Luis Zubillaga was born in Flores, a residential district in Buenos Aires, the 21st of June in 1928. As an adolescent he got the feeling that music, initially jazz, was his calling. From 1948 to 1952 he studied trumpet, theory and harmony with Bernardo Barbará; piano, harmony and composition with Cayetano Marcolli; and from 1955 to 1959, composition with Juan Carlos Paz.
Saturday mornings between 1955 and 1959, were spent on studying and developing a long friendship, which was kept up through steady letters whenever either of them traveled.
Only when Zubillaga left for Venezuela – behind the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff - and got rid of his maestro’s tutelage – J.C. Paz - did he take a more active role towards contemporary music. From that period, his first musical productions: “Haiku”, “Paisaje en fluctuación”( “Fluctuating Landscape”), “Escena I” (“Scene I”), “Nadas vacías”(“Empty nothingness”); premieres of his works and a first recording made by a friend, the pianist Jorge Zulueta. He also composed music for films and music for short films, something a task that he would have liked to go on doing.
It was hard, performing and recording “Musica para 10 instrumentos” (“Music for 10 instruments”) , the soundtrack for the film “El Huerco” played by members of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela, whom were not acquainted with contemporary music and did not like it. It was conducted by a friend, the Spanish maestro Miguel Angel Fuster.”
After that there were two experiences regarding music for films. In 1970 : “Algunos segmentos” (“Some Segments”), a 16mm. short color animation film , based on Elda Cerrato´s paintings . Unique in its genre, it was first screened at the First International Contemporary Music Festival at the Centro Cultural General San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In 1978, “Armando Reverón”, music arrangement for film written and directed by Angel Hurtado, commissioned by the Venezuelan Tourism and Information Office. National Art Gallery Archives.
Productions of radio programs, conferences (sometimes with Alfredo Gerbes) and teaching at the Instituto Pedagógico Experimental. Throughout this period he built stronger ties with Latin America’s reality. He became so aware of it that from here on his social convictions remained with him throughout his whole life. Lasting friendship ties were made. The I Ching was discovered.
A trip to Buenos Aires in 1963, he saw Juan Carlos Paz again and the effervescent musical scene in those years: he joined Nueva Musica, new compositions and premieres of his work, his son to be born, Luciano, an offer by the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán (UNT), through his friend Jorge Zulueta; all this made him to return to Argentina in the beginning of 1964.
At the Escuela Superior de Música at the UNT he taught Harmony, Counterpoint, Fugue and Composition; his economic situation became stable and, there, at Horco Molle Hill (the university campus) for almost four years: Luciano grew up, music was composed: “Tres piezas para dos pianos” (“Three pieces for two pianos”) in 1965; in 1966, “Direccionales” (“Directionals”), “Unidades II” (“Units II”), for 11 instruments, ”Música para Elda” (“Music for Elda”), for chamber ensemble, “No música para no alguien” (“Non music for nobody”), for chamber ensemble and vocals; and “Ambientes” (“Environments"), for piano in 1967; the yararas (local snakes) were spied on in the patio stonewall; a flying saucer was seen from a friend’s house in the valley of the Salí River; on the mountain road apparitions were perceived through the Citroen’s window. However, conflicts arose with conservative groups and resulted in his return to Buenos Aires; and also the opportunity to participate in the 1966 Primeras Jornadas de Música Experimental organized at the Universidad de Córdoba as the official representative of the UNT´s Arts Department. He fostered many projects.
His stay in Tucuman and previous daily contact with Venezuela´s renewing avant-garde of the surrealist artistic and intellectual left, confirmed his convictions about the need and the value of the most contemporary and experimental artistic manifestations; likewise, driving along the Ruta 9 showed him the country’s economic contradictions in such an abrupt and manifest way, contact with people, experiences that strengthened his social and political principles. In Tucuman these convictions nourished the conservative circle’s irritation towards the “porteño”.
When Onganía stepped in, the contract with the UNT was made voidon the 26th of December in 1967.
