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Guinjoan, Joan

Born on November 28, 1931 in Riudoms (Tarragona, Spain), deceased on January 1st 2019 in Barcelona (Spain). Joan Guinjoan has contributed to several fields of music, including the interpretation as a professional pianist, the diffusion of twentieth-century music and, fundamentally, the composition.

Piano concertmaster (1955-1960)
He studied piano in Reus, at the Superior Conservatory of Barcelona with A. Ribó and at L'École Normale in Paris where in 1955 he made his debut as a pianist in the “Salle Cortot”. During this period, Guinjoan dedicated his musical life to the piano giving concerts of the traditional classic repertoire throughout Spain, France and Germany.

Director of the chamber ensemble Diabolus in Musica (1965-1986)
He founded the Diabolus in Musica chamber ensemble devoted to the musical production of the 20th century in collaboration with the clarinetist Juli Panyella in 1965. During its 20 years of existence, the Diabolus in Musica has given more than 70 premieres of Spanish and foreign authors (including the first version in Spain of the Second Symphony Op. 38 by Schönberg in 1975, and the premieres of “Improvisation sur Mallarmé” of Pierre Boulez , the work for percussion “Interieur 1” of Helmut Lachenmann, as well as the first Spanish recorded version on disc of the orchestral Suite of The History of the Soldier of Stravinsky).

Promoter of contemporary music (1965-2010)
After working as a musical critic of the Diario de Barcelona (1967-1975), he was appointed as the musical advisor of the City Council of Barcelona (1972-1994) where he promoted the musical initiation in the 9 municipal schools and created and leaded the Center for the Diffusion of Music of the 20th century. At the same time he created the International Weeks of Contemporary Music of the Barcelona City Council. He also created the International Prize for Musical Composition Ciutat de Tarragona (1993-2005),  as well as the direction of the Spanish TV programmes "Recital" and "Pentagrama XX" (1970-1975).

Composer (1960 -2018)
In 1960 he started his composition activities which have leaded to a catalogue of more than 100 works.

He began his composition studies in Barcelona with maestro Taltabull. A year later, endorsed by the composer  Frederic Mompou and sponsored by Francesc Casas, he expanded his studies of composition and orchestration at the Schola Cantorum in Paris with Pierre Wissmer. In 1964 he obtained the extraordinary award of the Diploma of Composition and Orchestration. His stay of more than two years at the College of Spain of the Cité Universitaire de Paris allowed him to get in touch with the work of Schönberg and with the cycles of the Domaine Musical conducted by Pierre Boulez hearing works of Berio, Stockhausen, Ligeti, Boulez and Xenakis, among others.

His catalogue ranges from 1965 until 2018 and includes 10 works for symphonic orchestra, 7 works for soloist and symphonic orchestra, 2 works for mixed choir and symphonic orchestra, 2 works for mixed choir, 1 opera, 1 ballet, 18 works for piano only, 17 works for another solo instrument, 11 works for instrumental duo, 3 works for voice and piano, 7 works for trio, 6 works for quartet and 22 for chamber ensemble of five or more instruments.

Most of his works have been commissioned by artistic institutions of Spain, France and other countries.

His music has been performed by orchestras, ensembles and soloists of several countries.  Most of these works have been recorded in 38CD  shared with other authors, 14 monographic CDs and 2 DVDs.

He was invited as a composer by different institutions of the United States, France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela.  He has also been a resident composer at the Cadaqués Orchestra (Catalonia, Spain1998), at the University of Santa Bárbara (California) (1999) and at the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona (2012-2013). It is worth to note that in 2012 the National Orchestra and Choir of Spain dedicated an edition of "Carta Blanca" to his work. The Carta Blanca initiative was  a series of semi-annual concerts of this Orchestra devoted to the interpretation renowed contemporary composers such as Henze, Dutilleux and Elliot Carter among others.

Guinjoan has been recipient of the following composition awards: the Ciutat de Barcelona Prize (Spain), in three editions (1972, 1978, 1999); Reina Sofía Composition Prize of the Ferrer Salat Foundation (Spain) (1983); National Disco Award (Spain) (1982); National Music Prize (Ministry of Culture, Spain) (1990); National Culture Award (Music) of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Spain) (1995); Ibero-American Music Prize Tomás Luis de Victoria (2004); finalist of the Koussevitzky Prize of the IRCA in New York.

He holded several distinctions: the Gold Medal for Merit of the Fine Arts (Spain); Creu de Sant Jordi (Catalonia, Spain); Doctor Honoris Causa (Universitat Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona, Spain); Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres (France); he has been honorary member of the Board of Directors of the General Society of Authors and Publishers (Spain), and a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Sant Jordi (Catalonia, Spain).

His music has been analyzed in 8 monographic studies and a doctoral thesis.

About Temps songe:

This is the title of a recent piece for 7 percussionists by Nguyen-Thien Dao, and it well illustrates the secret paths followed by this French composer born in Hanoï in 1940. Never will he forget the purfums and images of his childhood spent in the vietnamese countryside, nor those “celestial and totally imaginary polyphonies” that pursued him relentlessly all through his adolescence. From the time he came to Paris in 1954 up to the present day, complete solitude and endless meditations before the spectacle of nature have remained his closest friends and his most trustworthy consolation.

Frank LANGLOIS

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