Sunday, October 24, 2010

Antonio Lauro

Antonio Lauro
Antonio Lauro lived as a Venezuelan guitarist and composer. He was born in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela. His father was an Italian immigrant who sang and played the guitar. He taught his son what he knew, but died when Antonio was still a young child.
After the death of Lauro’s father, the family moved to Caracas, where Lauro started his musical studies at the Academia de Musica y Declamacion.. Before he became a guitarist, he studied piano at the Caracas Conservatory. Composer Vincente Emilio Sojo was one of Antonio’s teachers in piano. After hearing the Paraguayan guitarist Agustin Barrios, he became inspired to play the guitar. From 1933, he began studying classical guitar with Raul Borges.
Antonio Lauro became a member of the Trio CantoresDel Tropico where he sang and played both guitar and the cuatro. He was characterized for his distinctive syncopation. He composed dozens of works for orchestra, choir, piano and voice.
At around 1951, Lauro was imprisoned for his belief in democracy. He had only remained in prison for about a year, where he continued composing. He immediately returned to performing and formed the Trio Raul Borges right after he got out of prison. He eventually became a professor of guitar at several schools including the Juan Jose Landaeta Conservatory. He was named president of the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra and was given the Premio Nacional de Musica shortly before his death in 1986.

The first three of the Four Valses Venezolanos were composed in Ecuador in 1938-40. The latter is by far Lauro's most famous work, commonly known as "Vals criollo" (the title under which it was recorded by Andrés Segovia), or as "Vals No.3" (the title under which it was published in 1963). The fourth waltz, Yacambú, is in rondo form having curious chromaticisms and unexpected harmonies; it was named after a picturesque mountainous area of western Venezuela.

Lauro wrote Suite Venezolana, consisting of Registro (Prelude), Danza Negra, Canción, and Vals, during his imprisonment in 1951-52. The curiously named first movement, Registro, refers to the sort of improvising ("registrar") a musician might do to warm up his hands or to explore a new or unfamiliar instrument; it is therefore equivalent to the Italian term "ricercare" as it was used originally used in the Renaissance. La Tumba, is quoted in both of the last two movements, a typical "canción de serenata" (serenade song) and a "vals". In 1971 Lauro wrote the waltz El niño, dedicated to his eldest son, Leonardo.
El Negrito and La Gatica were published together in 1984; they were intended to be played as a pair. Lauro's Tríptico consists of three pieces in E minor which the composer collected together to comply with a request from Andrés Segovia. The first of these, Armida, is a contemplative song named after the composer's sister. Madrugada ("before dawn") is an appoggiatura study inspired by one of Sojo's few original works for guitar. Lauro composed this piece in 1974, shortly after the death of his beloved "maestro". La Negra was composed in August, 1976.
Seis por derecho: a Joropo, a version of this energetic regional dance. The next four pieces were classic "valses venezolanos" (Venezuelan waltzes) , unpublished until 1983, named after one of the composer's nieces. El Marabino (a more common term is "maracucho") refers to a native of Maracaibo, an important city where Lauro himself lived for a time. Lauro once told his pupil Luis Zea that he had named a new composition Maria Luisa after his wife, and that the piece was as difficult as she was – a comment which later caused "Señora" Lauro to burst into laughter. In fact, it is a very romantic work, the second section of which was inspired by Chopin's Waltz in A flat, Op. 69, No. 1. Angostura is the ancient name for Ciudad Bolívar, Lauro's birthplace.


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