Aurelio de la Vega was born November 28, 1925, in Havana, Cuba. Trained in diplomacy in Havana, he served for a time as cultural attachè at the Cuban Consulate in Los Angeles. After studying with Ernest Toch in California (1947- 48), de la Vega occupied significant positions in his native Cuba (Dean, Escuela de Música, Universidad de Oriente; Advisor, Instituto Nacional de Cultura; Vice-president, Orquesta Filarmónica de La Habana; Director, Music Department at the University of Oriente, Santiago de Cuba; Music Advisor to the National Institute of Culture). He toured the United States as lecturer (1952-59) and settled in Los Angeles in 1959, where he has been very active as composer, lecturer, and professor.
He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of California State University Northridge. His list of compositions (many published and commercially recorded, almost all commissioned works after 1962) include symphonic pieces, chamber music, piano, solo instruments with tape, song cycles, cantatas, ballet music, guitar and electronic music. His works have been performed by major orchestras, ensembles, prominent soloists, and singers in numerous cities of Cuba, the United States, Europe, Israel, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, México, South Africa, Japan, Puerto Rico, and India. De la Vega He has lectured extensively in Cuba, the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Argentina and Chile, primarily on contemporary music and on the art of Latin America.
His articles and essays have appeared in a myriad of publications from London to Camaguey and from Ottawa to Bolivia. De la Vega is the recipient of numerous prizes, commissions, awards, and distinctions (having received twice the Friedheim Award of the Kennedy Center for the performing Arts) as well as honors and decorations from various governments for his constributions to North American and Latin American music. He is also a well-known essayist on the pictorial art of Latin America.
De la Vega's intense, virtuosic, lyric-dramatic and highly expressive musical vocabulary has been the vehicle for long series of works which include all media except opera. The composer has combined pan-tonality, atonality, serial procedures, open forms and electronic elements with a highly structured musical lexicon often underlined by sharp and strong rhythmic patterns. While occasionally using Cuban melo-rhythms, his musical language has continued personal and contemporary. In the words of musicologist George Skapski, "De la Vega's style is characterized by an angular treatment of the voices, passionate arch forms, vigorous motoric cells and an intense preoccupation with instrumental color."
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