Life and career
Lavista enrolled the Composition Workshop (Taller de Composición) at the National Conservatory in 1963, under the guidance of Carlos Chávez, Héctor Quintanar, and Rodolfo Halffter. In 1967 he received a scholarship from the French government to study at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, where he studied with Jean Etienne Marie. During his time in Europe, he attended courses by Henri Pousseur, Nadia Boulanger, Christoph Caskel, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
In 1970 he founded Quanta, a collective improvisation group. He also worked at the electronic music studio of radio ant television in Tokyo in 1972. At the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s he closely collaborated with renowned performers in solo and chamber works where he explored unusual timbre possibilities by the use of extended techniques. In 1982, he founded Pauta, one of the most important music journals in Latin America, and continues to serve as its chief editor. In 1987, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his first (and only) opera Aura, based on the short story by Carlos Fuentes. Aura premiered in 1988 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City
Lavista has approached religious genres in a series of compositions where he uses Medieval and Renaissance procedures, such as the symbolic use of certain intervals, canonic permutations, and isorhythm, most evident in the Missa ad Consolationis Dominam Nostram, a central work in his oeuvre.
He has received multiple awards and honors: Premio Nacional de Ciencias y Artes and the Medalla Mozart in 1991, an honorable mention from the Sistema Nacional de Creadores del Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes in 1993, and membership in the prestigious El Colegio Nacional since 1998. Lavista’s works are frequently performed in Europe and throughout the Americas, where he travels regularly to give lectures and seminars in composition. Since 1970 he teaches music analysis and composition at the National Conservatory in Mexico City. Additionally, he has been visiting professor at the University of Chicago, Cornell University, the University of California San Diego, Indiana University, McGill University, University of North Texas, and The University of New Mexico.
In 2013, Mario Lavista won the Tomás Luis de Victoria Composition Prize, the foremost recognition for musical creativity for Ibero-American composers.
- Antifonia, mixed quintet
- Cante, guitar ensemble
- Canto del Alba, flute solo
- Cinco Danzas Breves, woodwind quintet
- Cuaderno de Viaje, viola or violoncello solo
- Danza de las Bailarinas de Degas, flute and keyboard
- Diacronia, string quartet
- Dialogos, violin and keyboard
- Elegia (a la muerte de Nacho), flute and keyboard
- Gargantua, string quartet and woodwind ensemble
- Lacrymosa, chamber orchestra
- Marsias, oboe and ensemble
- Natarayah, guitar solo
- Quotations, violoncello and keyboard
- Reflejos de la Noche, string orchestra or string quartet
- Responsorio in Memoriam Rodolfo Halffter, bassoon and ensemble
- String Quartet No. 6
- Tres Danzas Seculares, violoncello and keyboard
- Cello Concerto
- Hacia el Comienzo, medium voice and ensemble
- Dos Canciones, medium voice and piano
- Mater Dolorosa, organ solo
- Pieza Para un Pianista y un Piano, piano solo
- Simurg, piano solo
- Aguilar, Ananay, "La circularidad en Aura, la ópera de Mario Lavista", Cuadernos de música, artes visuales y artes escénicas, Vol.1, No.2, December 2006
- Alonso-Minutti, Ana R. (2008). "Resonances of Sound, Text, and Image in the Music of Mario Lavista." Ph.D. Diss. Davis: University of California, Davis.
- Aharonian, Coriún (2000). An Approach to Compositional Trends in Latin America, International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (ISAST).
- Cortez, Luis Jaime (1988). Mario Lavista: Textos en torno a la música, Mexico City: CENIDIM.
- Delgado, Eugenio (1993). "El lenguaje musical de Aura", Heterofonía, vol. 26, no. 108 (January–June): pp. 45-51. Mexico City: CENIDIM.
- Orellana, Joaquín (1977). "Hacia un lenguaje propio de Latinoamérica en música actual". Alero, third quarter, no. 24 (Guatemala City, May–June 1977).