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Blas Atehortúa

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Blas Emilio Atehortúa

Biography

Blas Emilio Atehortúa (22 October 1943, Medellin, Colombia – 5 January 2020, Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia) was a Colombian composer and educator.

His first musical studies were carried out at the Instituto de Bellas Artes de Medellín. In 1959 he entered the National Conservatory in Bogotá, where he studied theory and composition with Olav Roots, F. González Zuleta, José Rozo Contreras and Andrés Pardo Tovar. From this period some minor works rooted in tradition stand out, for chamber instrumental groups and three orchestral works that denote primary concerns of a raw talent.

After his studies in Colombia, Atehortúa traveled to Buenos Aires to study at the Centro de Altos Estudios Torcuato Di Tella. During his time in Buenos Aires, he came into contact with a number of influential young Latin American composers, as well as the great European composers of that time, such as Xenakis, Messiaen, Malipiero, Dallapiccola, Ginastera, and Maderna.

Atehortúa held a number of important positions, including composer-in-residence at the National Network of Youth Orchestras of Venezuela, known as "El Sistema," as well as teaching positions at the Universities of Santander, Bucaramanga, and Duchesne University (U.S.).

He won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1992.

A multifaceted and prolific composer, Blas Emilio Atehortúa was considered to be one of Latin America's leading musical artists. His 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 assigned 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 Bela Bartok and the modern Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera.


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