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Gustavo Becerra-Schmidt: The "Chilean Mozart" passes away

img  Tobias

Becerra-Schmidt's early years in Chile were more than promising, after all: He studied with Humberto Allende and Domingo Santa Cruz, both widely regarded as two of the country's most seminal composers. After obtaining his degree at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Santiago in 1951, the young artist set out follow up his education with classes in the most important cultural centres of the old world – an experience which would lead to insightful essays on the crisis of academic teaching. When Chile slowly veered towards the left and socialist ideas began dominating politics, he became more politically engaged and, under the presidency of Allende, served as a Cultural Attaché to the Chilean Embassy in Bonn between 1971 and 1973. When the Allende-government was toppled, Becerra-Schmidt involuntarily went down with it. He lost his position and remained in Germany for the rest of his life as a professor at Oldenburg.

There, he developed a prolific energy: Over the years, Becerra-Schmidt has expressed himself in almost every imaginable idiom and musical form. He remained active well into his late 70s and early 80s, when Federico Schumacher visited him in Oldenburg to finalise the release of „Obra Electroacústica“. As Schumacher remembers: „The main criterion here was keeping the original information from the sources - mostly reel-to-reel tapes- attenuating their hissing qualities, but not eradicating them. There are some pieces - because of time passing - with both digital and analog overloaded sections, which were also attenuated to facilitate listening.“ The collection even contained a new track written in 2008 – testimony to a mind that would not cease to come up with new ideas, concepts and sounds.

Even though this stream of thoughts has now run dry, Gustavo Becerra-Schmidt's unique own voice will continue to resound in the recordings he has left behind – as well as in the works of his pupils, including some of Chile's finest new composers.

Homepage: Gustavo Becerra-Schmidt (Spanish only)
Homepage: Pueblo Nuevo

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