Paul Desenne

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Paul Desenne (Caracas (Venezuela), 7 December 1959)[1] is a Venezuelan cellist and composer, whose composition style fuses elements from native Latin American and European music.

Early life[edit]

Desenne grew up in Caracas and played in the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra. He went on to study composition for 11 years in Paris.[2]


Desenne's main instrument is the cello.[3] He won first prize in cello performance at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris.[4]


In 2002 Desenne took a break from teaching and performance to concentrate on composition.[3] Desenne's works have been performed in major venues around the world, including Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Joan and Sanford I. Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.[4] On 4 September 2016 Desenne's work Hipnosis mariposa was premiered at The BBC Proms[5][6] by Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

Desenne's "unique compositional style"[7] exhibits a "musical hybridization"[8] of influences from European classical music and indigenous Latin American traditions.[3] "His works, though easily classified as art music, nevertheless gain much of their emotional and referential meaning through this rich borrowing."[7]

Fellowships and positions[edit]

In 2006 Desenne became a Fellow at Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy,[9] and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009.[4] During 2010-11 he was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.[4]

He has been resident composer with FESNOJIV (El Sistema) in Venezuela.[10] He writes a weekly column on music for the Venezuelan national newspaper El Nacional.[4] As of 2016 he is Composer in Residence with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.[2]


Desenne has written instrumental music for cello, flute, and combinations of instruments, and is writing an opera based on the story of coffee cultivation.[3]

  • Gurrufío for flute orchestra (1997)[7]
  • Solo Flute Sonata (2001)[7]
  • "Jaguar Songs" (2002),[3] a sonata for solo cello[8]
  • "The Two Seasons of the Caribbean Tropics" (2003),[3] a violin concerto
  • Guasa Macabra for flute and clarinet (2003)[7]
  • Sinfonía Burocratica ed’Amazzonica (2004), a "tropical symphony in five movements"[11]
  • Palenkumbé (2007), an overture incorporating Latin rhythms and folk songs[2]
  • Gran Cacelorazo (2010), a piece for piano, percussion, and strings[4]
  • La Revoltosa, two chamber works for clarinet[4]
  • Hipnosis Mariposa (2014)
  • "Life of Benjamin: a Monkey Symphony" (2015)[12]
  • Symphony No. 5 (2016)[2]
  • Guasamacabra for orchestra (2018)


  1. ^ Paul Desenne (b12/07/1959) Archived 2016-05-08 at the Wayback Machine, Classics Online
  2. ^ a b c d Michael Huebner, "ASO’s Classical Edge: Composer Paul Desenne on Thursday", ArtsBham, 29 February 2016
  3. ^ a b c d e f History of Coffee Inspires Radcliffe Fellow’s Opera", Harvard Gazette, July 15, 2011
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Paul Desenne, 2010–2011 Rieman and Baketel Fellow for Music, Radcliffe Institute
  5. ^ "The BBC Proms 2016: few surprises, but a solid programme". Guardian. London.
  6. ^ Prom 67: Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel, Royal Albert Hall
  7. ^ a b c d e Javier A. Montilla, "THE FLUTE MUSIC OF PAUL DESENNE: A COMPARATIVE ANALYTICAL STUDY OF REPRESENTATIVE WORKS", Doctoral document, University of Nebraska
  8. ^ a b Rondón, Tulio Jose. "Cultural hybridization in the music of Paul Desenne: An integration of Latin American folk, pop and indigenous music with Western classical traditions". University of Arizona Campus Repository, 2005.
  9. ^ Fellows: Paul Desenne, Civitella Ranieri
  10. ^ Paul Desenne - Venezuela/USA, Quinteto Latino (QL) Latin American Chamber Music Festival
  11. ^ "Paul Desenne’s Sinfonía Burocratica ed’Amazzonica & Prokofiev 3 with Lang Lang and LA Phil", Gustavo Dudamel, 7 May 2014
  12. ^ Composer Spotlight: Paul Desenne, Classical Edge, Alabama Symphony Orchestra

External links[edit]