…”Before returning to Buenos Aires, Luis Zubillaga : - "On December 26 in 1967 I was dismissed from the University without any explanations whatsoever by the present authorities”- was interviewed by Nueva Línea Nº 12, de Abril de 1968regarding musical activity about Tucuman. “In local circles people are still discussing the contribution and the value of atonality and dodecaphonism, and this, to make you get the picture , is the equivalent to discussing a steam engine’s possible applications and range in times when liquid oxygen is being used as fuel”, he told our correspondent. Intelligent and vital, a witty observer of people and things, a penetrating researcher of issues that worry him, Zubillaga is passionate about contemporary music. He thinks that local musicians, with few exceptions..."
..."He pauses, becomes impatient and suddenly bursts out for “for everything that isn’t being done”.
..."His answers are fluid, with the confidence of someone who has given the matter much thought and is in intimate terms with it”…
..."He explains that even traditional teaching is focused wrongly, both in concept and application, always leaving “for tomorrow” the orchestration techniques, “however, the phenomenon of sound is audible and comparable, among other parameters, by its timbre"
…“In this last period here" -he concludes- “each step I’ve wanted to take has been interrupted, allowing me no movement whatsoever”. This is evident by the fact that his contract with the UNT was not renewed: Zubillaga’s ideas went unheard “except by his students”; neither did his ambitious Radio and Phonology project, (developed by Terán, Somaini, Bruguera, Caram and Zubillaga) , and held the interest of the following Schools within the University: Philosophy and Literature, Electrical Engineering, Architecture and Medicine”…
So it happened, the return to Buenos Aires of the couple and their small son, entering into working activity again in the capital city. He continued to be consistent with his project regarding the ddivulgation of contemporary music, particularly Latin American music which he started with radio programs in 1962 such as Twentieth Century Music and Modern Jazz in the Venezuelan National Radio, followed in Radio Nacional and Radio Municipal of Bs. As. until 1972; with articles for art magazines : “C.A.L” in Caracas, “Cultura Universitaria” issued by the Universidad Central de Venezuela ( U.C.V.) , “La Gaceta de Tucuman” newspaper; he continued to compose; he was granted a scholarship by the Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales of the InstitutoTorcuato Di Tella in 1969 and 1970 - lets not forget that his Maestro J.C. Paz, with whom he corresponded uninterruptedly during his stay in Caracas and Tucuman, was... controversial with Alberto Ginastera, music director of the Instituto Di Tella ; also lectures around the country organized by the Fondo Nacional de las Artes, juror in competitions; lessons in Provincial Conservatories in Chascomus, La Plata, Moron and in the Universidad of La Plata, etcetera.
He took part in premieres and performances at Nueva Musica concerts : “Direccionales” and “Ambientes”. From 1968 and revised in 1979, was his orchestra piece “Ongilasch”, one of the first words uttered by his little son Luciano, and therefore dedicated to him.
1970 . Setiembre Musical Tucumano REVISTA AUDIO. ROQUE DE PEDRO
…” This year the XI SEPTIEMBRE MUSICAL TUCUMANO performed two kinds of work. On one hand, it organized the meeting of symphonic argentine orchestras. On the other hand, it made possible a dynamic panel entitled:” The Argentine Music Today”……… The first issues to be dealt with were the current sound repertoires. The debate seemed interesting from the start.
On one side, Luis Zubillaga, Miguel Ángel Rondano, Enrique Gerardi, Gerardo Gandini, Jorge Blarduni, Dante Grela, Oscar Bazán, César Franchisena, Ramiro Larrain and the author of this
article were embarked in new proposals where playing with the unpredictable, the active participation of the audience (that in turn ceases to be one), the new creative techniques, and other personal and collective propositions do matter as a foundation for the evolution of sound language, all of them in touch with certain aspects of today´s life; on the other side,more traditionalist attitudes took an extremist stance in the case of Floro Ugarte… Meanwhile Jacobo Fisher kept his usual rigid position…. Elda Cerrato (painter) and Jorge Glusberg (art critic)supported new trends.
