Ginastera

Danza de la Moza Donosa (dance of the gracious maiden)

Speaking of Ginastera, there is an interesting anecdote concerning Ginastera and the British progressive rock band Emerson Lake and Palmer (ELP). I had heard this story several times and it is recounted to great detail here. I have no clue if that account is accurate, but at least some parts are similar to what I had heard before. This is the anecdote (I copied parts of it verbatim from http://www.ladiesofthelake.com/cabinet/bssliner.html)

“I originally head the Ginastera piece when I was with my former band, The Nice,” Emerson recalls. ” We were playing in Los Angeles, doing one of these television spectaculars with a big orchestra, and while I was down in the dressing room, I heard these incredible sounds.”

“I ran upstairs and a pianist was hammering away at the piano; I grabbed him afterwards and said, “what the hell was that you were playing?! It turned out to be the Ginastera piano concerto. When I heard Ginastera, I understood where some of Leonard Bernstein’s music had come from, it evoked all of West Side Story.”

“But “Toccata” was fraught with more than mere musical complexity. “It suddenly came to our consideration,” says Emerson, “do we have the rights to put this music on our new album? I called up Ginastera’s publishers, and their initial reaction was ‘Sorry, Ginastera will not allow any adaptation of his music. If you care to call him, here’s his number.’ I phoned him in Geneva and his wife, Aurora, said, ‘You must come to Geneva – tomorrow,’ so I rang up my manager and said, ‘We’re off to Geneva tomorrow!’ We flew to Geneva, then drove up to his apartment block. The maid let us in, and we walked through a lavish hall setting and into the living room. There, standing at attention and dressed in a suit, almost like a bank manager, was Alberto Ginastera, ready to receive us. I was very nervous meeting the guy. Here’s an international composer, very well respected and her is, in his eye, a rock ‘n’ roll band playing his music.”

“We desperately needed to get ‘Toccata’ on Brain Salad Surgery If we didn’t the release date would have had to have been pushed back, and we’d have had to come up with another idea. It really all hung on the permission of Ginastera and his publishers.

“I discussed with him what I’d done, then held my breath and let him listen to it. He played it on a tape recorder, and after the first five or six bars, he switched the tape recorder off and looked across at his wife in sort of disbelief and said, ‘Diabolic!’ I thought he meant it was diabolical – that it was bad! Because he’d been playing the tape recorder in mono, and we had a stereo tape, I jumped up and switched the deck to stereo. But he wasn’t concentrating on that, he was completely bewildered by the music. He wound it back to the beginning and played it again. At the end, he said, “That’s incredible! You’ve captured the essence of my music, and nobody’s ever done that before.’ I didn’t know what to say; I could’ve fallen through the floor. At that moment nothing else mattered to me. The other criticisms of the band meant absolutely nothing.”

This is Ginastera’s “Toccata concertata” (from the piano concert n° 1 op. 28)

And this is the ELP version:

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4 thoughts on “Ginastera

  1. Hey, that was serious stuff!

    I knew the ELP version (it was… well, it is one of my favorite bands) but I didn’t know the original Ginastera work and the story.

    Thanks!

    btw, I love those analog synthesizers. They never sounded the same!

    • hahaha yeah it was serious!
      I agree with you with the analog synthesizers. These guys played these massive Moogs, I am sure they do not make them like that nowadays!

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