ENRIQUE SORO (1884 - 1954)
Enrique Soro Barriga was born in Concepción, Chile, on 15th July 1884. His Italian-born father Giuseppe, who had settled in Concepción in 1870, was a musician, composer and piano/singing teacher. His mother Pilar ran a school and taught French. The family home hosted many a musical and literary gathering, inspiring a love of music in the Soro Barriga children.
Initially taught by his father, Soro made rapid progress in his musical education. Giuseppe’s death led Pilar to apply to the Chilean government for a grant enabling Enrique to study in Europe. He set sail in 1898, originally with a view to studying at the Paris Conservatoire; he soon changed his mind, however, and was admitted instead to the Milan Conservatory, where his father had been a student forty years earlier.
In 1904 Soro graduated in composition, and was awarded a prize as the best student in his year. Towards the end of that year, he travelled to Paris to showcase some of his works, the eminent Quatuor Geloso performing his String Quartet in A at the Salle Pleyel. In 1905, when he was still only 21, he returned to Chile to add his contribution to the nascent classical music scene. By then he already had more than 70 compositions to his name, many of them for solo piano, others for voice and piano, and five major works: Melodia for string quintet (1902), Suite per piccola orchestra (1902), String Quartet in A (1903), Sonata in D minor for violin and piano (1903) and the Variaciones sinfónicas (1904).
He immediately embarked upon a busy career in music, combining composition, conducting and teaching; he was also put in charge of state school music education and, between 1919 and 1927, was director of the National Conservatory. In 1916 he travelled to Washington, and while in the US established an important relationship with the leading New York-based publisher G. Schirmer. Thereafter his music began to be published and performed around the world.
Shortly after composing his Suite en estilo antiguo (1943), which proved to be his final orchestral work, Soro suffered the tragedy of his wife’s premature death in 1944. Four years later he was awarded the Chilean National Arts Prize, but remained grief-stricken, and his final compositions are all tinged with an elegiac melancholy. Enrique Soro died suddenly on the evening of 3rd December 1954.