Alberto Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires on 11 April 1916 and died on 25 June 1983 in Geneva. Several of the fifty-five works he composed stand as landmarks of Latin-American artistic creation and have earned him a place - together with the Mexican Carlos Chavez and the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos - among the greatest composers of the twentieth century. As well as two concertos for piano, one for violin, two for cello, and one for harp, he wrote two operas, ballet music, orchestral music, chamber music and a dozen works for solo piano.
Ginastera himself divided his compositions into three stylistic periods: objective nationalism, subjective nationalism and Neo-expressionism. His most frequently performed works, including the Three Argentinian Dances, Op.2, the ballet Estancia and the Malambo, Op.7. These works belong to the first period (1937-48) in which he made direct use of elements whose origins lay in the traditions of Argentinian folk music. Ginastera moved away from these during the second period - subjective nationalism - although, for example, he still saw the role of the melody as very significant. Rhythmic contrasts, emotionally charged atmospheres, and strong oppositions between mounting and subsiding tension were still present, if less overtly, as symbols identifying his language (in works such as Pampeana No.3 for orchestra and Piano Sonata No.1, Op.22). Both the First Piano Concerto (Op.28, premiered in Washington in April 1962), and the Second Piano Concerto (Op. 39) belong to the third period: Neo-expressionism. In fact, this period began with the Second String Quartet, Op.26, of 1958 and continued with some of his most important works, such as the Cantata para America magica, Op.27 (1960). By this time he was no longer using melodic or rhythmic motifs from folk music, nor any symbolic elements, and yet Argentinian traits remain: strong, obsessive rhythms, meditative adagios evoking the tranquility of the pampas, and magical, mysterious sonorities which recall his country's impenetrable nature.