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[#28] February 3, 2020

1989 | Wind Orchestra | Grade 5 | 10’- 15’ | Contemporary

Colombian composer, conductor and teacher, Blas Emilio Atehortúa Amaya

Colombian composer, conductor and teacher, Blas Emilio Atehortúa Amaya passed away on January 5th 2020 at 76 years of age.

The multifaceted and prolific composer is regarded as one of Latin America’s leading musical artists. His works have been performed worldwide.

After his studies in Colombia, he obtained a scholarship to study in Buenos Aires at the “Centro de Altos Estudios Torcuato Di Tella”. This institution offered him the possibility to get in contact with the young Latin American composers, as well as the great European composers of that time, such as Xenakis, Messiaen, Malipiero, Dallpiccola, Ginastera and Maderna.

Among important positions, he was composer-in-residence at the National Network of Youth Orchestras of Venezuela, known as “El Sistema”. As a teacher he had an intense activity in his home country, at the Universities of Santander and Bucaramanga. He has held also a position at Duchesne University (USA).

Atehortúa’s music displays a great interest in rhythm, orchestral experimentation, use of ancient forms, and a free approach to tonality and counterpoint. Inspired by elements from the Baroque, he frequently assigns titles to his compositions that reflect his deep appreciation for this early period in music history. Other notable influences can be found in the music of Béla Bartok and the modern Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera.

His catalogue is huge but sadly a lot of his music is still to be edited and put into circulation. He leaves behind vocal music, with many sacred works, choir and orchestral music, song cycles, instrumental music, solo works, chamber music, electro-acoustical works, and many arrangements and transcriptions of other fellow composers, such as “Doce Preludios Americanos” by Alberto Ginastera, and Three Preludes, by Gershwin, both works transcribed for wind ensemble.

Atehortúa has written for Robert Austin Boudreau and the American Wind Symphony Orchestra at least for works: Concerto for Oboe, Concerto for two marimbas, Concerto for Bass Trombone and the Fantasia Concertante for solo piano and winds.


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