Though less well known in the US, composer Valdo Sciammarella, (1924–present) is a legend in his native Argentina. He began his career as a concert pianist in Buenos Aires but has always worked as a composer and choral director. In the 1950s, his unique compositional style begins to develop. During this time, he composed Cantigas de Amigo and a series of symphonic and vocal works including Cantata para la fundación de Buenos Aires and Cánticos rituales based on the texts of the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. In 1958, he won a National Prize for his opera, Marianita limeña.
He also composed for theater and for film: for the latter, twenty-four works written between the years 1953–1968 and four films, including Spilimbergo, a documentary about the painter, which was presented in the Bienal cinematográfica of Venice in 1960. In the 1960s, with the German choreographer, Renate Schottelius, he composed several works for ballet, and wrote Canciones para la vida y para la muerte, commissioned by the soprano, Phyllis Curtin, which premiered at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
From the 1950s to the present, Sciammarella continues his prolific career, redefining his own music as well as musical genres. These talents earned him a place as a member of the National Academy of the Arts in 1985. In 1991, he was honored with a national prize by the Argentine government for la Sonata en Mí. In 1995, he won the prize “Malvinas argentinas” for el Concierto para piano y orquesta. Canciones de amor earned the Carlos López Buchardo prize in 1992.
He continues to challenge and stretch his musical genius with creations such as the 2001 Sinfonía “Verra la morte”, based on the work of Cesare Pavese.
He has directed the choirs of the Wagnerian Association of Buenos Aires, the Caracas Opera, and the National Lyrical Theater of the Zarzuela in Madrid and since 1997 has filled the role of Director of the Children’s Choir for the Teatro Colón.
(Contribution by Diane Roebuck McNaron.)