Osvaldo Golijov

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Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Noé Golijov

(1960-12-05) December 5, 1960 (age 62)
La Plata, Argentina
Spouse(s)Silvia Golijov (divorced)
Neri Oxman (divorced)

Osvaldo Noé Golijov (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈɡolixof]; born December 5, 1960) is an Argentine composer of classical music and music professor, known for his vocal and orchestral work.


Osvaldo Golijov was born in and grew up in La Plata, Argentina, in a Jewish family that immigrated to Argentina from Romania.[1] His mother was a piano teacher, and his father was a physician. He studied piano in La Plata and studied composition with Gerardo Gandini.

In 1983, Golijov immigrated to Israel, where he studied with Mark Kopytman at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. Three years later, he studied with George Crumb at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree. In 1991, Golijov joined the faculty of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he was named Loyola Professor of Music in 2007.[2] During the 2012–13 concert season, he occupied the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.

As of 2016, Golijov lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.[3]

Both of Golijov's marriages have ended in divorce. He has three children with his first wife, Silvia.[4] He was subsequently married to architect and designer Neri Oxman.[5]

Music career[edit]

Golijov grew up listening to chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the nuevo tango of Ástor Piazzolla.[6] His Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind was inspired by the writings and teachings of Rabbi Yitzhak Saggi Nehor.[7]

In 1996, his work Oceana was premiered at the Oregon Bach Festival. He composed La Pasión según San Marcos for the Passion 2000 project in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the death of Johann Sebastian Bach.[8] In 2010, he composed Sidereus for a consortium of 35 American orchestras, to commemorate Galileo.[9]

Golijov had a long working relationship with soprano Dawn Upshaw, who he called his muse.[10][11] She premiered some of his works, often written specifically for her. These included Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra and his popular opera, Ainadamar, which premiered at Tanglewood in 2003.

Starting in 2000, Golijov composed movie soundtracks for documentaries and other films, including The Man Who Cried, Youth Without Youth, Tetro and Twixt. He also composed and arranged chamber music, including for the Kronos Quartet (Nuevo) and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

Golijov's song cycle "Falling Out of Time" was inspired by a novel by Israeli author David Grossman.[12]


Golijov came under scrutiny in 2011 for a series of commissions that were either delayed or cancelled. A violin concerto written for the Los Angeles Philharmonic was not completed in time, Golijov missed a second deadline the following year in Berlin,[13] and a third composition missed its January 2013 premiere at Disney Hall.[14]

This followed a similar cancellation in 2010, when a scheduled song cycle had to be removed from the program when it was not completed in time.[15] The March 2011 premiere of a new string quartet for the St. Lawrence Quartet was also postponed,[16] though the work, Qohelet, was completed later that year and premiered by the quartet in October 2011.

Around 2006, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned Golijov to compose an opera, to be performed in the 2018–19 season.[17] In 2016, the Met cancelled the commission because of the composer's lack of progress.[18]

Tom Manoff, a composer and critic, and Brian McWhorter, a trumpeter, alleged that Golijov's Sidereus was largely copied from Michael Ward-Bergeman's composition Barbeich. Alex Ross of The New Yorker reviewed both scores and wrote, "To put it bluntly, 'Sidereus' is 'Barbeich' with additional material attached." Ross added that Ward-Bergeman knew of and did not object to Golijov's borrowings, having written, "Osvaldo and I came to an agreement regarding the use of 'Barbeich' for 'Sidereus.' The terms were clearly understood, and we were both happy to agree. Osvaldo and I have been friends and collaborators for years. I don’t have anything else to say about the matter."[19] A consortium of 35 orchestras had paid Golijov $75,000, supplemented by a $50,000 grant from the League of American Orchestras, to write a 20-minute work.[20] The work that Golijov produced was only 9 minutes. Golijov had used that same musical material in his 2009 composition Radio.[21]

Golijov responded to these questions by explaining that he composed the original musical material jointly with Ward-Bergeman for a film score which in the end did not include the material, and that he used it by agreement with Ward-Bergeman, who did not comment publicly on the matter. Golijov cited Monteverdi, Schubert and Mahler as other composers who used existing musical material to create new music.[22]

Notable compositions[edit]

Some of Golijov's notable works include the following:[23]

  • Yiddishbbuk (1992), for string quartet.[24]
  • The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (1994), for klezmer clarinet and string quartet (and later for clarinet and string orchestra)
  • Oceana (1996), cantata for soloist, boys choir, chorus, electric guitars, and reduced orchestra (strings, flutes, and percussion).[25][26]
  • La Pasión según San Marcos (St. Mark's Passion) (2000)[27][28]
  • Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra (2001). Lúa Descolorida from this set was later repurposed as the 'Peter's Tears' Aria in La Pasión según San Marcos.[29]
  • Tenebrae (2002), for soprano, clarinet and string quartet.[30]
  • Ainadamar (2003): Golijov's first opera, libretto by David Henry Hwang.[31]
  • Ayre (2004): a song cycle for soprano and ensemble, premiered by Upshaw and The Andalucian Dogs.[32]
  • Azul (2006), for cello and orchestra, premiered by Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood.[33][34]
  • She Was Here (2008), an orchestration of four songs by Schubert, premiered by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.[35]
  • Sidereus (2010), for orchestra, commissioned by a consortium of 36 orchestras.[19]