…… This road had already been opened in an earlier lecture by Luis Zubillaga when heshowed works and scores by Rondano, Grupo de Improvisación de La Plata and Movimiento Música Más with tape recordings and slides”………
Music consultant from 1970 onwards at Centro de Arte y Comunicación , C.A.YC., where he organized contemporary music concerts, with Conjunto de Improvisación and other groups; he researched on "Sonic Images and the Systematization of its Features" for the Instituto de Arquitectura of the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA), sponsored by the Koenigs-Staudt scholarship; played music from 1969 to 1971 with Conjunto de Musica Contemporánea and Grupo de Improvisación.
In 1970/72, great activity with the La Plata group: he was co-founder and member of Conjunto de Música Contemporánea and the Grupo de Improvisación, where he was also Art and Music Director and Conductor, as well as performer in various concerts; Improvisation Ensemble, was not only made up of professional musicians, but also architects, photographers and filmmakers as well.
AUDIO Magazine #4, March 1971, Buenos Aires.
IMPROVISATION GROUPS by G. GREGORIO ATCHITECKT
“Collective group improvisation work in our country…In order to informe our readers more efficiently about certain aspects of this music, and to let thembe acquinted with the local present day composers, I think it is relevant to introduce one of our country’s enlightened musicians: Luis Zubillaga"… "He directs the Grupo de Improvisación along with Blarduni and Gerardi, that performed in 1970 at: Teatro Argentino de La Plata, CAYC, the 4th Festival Internacional de Musica Contemporánea, and in1971 in Palermo Lake’s Acoustic Bowl.
Question: When did the group start working and who are its members?
Answer: “Grupo de Improvisación” was created by Enrique Gerardi, Jorge Blarduni and me in the beginning of 1970 as part of the Centro de Investigaciones Musicales Contemporáneas Puras y Aplicadas – CIMCPA – of the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes at the Universidad de La Plata. From the start its members included the three of us, Jorge Cantirán, Federico Bacchini, Ramiro Larrain, Mario Rapallini, Clemente Laserre and Jorge Kubowetz (Jorge Cumbo). Julio Otero Mancini was in charge of solving problems related to the amplification of instruments.
For those who have some knowledge about this, we are not doing anything new, even though it is relatively new in our country. For those who don’t know anything about this, this is extremely new.
We rehearsed without interruption during 1970: this is a basic requirement for an ensemble of this kind to achieve any results… Each rehearsal is recorded and the whole group discusses the results…
…With the coming on military dictatorship, the group was completely disbanded…” Additional Bibliography: “Los grupos de improvisación en el Buenos Aires de los 70” / Luis Zubillaga - Pag. 67- Revista Musical de Venezuela Consejo Nacional de la Cultura 1981 Año 2 No. 3.
Economic crises relocating constant struggle to foster spaces that endorsed and spread contemporary Latin American music sociopolitical definitions difficulties in achieving and maintaining the technical resources needed to develop projects involving electronic music.
From this period he produced the work he defined as his “third stage”: “I could divide my production in three stages”, Zubillaga points out, “the first one starts with “Haiku” from 61, the second stage shows a considerable expansion of the expressive image; it starts with "Ambientes" from 67; the third stage (1970) "Cuando estamos…cuando no estamos" (“When we are…when we are not”) mingles my experience with the Grupo de Improvisación, which I had along with two other composers, Gerardi and Blarduni. From 1970, the following pieces: "Noches” (“Nights") for chamber and improvisation ensembles, was first played that same year at the Festival de Música Argentina Contemporánea; “Recordando los momentos que son"(“Remembering the times that be”) for chamber ensemble; and in 1975, ”Balada de la esperanza” (“Ballad of Hope").
Fluent, unceasingt, vital and controversial, the first half of the 70s was a period of enthusiastic exchanges and fruitful encounters with visitors from abroad: Latin Americans, North Americans and Europeans (Oscar Bolaños, John Cage, Luis de Pablo, Umberto Eco, Krystof Penderecki, Luigi Nono ,-there was an invitation to Cuba although the political situation in Argentina made it impossible to go-, Marlos Nobre, ...
