Oscar Edelstein: Composer - Pianist
Oscar Edelstein is considered crucial in the map of Latin American contemporary music, new opera and performance. Always pushing the lines between the classical, the contemporary and the popular, his music has been described as the first time that Latin America has led the avant-garde, and at the sametime is noted for it’s accessibility.
His career is has been continually distinguished for breaking new ground, and having been awarded important prizes throughout, in 2011 he was honoured with the highly prestigious award from the National Arts Foundation of Argentina for out-standing artistic achievement, and was made Citizen Illustrious of his hometown.
Born in La Paz, in the province of Entre Ríos in Argentina, he studied piano from a young age, until moving to Buenos Aires were his formation as a composer was led by relevant Argentinean teachers such as José Maranzano, Mariano Etkin and Francisco Kröpfl - all of whom were in the line of Juan Carlos Paz who was the composer renowned for first bringing the techniques of the Second Vienna School to Argentina.
In a recent return to orchestral composition, his work "Cristal Argento I" (commissioned by Basel Sinfonietta) for full orchestra with the electronic process of the “Sonic Crystal”, was premiered in Switzerland in 2011. Presented as a traditional score, Edelstein used the electronic process to act like a transparency. The software programme was designed by a research team of Edelstein and physicist Manuel Eguia at LAPSO (Laboratory of Acoustics and Sound Perception) at Quilmes University where he is a senior professor and leads an award winning research team of physicists, mathematicians, mechanical engineers, musicians and composers who are researching his ideas for “Acoustic Theatre.”
In his compositions Edelstein frequently explores the interplay between music and theatre, where voice and speech interplay with music and technology. He has a close connection to theatre and dance having made music for the theatre of Argentina’s most important directors such as Roberto Villanueva, including productions of Tabori’s “Las Variaciones Golberg” (2003), Albee’s “El Juego del Bebé ” (2001), Estrázulas’s “Borges and Perón” (1998), Handke’s “Las personas no razonables están en vías de extinción” (1997), and many others.
Edelstein is also known for his many operatic works; "La Carta Imaginaria" (2014), “El Caballo Fantasma” (2011), “Eterna Flotación: los monstruito’” (commissioned by CETC Centro de Experimentación del Teatro Colón - 2006), “La Teoría Sagrada del Espacio Acústico” (2000–2001), “El Tiempo, La Condena” (1999), “El Hecho” (1998), and “Klange, Klange, Urutau” (1997) amongst others. The works were commissioned by Teatro Colón and Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación for the Ciclo Iberoamericano de Ópera Contemporánea at the Centro Nacional de la Música.
Committment to the Avant-garde
As a senior professor Edelstein is often asked to lead masterclasses and postgraduate studies based on his own works, theories and composition techniques in many of the most prestigious Latin American and European institutions, including; Manhattan School of Music, and Columbia University (USA); Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music (London), University of Central England (Birmingham), Royal Northern College of Music & Drama (Manchester), University of Wales (Aberystwyth), University of Music and Performing Arts (Vienna), and so on.
In the last few years he has returned to writing orchestral works and has received commissions from Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Argentina, Basel Sinfonietta and London Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others.
Part of a map of the composition for the opera "A Horse Bleeding Shakespeare" chosen my Malta International Festival for an exhibition.
In 1997, Edelstein created his own ensemble, the Ensamble Nacional del Sur, in order to test out his own theories and methods of composition. He directs the ENS with a system of traditional notation combined with a new 3-dimensional models that he created. This enables him to conduct the ensemble with a specially developed system of hand signals that allow him not only designate time and intensity but also timbrical and spatial options. He sees the group as a new musical instrument which has developed its particular use of sound colour, and so whilst the format is closer to that of a rock group than that of a classical contemporary ensemble, the sound is very different.
Each of the members of the ENS are composers as well as musicians and thus can respond with high precision to Edelstein's directions. They train intensively so as to play without scores and as if the music is written in their own bodies. They have taken part in various of Edelstein's operas. The current group is the third generation: Axel Lastra (Piano & Keyboards), Leonardo Salzano (Electric Guitar), Pablo Torterolo (Drums), Alfonso Ollúa (Electric Bass) and Mauro Zannoli (Keyboards & Electronic Processes). The group is often joined by guest artists: Deborah Claire Procter (Voice) and Martin Proscia (Saxophone).
The first disc of the ENS "The Sacred Theory of the Acoustic Space" was recorded and conceived in Super Audio 5:1. On the second disc "Studies for the Acoustic Grid" published by Patina (Amsterdam) the ensemble are joined by two important Argentinean musicians Marcelo Moguilevsky (Clarinet) and Ernesto Jodos (Piano). Music critic Diego Fischerman (Pagina 12) described it as "a fundamental disc for its importance and originality, but especially for its power of communication.”
Free ranging comparisons have been made from free jazz, King Crimson, Hermeto Pascual, Cecil Taylor and Frank Zappa; to Edgar Varese, the Quinteto of Piazzolla and many others, however the uniqueness of the ENS is that their music is outside any pre-defined genres, what is more they need to be experienced live, where their use of quadraphony gives an added dimension to their music.
on the ENS
“It’s impossible to pigeonhole and classify that which knocks down genres but at the same time contains all within something new.” EL DIARIO
The electronic part carries the game of the orchestra into another space, another world, another sound universe, like a dream, like a recollection, or how it looks through a kaleidoscope, a prism with various refractions. A powerful percussion mechanism machine was in action, concentrated beams of sound of stream over the listener. It was exciting to hear such avant-garde new music from Latin America. Roswitha Frey, Badische Zeitung
The rhythmical, multilayered sound fields develop like waves. Edelstein’s close woven music, continuing the tradition of Varèse, has a force which goes under the skin with great vitality. Christian Fluri, Basellandschaftliche Zeitung