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Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Golijov


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"A century ago, a composer was defined by his nationality. Debussy signed his letters "musicien français."  Puccini defined Italian opera. Sibelius was developing into a Finnish national hero. Schoenberg was working toward a musical grammar he vowed would ensure the supremacy of German music for 100 years. Mahler, even torn as he was between being Austrian and being Jewish, grounded his symphonies in the soil of central Europe.

"Today's most ingriguing composers are the migrants, the permanent strangers with intricate histories and adaptable but always foreign accents, whose native country is just a point of departure: Osvaldo Golijov, for instance. Golijov was born in Plata, Argentina, into a family of Orthodox Eastern European Jews, whose older members imported their Yiddish culture to a Catholic land. As a young man he spent several years in Israel, renewing his links to the wellspring of Judaism while avoiding the wellspring of Western concert music — Europe.

"Since the mid-1980s he has lived in the Boston area, writing works that blend the flavors of Latin America, the European classical tradition, North American minimalism, and the Judaism of the shtetl, the Bible, and the modern state. He is not a cosmopolitan composer, but one with many roots."

Justin Davidson, Newsday

"Every half century, history rolls at us another wave of composers who will change the way music is heard and played. At the beginning of the 20th century came Debussy and Schoenberg, soon joined by Bartok and Stravinsky. In the 1950's, those arriving ranged from John Cage to Milton Babbitt. Now it is time for another great sweep, perhaps going in even more diverse directions and prompted from farther out on the periphery. The 20th century's revolutions were led from Europe and then the United States; now may come the turn of China, Australia and Latin America.

"This, in fact, seems to be happening. When the Bach Academy of Stuttgart commissioned four new settings of the Passion for the millennial year 2000 and the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, the roaring success was the score by the Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov."

Paul Griffiths, The New York Times

"The progenitor and prototype for Golijov's Pasión is Stravinsky's Les Noces. Folk materials, developed and organized by a great contemporary composer, bring us to the universal deep song within ancient experience and ritual, the deep song that connects all the nations and generations of humankind."

Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe

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