AUDIO magazine #2, first year: : 12/70 -1º/71 Bs. As. The article on the Festival Internacional de Música , packed with composers from Latin America, 20th century masterpieces like “In C” by Terry Riley were played, is titled by Norberto Chavarri: “Scandal in the Festival”. The seething Buenos Aires music milieu, conservative and uninformed circles ( the Asociación de Jóvenes Compositores, the Escuela de Música de la Universidad Católica, the authorities of the Teatro Colón...). Meanwhile, Roque de Pedro and Luis Zubillaga, among others “stood for a living art”.
In 1974: Appointed Artistic Director of the Teatro Colón and Director of Extracurricular Studies in the Universidad de Buenos Aires: times when the projects he had been conceiving since when he was in Caracas and Tucumán -where he had been the generator and manager of a number of initiatives were recycled and reattempted, and in some cases, accomplished: Radio and Phonology Studies; Contemporary Music Research Center: in 1971; Institute of Integrated Arts. Didactic and Productive Field Work for the Ministry of Education of the Province of Buenos Aires for the Regional Delegation of the CGT (Workers General Confederation) of La Matanza with the support of the Bishopric of San Justo.
He takes part in ExpoMusica 76, the first Latin American Audio-visual Exhibition of Argentine Contemporary Music, CAYC.
There is a gradual growth, encouraged by the 70s euphoria, of the illusion of foreseeable changes regarding culture in Argentina and Latin America. Great disappointment: 1976 was a year in which there was no chance to get a job, and without any opportunities on sight, after having been barred from the Buenos Aires University (UBA), Colón Theater, the Department of Art Education in the Office of Education of Buenos Aires Province, Luján Conservatory, University of La Plata, radio stations, as well as any government office, and ... other private sector position due to his political militancy. There was, also, a pending threat of eviction there and requests for help were made always in Latin America: Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, whom were quick to respond: Caracas, a temporary visa; a contract: real? unreal? forged? imaginary?: no questions were asked; offers in beloved old friends' homes: filmmakers, poets, musicians and painters.
January 1977 in Caracas: scattering, giving away, losing, equipment, paintings, books, for a second or third time, but with more urgency. Yet again, setting up a home and reentering into working activity: CONAC, UCV.
A year after arriving in Caracas, he presented his piece “Todos los días…ninguno” (“Every day… no day"), written amidst the difficulties of that year, without a piano yet, restarting work and projects in the time of the devastating events back in Argentina. He won the Universidad Simón Bolivar composition award and the piece was performed in 1978, with the presence of Venezuela elected president .
The piece “Canciones y recuerdos” (“Songs and memories") was premiered in 1978, in the first Contemporary Music Biennial in Puerto Rico, by the Biennial´s String Quartet, of the Anfiteatro de Humanidades of the Universidad. Others were composed: ”Aquella tarde en aquella casa” (“That afternoon in that house"), 1979,”Escena(II)” [(“Scene (II)”], which was commissioned for the 5th Centenary of Ateneo de Caracas.
He continues teaching, now in the Venezuela Central University, as Director of the Music Section of the Arts Department of the Humanities School and as a faculty Professor of : Theory, Analysis and History of Jazz (the first jazz university course in Latin America). In addition, inhis position as the Head of the Documentation Department of the Latin American Institute of Studies and Research in Music of the National Council for Culture, he developed, coordinated and carried out projects such as:
1979- First Audio Visual Exhibition of Venezuelan Composers in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Caracas. From 79 to 83 the exhibition toured universities and Cultural Centers in Venezuela, sponsored by CONAC (National Council for Culture in Venezuela).
1983- Project and coordination of the First Latin American Meeting of Composers, Critics and Musicologists.Secretaría de la Presidencia, CONAC, OAS and UNESCO.
As a follow up to his previous experience in Venezuela, in 1985 he organized the Second Meeting of Latin American Young Symphonic Orchestras (OSJ), Critics and Composers, in 1985.
