LEONARDO BALADA (b 1933 )
Born in Barcelona on 22 September 1933, Leonardo Balada graduated from the Conservatorio del Liceu of that city and The Juilliard School in 1960. He studied composition with Vincent Persichetti, Aaron Copland and conducting with Igor Markevitch. Since 1970 he has been teaching at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he is University Professor of Composition. Some of his best known works were written in a dramatic avant-garde style in the sixties (Guernica, María Sabina, Steel Symphony, No-res). He is credited with pioneering a blend of ethnic music with those avant-garde techniques, creating a very personal style starting with Sinfonía en Negro: Homage to Martin Luther King (1968), followed by Homage to Casals (1975) and Homage to Sarasate (1975). Balada has received several international awards. He also received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters that “honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice”.
Balada’s works are performed by the world’s leading orchestras, such as the philharmonics of New York, Los Angeles, Israel; the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, the symphonies of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, Dallas, Washington D.C., Milwaukee, Oregon, Prague, Düsseldorf, Barcelona, São Paulo, Mexico; the radio orchestras of Leipzig, Berlin, Berne, Madrid, Hanover, Moscow, Helsinki, Luxembourg, BBC (Manchester), Jerusalem; the National Orchestras of Spain, Lyon, Toulouse, Marseille, Ireland, Colombia and Peru, among others, conducted by artists such as Lorin Maazel, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Jesús López-Cobos, Lukas Foss, Mariss Jansons, Jorge Mester, Sergiu Comissiona, Neville Marriner and others.
A large number of Balada’s compositions are recorded on Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, Albany and New World Records. They include Steel Symphony and Music for Oboe and Orchestra with the Pittsburgh Symphony conducted by Lorin Maazel, and the cantatas No-res, Torquemada and Maria Sabina. One of his Naxos recordings—three concertos for piano, guitar and flute—was selected by Amazon.com as one of the “Ten Best Recordings of 2001” in the classical instrumental music category, and also won the prestigious Rosette awarded by the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs. Balada’s large catalogue of works includes chamber and symphonic compositions, cantatas, two chamber operas and four full length ones: Zapata, Christopher Columbus, its sequel Death of Columbus and Faust-bal. Christopher Columbus was given its première in Barcelona in 1989 with José Carreras and Montserrat Caballé singing the leading rôles, and attracted international attention. The New York Times described the work as “a gift to his native Catalonia” while the Washington Times called it “a masterpiece… a landmark score in the lyric theater of our time”. Christopher Columbus [Naxos 8.660237-38] and Death of Columbus [Naxos 8.660193-94] have been released on Naxos. Recent world premières include the Concerto for Three Cellos and Orchestra performed by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Una Pequeña Musica Nocturna en Harlem performed by the Hungarian Symphony Chamber Orchestra and Caprichos No. 4 for Double Bass and Orchestra performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Orchestra. The chamber operas Hangman, Hangman! and The Town of Greed [Naxos 8.557090] received their world première performances respectively at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid and the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona. The opera Faust-bal, to a libretto by Fernando Arrabal, was first performed in 2009 at the Teatro Real, Madrid.
Balada’s principal publishers are G. Schirmer, Inc. and Beteca Music, and he is represented by Music Associates of America.
For more information, please visit www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/balada/index.htm.