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Guerrero Francisco

1951 - July 7, born in Linares (Spain).

1957 - Begins his musical studies with his father in Madrid.

1962 - Composes his first piece - a symphony in a "classical style".

1962-69 - Further compositions and studies with Juan Alfonso Garcia.

1969-70 - Sets up an electronic music workshop for Radio Popolar, Granada.

1970 - Receives the "Manual de Falla" composition prize for Facturas.

1972 - Takes part in "Encuentros de Pamplona".

1973 - Represents Spain on the UNESCO International Composers Tribune, and at the Paris Biennial. Begins to work as a radio programmer for the Radio Nacional de España.

1974 - RNE commissions him to write Jondo for the Premio Italia. Prize-winner of the Gaudeamus composition prize (Holland).

1975 - Finalist in the CECA composition competition. Sets up GRUPO GLOSA.

1976 - His piece Actus wins first prize in the CECA competition. Ecce Opus is played at the Royan Festival (France) and is his first performance outside Spain.

1977 - First performance of Concierto da Camara at the Orléans Festival (France).

1978 - First performance of Anemos B at the La Rochelle Festival and of Anemos C at the Saintes Festival (France). The recording of Actus is nominated best record of the year.

1979 - Wins the "Ciudad de Granada" composition competition.

1980 - First performance of Antar Atman, commissioned by the RNE Ars Combinatoria, commissioned by the group "L'itinéraire", receives its first performance in Paris. Signs an exclusive contract with Edizioni Suvini Zerboni. 

1981 - First performance of Epiclesis in Madrid.

1981-82 - Begins his teaching career.

1982 - Vâda, commissioned by the city of Valladolid, is performed in Valladolid. Nominated "Académico Correspondiente" by the Academia de Bellas Artes de Granada.

1983 - First performance of Pâni in Paris.

1984 - Ariadna, commissioned by CDMC, is performed in Madrid.

1985 - Nominated member of the Festival Committee for the Festival of Granada. Sets up a department of computer music at the Las Palmas Universidad Politécnica.

1986 - The Almeida Festival, London, dedicates a whole concert to him which includes the first performance of Erotica, together with performances of Actus and Anemos C. Begins to plan special projects with his group of collaborators from different fields (engineers, computer experts, physicists and architects).

1987 - First performance of Zayin in Paris.

1988 - First performance in Madrid of Rhea, commissioned by CMDC. The start of a close friendship with Luigi Nono.

1989 - First performance in Geneva of Zayin II, commissioned by the Ensemble Contrechamps. Teaches a composition class for the Alicante Festival of Contemporary music.

1991 - Sahara, commissioned by the Festival of Metz, receives its first performance at that festival. Teaches a composition class for the Granada Festival of Dance and Music.

1992 - Delta Cephei, commissioned by the Nieuw Ensemble, performed in Amsterdam.

1993 - Guerrero is awarded the Andalucia Music Prize for his collected oeuvre. Oleada performed at the Alicante Festival. World première of Zayin III at the Venice Biennale.

1994 - First performance of Zayin IV in London by the Arditti String Quartet. Guerrero composes the electronic part for Hyades at the AGON studio in Milan. Hyades premièred during the Varèse Festival.

1995 - Monographic concert at the Ars Musica Festival in Brussels, with performance of Zayin I-VI by the Arditti String Quartet.

1996 - Guerrero works on Coma Berenices for orchestra, and also on the orchestration of Albeniz's Iberia on commission from the Canarias Music Festival.

1997 - In February, the complete Zayin (I-VII) cycle is performed in Seville by the Arditti String Quartet.

1997 - On October 19 Francisco Guerrero dies in Madrid, while working to complete the Albeniz orchestration.

The music of Francisco Guerrero claims our attention, above all, for its inner strength and for a personal energy that reflects the independent stance maintained by the composer throughout his life. Firmly convinced that art embodies the capacity for strong, organic expression, Guerrero undertook a type of research in which compositional rigour walked hand in hand with the demands of a passionate spirit. His was a passion for knowledge, experimentation and exploration of sound to its ultimate consequences. From these stimuli arose the need for profound contact with the various disciplines of knowledge (including mathematics, architecture, physics and computer science, among others), which led him to seek compositional unity on increasingly subtle planes and to consider the sound event in a "global" framework, with a new control over the building blocks of sound.

Equally comfortable with orchestral and chamber, instrumental and vocal music, Guerrero left a small but widely varied catalogue. Our only cause for regret might be the absence of an opera: Morte della Papessa Giovanna - a project Guerrero nurtured throughout his life but never found the opportunity to bring to fruition. His style was clearly defined from the outset. Actus, Concierto de camara, Acte préalable and Ars combinatoria all reveal a variety of timbral and instrumental treatments which, combined with an uncommon exuberance of expression, establish an immediate rapport with the listener. The formal plan of each work is strictly determined through combinatorial procedures, through which every aspect of the work, down to the most minute details, is calculated to achieve the greatest possible unity. In the sphere of solo works, Opus 1, Manual for piano and Pâni for harpsichord, display outstanding vitality through the powerful virtuoso tension that animates them.