1983 was a year of great expectations for all Argentines: those who had remained in the country and those had gone abroad. Practically all travelling they did during those years in Caracas, were to Argentina: friends, colleagues, the "trodden" Buenos Aires’ streets. Also, to New York to hear some underground jazz concerts.
Joyous return in December 1983.
Once again, problems to enter into working activity and housing: returning to teaching at the Conservatorio de Morón : History of Music I, II and III, Counterpoint II, Harmony II, Avant-garde Musical Techniques, and Comparative Techniques in Musical Language. Then, in 1989, for a short time Vice-Principal of the Conservatorio Manuel de Falla. The lectures continued, and again, restructuring projects involving the divulgation of Latin American and Argentine contemporary music...
There is a period from his last composition in 1982 to the beginning of the 90s, when there was a crisis, something Zubillaga has recognized as such: his energy regarding the creation of music was scattered on the feverish activity that was contributing to the reconstruction of a country, believing it was starting its history again with faith, drive and honesty. Questions arose: “who listens to our music? What is its purpose?” Nevertheless, he never stopped studying, updating his knowledge and finding out new resources for musical composition, including those from commercial music: even in 1996, books and recordings that were ordered from abroad kept arriving.
Since his first participation -1968/70- in Agrupación Nueva Música headed by J.C. Paz, the conviction among composers of the need to organize themselves in order to achieve the performance and divulgation of their work more easily, led him to encourage the creation of composers associations. In Caracas he was a founding member in 1982 of the Asociación de Compositores Contemporáneos de Venezuela. Between 1975/90 he was a member of CUDA, the Asociación de Compositores Unidos de Argentina; in 1989 he was a founding member and president of CULTRUN-CA associated composers.
“The unusual gathering of composers was born last year during a biennial of youth orchestras, where a number of members of CULTRUN gave lectures”.
“Before, composers only got together whenever they wanted their work to be performed, what interested us was the chance to create more ambitious projects, to expand communication with other fields and to achieve a state of tension as creators that are searching for something new. This is wild and individualistic environment and what we did amongst ourselves was to rescue artistic exchange with composers that intervene in different ways in the other one's work, and even go back to discussing what each one of us does, something had also been lost.”
"In fact, this means that a composer participates as a musician, conductor or author of someone else’s work according to the needs of the piece or the way it's performed”…
Sur Cultura/Arte/Espectáculos 7/8/90
Since its foundation, CULTRUN gave performances at theTeatro Colón´s Salón Dorado, the Centro Cultural Recoleta, Centro Cultural Gral San Martín, SADAIC, UBA, UNR(Universidad Nacional de Rosario), CCRivadavia of Rosario among other places.
The contacts he made during his stay in Venezuela, allowed him to know the work of the organization of the Orquestas Sinfónicas Juveniles conducted by Maestro José Vicente Abreu. That knowledge was used to organize O.S.J. in Argentina.
1984-86 Founding Member and Artistic Director of the O.S.J. of Dirección de Cultura of the Universidad de La Plata
1984 Founding Member and Member of the Consejo Ejecutivo of the FAOSJ (Argentine Federation of Youth Symphonic Orchestras).
RIO NEGRO, monday 6 October 1986
Luis Zubillaga “The federation of youth orchestras is a must”
CIPOLETTI (AC) – “Enrique Gerardi, Ramón Aun and myself asked ourselves a question: why don´t we create a youth symphonic orchestra (OSJ)?. The Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de La Plata was born. We made contact with other similar orchestras in the country that we didn’t know and found a complete lack of communication among them. The idea of a federation of youth symphonic orchestras comes out. “
This sequence of events, almost naïve at first sight, explained Maestro Luis Zubillaga, who was in the region in his double role of Artistic Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de La Plata and founding member of the Federation.
…The Federation intends to develop the skills of their members by means of clinics and intensive workshops.
…Abundance of projects. Among them, exchange of teachers; contacts with record companies; getting to know each other; improvement of interpretative standards. And on a regional level, it strives to organise a national festival, with the possibility to extend it to other countries, and from this perspective, demand the creation of a national youth symphonic orchestra.
