Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, born in 1916 in Buenos Aires, is widely regarded as one of the most original South American composers of the twentieth century. He began his music studies at an early age and when he was twelve, entered the Williams Conservatory. In 1945, after receiving a Guggenheim Foundation grant, Ginastera visited the United States.
Ginastera’s works include several music genres: operas, ballets, orchestral works, concertos, cantatas, chamber works and music for theatre and film. As a major representative of musical nationalism, he divided his works into three periods: objective nationalism, subjective nationalism and Neo-expressionism. In his early works during the objective nationalism period (1937-1948), Ginastera used Argentine folk rhythms and popular elements as evidenced in Argentine Dances Op.2 for piano and in the ballet Estancia.
During his subjective nationalism period, symbols identifying his language -- rhythmic contrasts and emotionally charged atmospheres -- were less overt, as heard in Pampeana No.3 for orchestra and Piano Sonato No.1, Op. 22. The Neo-expressionism period began in 1958 with the Second String Quartet, Op.26. Although Ginastera was no longer using melodic motifs from folk music, such Argentenian traits as obsessive rhythms and meditative adagios remained. An important work of this period was his Popul Vuh for orchestra.