The chamber cycle Zayin merits a separate discussion. This is a collection of seven pieces (four for string trio, two for quartet and one for solo violin), that occupied Guerrero for fourteen years, from 1983 to 1997. Built entirely on structures based on the number seven, the microcosm that makes up Zayin distills the purest values of Guerrero's art. Here, the extraordinary impact so characteristic of his style is wed to a quest for secret nuances.

Guerrero's vocal works are linked by a conception of vocality seen as the release of energy even before becoming an instrument of communication. This concept gives rise to Erotica, with its elaborate ornamentation, and Vâda, with its fierce melodic line, while the sonorous magnificence of Anemos B calls to mind the monumentality of the polyphonists of the Siglo de Oro.

Although Guerrero was constantly seeking openings to new horizons and solutions to new problems, his path was one of absolute consistency. Starting with the application of combinatory procedures, the mid-eighties saw him working out a compositional technique based on fractals, i.e.mathematical principles borrowed from the recent chaos theory. The inextricable sonorities of Rhea for 12 saxophones, one of Guerrero's first works to make use of fractal procedures, herald the interest that electronics would hold for the composer some years later. First Cepheidas and then Rigel, and finally Hyades (where electronics blend with live instruments) bear witness to Guerrero's continuing attention to new technologies, beginning with the computer, for which he had created several composition programmes.

Ever more compellingly attracted to the world of microintervals, Guerrero saw the family of stringed instruments as an outstanding vehicle for endowing sound with the physical tension and constant plasticity inherent in his music. This element emerges with the greatest clarity in his orchestral music, where the composer's creative imagery stands out in all its grandiose power. From the thorny, tortured tangle of Ariadna to the fluid polyphony of Oleada, Guerrero was peerlessly skilled in processing dense layers of sound. Sahara, which may well be his masterwork, almost leaves us with the feeling that the sound has weight and occupies space, and that we could touch it by stretching out a hand and be caught up in its whirlwind transformations. The same thing is true of the youthful Antar Atman and of Coma Berenices (his last orchestral work), which combine and summarize the conquests of Guerrero's language in a timbral picture of dazzling variety.

In the energy flowing from Guerrero's music we find something that recalls the ancestral dimensions of the cante jondo: the vocal paroxysms of the melodies sung by the cantaores, the dissonant "grating" of rasgueados played on the guitar. But the "Andalusian" quality of the music should be interpreted as spiritual affinity rather than external analogy; its roots must be traced back to a dynamic conception of sound, to an essential, incisive expressiveness stripped of all pictorial or sentimental qualities. Guerrero's ability to introduce the sonorities typical of his homeland, Andalusia, into a prodigiously innovative linguistic concept has immunized him against the risk of gratuitous, sterile experimentation.

Guerrero thought of sound as existing in a close relationship with matter. He felt it as a tangible substance that can be felt, twisted, recomposed, kneaded, and sculpted. The extension of fractal principles to music thus became the means for probing the bond that unites sound to the essential substance of the world. In this sense, a river was music to Guerrero; a mountain was music. "I want to build music the way a tree is built". The composer was enthralled by this idea: making music breathe with the very roughness of living matter, the complexity of an organic heartbeat.

Recourse to mathematical procedures was not merely a cerebral exercise. Numerical references and the deliberate and almost provocative absence of a programmatic superstructure do not resolve into the practice of an ascetic art, divorced from the world. Rather, the opposite: at the very moment when music lends itself to the service of any message, it automatically gives up a total contact with life.

Like the proud spirit that he was, Guerrero was unwilling to dilute his thinking, as unpalatable as it may have been, in self-complacent eclecticism or diplomatic compromises with the past. In his approach to the audience he was not afraid to express himself with the intransigence and absolute conviction that were his nature. His music may fascinate or repel us, but it can never be parked in a corner or relegated to the background. It always takes centre stage, imposing its power and its presence.

Stefano Russomanno

  • Galante Carlo
  • Garcia Juan Alfonso
  • Gardella Federico
  • Garilli Fabrizio
  • Gaslini Giorgio
  • Gaudiosi Mario
  • Gavazzeni Gianandrea
  • Gelbrun Artur
  • Gentilucci Armando
  • Gentilucci Ottorino
  • Gervasoni Stefano
  • Geymüller Margherita
  • Ghedini Giorgio Federico
  • Ghisi Federico
  • Giacometti Antonio
  • Giani Luporini Gaetano
  • Gillet Bruno
  • Giuliano Giuseppe
  • Glinka Mikhail
  • Gorini Gino
  • Gorli Sandro
  • Gregoretti Lucio
  • Greig Alastair
  • Grosskopf Giovanni
  • Guaccero Domenico
  • Guarino Mario
  • Guarnieri Adriano
  • Guerrero Francisco
  • Guerrini Guido
  • Guinjoan Joan