Awards and recognition[edit]



Selected discography[edit]

Film soundtracks

Voice, chamber music and orchestral

  • Yiddishbbuk (EMI Classics 7243 5 57356 2 1) – nominated for a 2003 Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance
  • Oceana (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Classics, 2007)
  • Ayre (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Classics 477 5414)—nominated for a 2006 Grammy for Best Classical Contemporary Composition
  • Ainadamar (Dawn Upshaw, Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Classics)—won two 2007 Grammy Awards for recording and for composition
  • La Pasión según San Marcos The Passion according to St. Mark (live & studio) (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Classics 479 0346)
  • The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind performed by the Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch/Elektra 79444)
  • Voices of Light, Lúa Descolorida sung by soprano Dawn Upshaw (Nonesuch/Elektra 79812)
  • Night Prayers, K'vakarat on recording of the Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch/Elektra 79346)
  • Caravan arrangements for the Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch/Elektra 79490)


  1. ^ Terauds, John (2010-02-25). "Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov follows his intuition". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  2. ^ "Osvaldo Golijov Named Loyola Professor of Music at Holy Cross". Retrieved 2008-05-27.
  3. ^ Lovett, Laura. "An exploration of sound and sense: Brookline composer Osvaldo Golijov". Brookline TAB. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  4. ^ Beggy, Carol; Shanahan, Mark (2006-10-27). "Newton composer bowls over Bowie". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-12-03.
  5. ^ "Neri Oxman Is Redesigning the Natural World". Surface Magazine. June 6, 2016. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  6. ^ "Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra | LA Phil". www.laphil.com. Archived from the original on 2015-09-20.
  7. ^ "Golijov's Yiddishbbuk". ClassicsToday.com. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Osvaldo Golijov's 'St. Mark' Passion finally reaches Los Angeles". Los Angeles Times. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  9. ^ Horsley, Paul. "HOMAGE TO HENRY: Orchestras, League commission top composer to honor visionary leader". Kansas City Independent. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  10. ^ Daniel J Wakin (Spring 2013). "Joyful Noise". College of the Holy Cross Magazine. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  11. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien (17 April 2007). "Singers and Composers in a Stylistic Mix and Match". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  12. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/05/arts/music/osvaldo-golijov-music.html, New York Times
  13. ^ "Osvaldo Golijov Violin Concerto Delayed Again". The Strad. 2012-11-30. Archived from the original on 2014-12-26. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  14. ^ Ng, David (29 November 2012). "Osvaldo Golijov Misses yet Another Deadline for Violin Concerto". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ "Los Angeles Philharmonic Hit by Wave of Cancellations by Artists". Los Angeles Times. 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
  16. ^ Kozinn, Allan (2011-03-09). "One Fresh Score in Place of Another". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
  17. ^ Midgette, Anne (2013-10-16). "Developing New Operas Is an Art in Itself". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  18. ^ Midgette, Anne (2016-11-30). "Et tu, Golijov? The Met's Bumpy Road with New Opera". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  19. ^ a b Alex Ross (2020-01-10). "The Golijov Issue: Borrowed Music, or Stolen?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  20. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (2012-03-07). "Musical Borrowing Under Scrutiny". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  21. ^ MacDonald, David (24 February 2012). "The Golijov Problem". Archived from the original on 9 September 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  22. ^ Weininger, David (2012-03-16). "Longwood Gets Its Turn with Sidereus". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  23. ^ Osvaldo Golijov. "Golijov's published list of his own compositions". osvaldogolijov.com. Archived from the original on 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2015-10-16.
  24. ^ "Golijov's Yiddishbbuk". ClassicsToday.com. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  25. ^ "Musical Shadings and Unusual Textures – World Music Central.org". worldmusiccentral.org. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Osvaldo Golijov – Oceana". www.boosey.com. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  27. ^ "Osvaldo Golijov's 'St. Mark' Passion finally reaches Los Angeles". Los Angeles Times. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  28. ^ Kozinn, Allan (20 August 2007). "La Pasión según San Marcos; A Work Unbounded By Musical Categories". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  29. ^ LA Philharmonic notes
  30. ^ Golijov, Osvaldo N. "Tenebrae (2002)", osvaldogolijov.com Retrieved on 16 February 2018.
  31. ^ Laura Barnett (2008-04-02). "I love it when music brings people to blows". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  32. ^ Kozinn, Allan (6 February 2006). "CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEW; Skipping Across the Globe and Through Time". The New York Times. p. 4. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  33. ^ Smith, Steve (31 July 2007). "Concerto Retinkered (for Youthful Soloist)". The New York Times. p. 3.
  34. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (23 January 2013). "Philharmonic Steals a Page From the Art World With a New-Music Biennial". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  35. ^ Carr, David (19 March 2008). "Anthony Minghella, 54, Director, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  36. ^ "New Music News Wire". NewMusicBox. 15 February 2008. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  37. ^ Crebo, Anna (2002-11-01). "Osvaldo Golijov: A busy composer finds it all a little 'scary.'". American Record Guide. Retrieved 2009-02-10.

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