All these efforts are not new at all but they are so in this country and of an absolute necessity. Because if there is not network between them, he concludes, the youth symphonic orchestras vegetate on their own without any chance to develop, and obviously, to transcend.
LA MAGA, 9th. July 1993
The Secretary of Culture conceives an education plan based on the Venezuelan Model
The new Programa Nacional de Orquestas Juveniles presents an alternative to tradition.
The Secretaría de Cultura decided to launch a Programa Nacional de Orquestas Sinfónicas Juveniles, based on a Venezuelan experience, where this system, created 18 years ago gathers 140,000 youths. As at first step in Argentina, in Rosario will be a workshop for young musicians (with Venezuelan teachers), with the intention of creating a Orquesta Juvenil Argentina …”
In 1985 he plans, organizes and produces the 2nd Latin American Meeting of Youth Symphonic Orchestras, Critics and Composers. Dirección de Cultura de la Municipalidad de La Plata.
In 1991 he was Founding Member and Vice President of the Federación Argentina de Compositores (FAC). 1991-94- Member of the Co-ordinating Team (and co-author of various projects) of the Programa Nacional de Orquestas Sinfónicas Juveniles y Programas Especiales. Subsecretaría de Artes y Acción Cultural. Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación.
In 1993 he was invited by the Consejo Nacional de la Cultura of Venezuela (CONAC ) in order to organise the Latin American O.S.J. exchange.
Music composing increases.
“Camino a Cata” (“On the way to Cata”) for jazz quintet, from 1989 ; “OCT-90”, from 1990 ; “Para Elda II” and “Trompetas en Septiembre (“September Trumpets”), from 1991; “Una vez” ( “Once...”); “Verano del 93”(“Summer of 93”) and “Bue-93”, from 1993 ; unfinished : ”Aquel lugar” ( “That place”) , from 1994 ;”Hoy, piano”( “Today, piano”) from 1995.
His works are premiered again.
At the same time the work of developing and organising projects takes up speed and blooms for a number of institutions. However, red-tape and personal interests that were hardly... scrupulous within the music field make a lot of work goes to waste, including foreign contacts and hope. Meanwhile he continues with lessons, lectures, participation in juries…
A fines del ´95 se ejecuta Ambientes en el X Festival de La Habana. Música Contemporánea. Sala de Conciertos. Palacio de Bellas Artes. Intérprete: Luis Mihovilcevic.
A partir de 1995 se sigue produciendo el estreno de varias obras: 1995 : HOY , PIANO para piano; 1998: AQUELLA TARDE EN AQUELLA CASA , para 15 instrumentos; 1999: MUSICA PARA ELDA II para 7 instrumentos; 2000: NADAS VACIAS para piano; 2004: VERANO DEL 93. Versión revisada y finalizada por Luis Mihovilcevic para 6 instrumentos; 2006: ESCENA I, para 5 instrumentos.
2002 Edición de 2 CDs.: Luis Zubillaga música de Cámara y Sinfónica
2003 Presentación de los CDs. en concierto de CULTRUN: Salón Dorado - Teatro Colón Bs. As., Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de UBA con comentarios de Jorge Zulueta, Omar Corrado y Roque de Pedro, en varios Conservatorios y con un HOMENAJE en el Teatro Teresa Carreño en
Alfredo Rugeles Presidente de la SVMC Director Artístico del Festival Latinoamericano de Música
Bélgica Rodríguez, Presidenta AICA, Capítulo Venezuela
Plató Protocolar del Teatro Teresa Carreño en Caracas
En San Miguel de Tucumán por Roberto Espinosa y Celina Lis
En 2004 se realiza el XIII Festival Latinoamericano de Música Caracas, con la Dirección artística del maestro Alfredo Rugeles, durante el cual se estrenan para Venezuela: HAIKU, HOY PIANO, CANCIONES Y RECUERDOS, TROMPETAS EN SEPTIEMBRE.
En Cancillería Argentina están iniciando la difusión en Europa y USA.