must confess that part of my ‘training’ [I never really went much to music school] was during the Sunday morning concerts at the Teatro Colón, to attend the free concerts established by Juan José Castro, where one could get acquainted with oratorios, symphonies, Jeanne d’Arc au Boucher, Symphony of Psalms, Daphnes et Chloe, plus Argentinean music or works by Copland, Chavez and Castro. Marvelous schooling.

There was also a mecenas in Buenos Aires, Cecilia Benedit de Debenedetti, founder of the Editorial Argentina de Musica [EAM], and publisher of music by several members of the Grupo Renovación. She also got the EAM involved in other adventures, among those – I know because I was engaged as Artistic Director – the Concert Organization OCEAM. [1] She published many scores by Jacobo Ficher, Luis Gianneo and the Castro brothers.

As for ANM, Paz always considered me a very good pianist, a pianist to whom difficult piano works could be assigned [among others, his own Música 1946, a real pioneering piano composition in the serialist mode, written using only one series with its retrograde…for a 20′ work!]. I have played Música 1946 in many countries, for Radio specialized programs, and recorded it on CD. [2]
But Paz, during his short tenure as ‘secretary of culture’ or similar, for the Province of Buenos Aires, gave me and other artists, the chance to present new music programs in smaller venues in the provinces, for example.

What is more lasting as an influence may be my interest in organizing festivals, publishing music and compact discs and my constant interest in the new music from Hispano America.
It is clear to me that the efforts described above, also had parallel connections with the PanAmerican Society of Composers [Edgar Varèse] and for the publications sponsored by Henry Cowell. Also to be recognized are the efforts of Ernst Widmer and Hans-Joachim Koellreuter in Brazil, or Carlos Chavez in Mexico. They all saw the need to create associations of artists to promote, publish and record their own creations. It is an unforgettable lesson.

A few years ago, the OAS [3] awarded me a high distinction diploma [4] and the Dean of my Faculty at McGill University, for the presentation of this award, asked me to provide some documentation on my recordings. On looking back at my own career, I was startled to see, en masse, that I have produced 10 different CDs, and half a dozen LPs, all of them dealing with music from the Americas [by the way, the name of my own series of CDs, is "New Music from the Americas"]. I can easily see the links with my own past, with the teaching of Julián Bautista and Alberto Ginastera, with my activities with the EAM and Sra. De Debenedetti, with my experiences with Juan Carlos Paz and the ANM.

Alcides Lanza
[Statement read during the Table Ronde part of the meeting at the America’s Society in New York, October 11, 2001]

[1] OCEAM: Organización de Conciertos Editorial Argentina de Música
[2] the extended piano; alcides lanza, piano [eSp 9401-CD; New Music from the Americas, 2; SHELAN, Montreal]
[3] OAS: Organization of American States
[4] "Diploma de Honor, en el grado de Máxima Distinción, otorgado por la Organización de los Estados Americanos [OEA] y el Consejo Interamericano de Música [CIDEM] al maestro Alcides Lanza como testimonio y reconocimiento de la comunidad artística de las Américas por sus excepcionales méritos y relevante contribución a la creación musical y a la promoción de la música y los músicos del Hemisferio [Junio 2, 1996]

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