Costa Rican Composer Benjamín Gutiérrez and his Piano Works

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Juan Pablo Andrade (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
John Salmon

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to research the life and work of Costa Rican composer Benjamín Gutiérrez (b.1937), with particular emphasis on his solo piano works. Although comprised of a small number of pieces, his piano output is an excellent representation of his musical style. Gutiérrez is regarded as one of Costa Rica's most prominent composers, and has been the recipient of countless awards and distinctions. His works are known beyond Costa Rican borders only to a limited extent; thus one of the goals of this investigation is to make his music more readily known and accessible for those interested in studying it further. The specific works studied in this project are his Toccata y Fuga, his lengthiest work for the piano, written in 1959; then five shorter pieces written between 1981 and 1992, namely Ronda Enarmónica, Invención, Añoranza, Preludio para la Danza de la Pena Negra and Danza de la Pena Negra. The study examines Gutiérrez's musical style in the piano works and explores several relevant issues, such as his relationship to nationalistic or indigenous sources, his individual use of musical borrowing, and his stance toward tonality/atonality. He emerges as a composer whose aesthetic roots are firmly planted in Europe, with strong influence from nineteenth-century Romantics such as Chopin and Tchaikovsky, but also the "modernists" Bartók, Prokofiev, Milhaud, and Ginastera, the last two of whom were Gutiérrez's teachers. The research is divided into six chapters, comprising an introduction, an overview of the development of art music in Costa Rica, a biography of Gutiérrez, a brief account of piano music in the country before Gutiérrez and up to the present day, a detailed study of his solo piano compositions, and conclusions. Since this music is not readily available outside Costa Rica, this paper includes an appendix with all of Gutiérrez's solo piano pieces, including the author's editorial suggestions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Benjamín Gutiérrez, piano music composers, Costa Rican composers
Piano music--20th century--History and criticism
Gutie´rrez, Benjamin, 1937-
Composers--Costa Rica--Biography

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