A comparative style-critical analysis of representative piano works by Alberto Ginastera with specific reference to his application of the Malambo dance rhythm

Master Thesis


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There is currently insufficient academic literature on the South American composer Alberto Ginastera and his compositional mastery. Ginastera's music is meticulously put together to create some of the most original examples of South American music in the twentieth century. He incorporated numerous Argentinian rhythmic and melodic elements into his music. The assimilation of the malambo dance rhythm, a fast-paced and heavily syncopated rhythmic device, within his music features throughout his vast oeuvre. This dissertation analyses and compares a selection of piano works written by Alberto Ginastera. The selected works are representative of the assimilation of the malambo dance rhythm within a selection of piano compositions. These piano works represent Ginastera's compositional output from one his first published works to his last published work, allowing for a thorough investigation into the composer's development over an extensive timespan. This study seeksto understand how Ginastera's assimilation of the malambo dance rhythm developed from his objective nationalistic works to his subjective nationalistic works, and finally to his neo-expressionist works. It takes an integrative approach to investigate how the musical parameters surrounding the utilisation of the malambo dance rhythm are applied, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the composer's compositional style. The conclusion of the study shows how the musical parameters surrounding the malambo dance rhythm occurrences develop organically, with different techniques being applied interchangeably in an increasingly sophisticated manner. Due to the limited academic sources on Alberto Ginastera, additional research is needed to further comprehend and appreciate the works of the composer and his influence on classical music in the twentieth century.