Category Archives: Composing

Separating art from artist

Classical music is full of cult figures, all very different from each other, but with one thing in common: they are all human. Yes, I am stating the obvious, but sometimes it is necessary to remind ourselves of this fact, … Continue reading

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The birth of a symphony

I have just delivered the score of my first symphony, “Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda: Symphony in Four Movements” titled after the homonymous novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Commissioned by the Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España to commemorate the … Continue reading

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Inspiration

What is inspiration? What is that spark that ignites our thoughts and makes it possible for us, creative artists, to produce a work of art where there was nothing before? A walk in the woods, a book, a movie, or … Continue reading

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Staying in tune

The equal-tempered scale, where the octave is divided into twelve equal chromatic steps, has dominated western music for over a century. We have been made to believe that its use has been standard since times of Bach, but actually its … Continue reading

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Mastering time

Is it possible for man to master time? Music is a temporal art par excellence, therefore time plays an essential role in the creation of a piece of music. In our effort to understand time we divide it and subdivide … Continue reading

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Sound of sorrow

It is October 6, 1802 and we are in a little town called Heiligenstadt, a Vienna suburb. A 28-year old Beethoven is writing of one of the most heart wrecking testimonies ever to come from an artist. His hearing had … Continue reading

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Overcoming composer’s block

I have the greatest sympathy and respect for those who cultivate music in their free time; their passion and dedication are essential for the survival of our profession. For an amateur musician, playing an instrument, singing in a choir or … Continue reading

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Music and national identity

After listening to my string quartet “La Caresse du Couteau”, composer Toshio Hosokawa confessed to being disappointed at not finding any traces of Peruvian music in it. He then went on to encourage me to utilize folk music from my … Continue reading

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The art of intuition

The 20th century saw the birth of new compositional techniques, but it was not until the second half of that century that a generation of composers collectively embarked on a mission to create music based entirely on abstract logic. The situation is different … Continue reading

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Style or technique?

A quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson reads: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”.  I would be tempted to replace style for technique and principle for style. Composers face the question … Continue reading

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