OSIAS WILENSKI (b 1933 )
Osias Wilenski was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1933, the son of a Polish father and a Russian mother. From an early age he studied piano with Professor Vicente Scaramuzza and harmony, counterpoint and composition with Erwin Leuchter (himself a pupil of Alban Berg). From him stemmed an early interest in 12-tone music. During the ’50s and with the help of pianist Arthur Rubinstein, Wilenski won a scholarship to The Juilliard School of Music in New York, where he resided for several years. There, he studied composition with William Bergsma, William Schuman and Vincent Persichetti. He was also the only private piano pupil of virtuoso Simon Barere, and performed in New York’s Hunter College and Town Hall.
When back in Argentina he continued his piano tours but in 1960 decided that this was not his real vocation and abandoned music to dedicate himself to a career in cinema and television. During this time he produced several short films. Moto Perpetuo won first prize at the Mar del Plata film festival, and Ramon Gomez de la Serna, about the house of the famous Spanish writer, won the short film prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. Osias Wilenski also produced and directed two feature films, the l962 El Perseguidor, based on a short story by Julio Cortazar and Dale Nomás (l966) a film made up of sketches.
In 1975, after several years of directing the newly opened television channel Canal 13, he went back to music, taking up a position as piano tutor at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. He also returned to his work as a composer. He destroyed many of his youthful works, but rewrote others and slowly, these came to be known and performed.
In 1978 he was awarded the ‘Ensemblia’ first prize from the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra for his work Improvisos. In 1983 he won the first prize from the ‘Asociación Wagneriana’ for his work La Leyenda del Kakuy, a musical poem for six instruments, based on an Indian legend from a central province of Argentina. In 1989, partly because of the inflammatory situation in Argentina, but also because of a contract to work as principal pianist at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, he left his native country and emigrated to Spain where he still lives in Barcelona, and has adopted Spanish nationality.
The most active and fertile years of Wilenski’s compositional career came after 1990. The catalogue of his works includes five string quartets, songs, chamber works, three piano sonatas and shorter piano works, a symphony for large orchestra and a second one for symphonic band, to be premièred during 2015.
In 2007 Wilenski begun a series of recordings featuring his piano and chamber works, all of which are composer-performed or supervised. These recordings were made for Parma Recordings in the USA and Columna Music in Spain. This recording is his first on the Naxos label.