Alberto Williams (November 23, 1862 - June 17, 1952) was an Argentine symphonic composer and conductor.
Life and work
Alberto Williams was born in Buenos Aires, in 1862. His maternal grandfather, Amancio Jacinto Alcorta, had been a respected government and banking policy-maker, and a well-known composer of sacred music. Williams began attending a local music school in early childhood and, at age 7, he performed in his first public concert. He received a scholarship from the Argentine government in 1882 to study music composition at the Paris Conservatoire, where he was mentored by pianist Georges Mathias and composer César Franck.
Williams composed his first piano concertos during this interim, which consisted of lullabies,[vague] before returning to Argentina in 1889. Instead of settling in Buenos Aires, however, he toured the then-rural pampas and became steeped in the folklorical music of Argentina.[dead link] His first composition to earn him notice, The Abandoned Ranch, was an elegy to the rural pampas in the form of classical music; after 1893, however, his compositions were modernist adaptations of milongas, zambas and other forms of local folklorical music. Williams established the Buenos Aires Conservatory of Music in 1893.
A renowned instructor, as well as composer, Williams became the first prominent composer to infuse Argentine folklore into symphonic music. He composed five sonatas, including three for violin and piano (1905, 1906, 1907), one for cello and piano (1906), and the Primera Sonata Argentina for piano (1917). He created lyrics for all his compositions and authored numerous texts on music theory, including an instruction text for children; a collection of his lyrics was published as Versos Líricos, in 1924. Williams was inducted into the National Academy of Fine Arts and National Commission for Culture.
Williams composed 136 works, including nine symphonies. Some of the best-known are:
- Op.15. Primera obertura de concierto (1889).
- Op.18. Segunda obertura de concierto (1892).
- Op.30. Miniaturas: first suite (1890).
- Op.31. Miniaturas: second suite (1890).
- Op.32. The Abandoned Ranch (1890).
- Op.44. First Symphony, in B minor (1907).
- Op.55. "The Witch of the Mountains." Second Symphony, in C minor (1910).
- Op.56. Centennial March (1910).
- Op.58. "The Sacred Forest." Third Symphony, in F major (1911).
- Op.60. Poem for the Campaniles (1913).
- Op.63. Five Argentine Dances (1921).
- Op.88. Poem for the Southern Seas (1933).
- Op.98. "Eli ataja-caminos." Fourth Symphony, in E-flat major (1935).
- Op.100."The Doll's Heart." Fifth Symphony, in E-flat major (1936).
- Op.102."The Death of the Comet." Sixth Symphony, in B major (1937).
- Op.103."Eternal Rest." Seventh Symphony, in D (1937).
- Op.104."The Sphinx." Eighth Symphony, in F minor (1938).
- Op.107.Las milongas de la orquesta (1938).
- Op.108."Los batracios" (La humorística). Ninth Symphony, in B-flat (1939).
- Op.115. Poema del Iguazú (Poem of the Iguazú [Falls], 1943).
- Op.117."The Air in the Pampas". Milongas, 2 Suites (1944).
- Milongas: The Bartolomé Mitre March; First, Second, and Third Argentine Suites.
He lived his final years in the Bridge House, a modern residence in Mar del Plata designed by his son, architect Amancio Williams, and completed in 1946. Alberto Williams, the "father of Argentine music," died in Buenos Aires in 1952, at age 89.
- Anon. 1956. "Alberto Williams". In Compositores de América: Datos biográficos y catálogos de sus obras, vol. 2 / Composers of the Americas: Biographical Data and Catalogs of Their Works, Vol. 2, 136–55. Washington, D. C.: Union Panamericana.
- Chase, Gilbert. 1957. "Alberto Ginastera: Argentine Composer". The Musical Quarterly 43, no. 4 (October): 439–60.
- Salgado, Susan. 2001. "Williams, Alberto". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Schwartz-Kates, Deborah. 2007. "Williams, Alberto". Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: allgemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik, begründet von Friedrich Blume, second revised edition. Personenteil 17, cols. 971–73. Basel, Kassel, London, Munich, and Prague: Bärenreiter; Stuttgart and Weimar: Metzler.
- Slonimsky, Nicolas. 1942. "Alberto Williams, the Father of Argentinian Music". Musical America (10 January).
- Slonimsky, Nicolas. 1945. Music of Latin America. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. Reprinted, with a new foreword and addenda by the author. New York: Da Capo Press, 1972. ISBN 0306711885.