Artist Profiles: Luis Di Matteo

Luis Di Matteo is one of the great bandoneonistas from South America. Living in Montevideo, Uruguay, Di Matteo has carried bandoneon music the furthest in a classical direction after the death of Astor Piazzolla. From the very beginning of his musical career he has shown an impressive independence in his musical thinking and concert performances.

Luis Di Matteo was born in 1934. He began his musical education at the conservatory in his native city Montevideo Uruguay. In 1962 he founded his first ensemble and in 198 he gave his first performances in Europe. Between 1983 and 1986 he cooperated with the music conservatory of Detmold, Germany. In 1987 he wrote the music for the Swedish film production Black Dawn/Los Dueños del Silencio. He took the opportunity of working and recording with a string orchestra for the first time in 199/91. In the Russian city of Uljanowsk (Lenin’s birthplace) he recorded compositions of his own with the chamber soloists of the Uljanowsk National Symphony Orchestra. The premier of his latest major composition Concierto para contrabajo y orquesta de cuerdas (Concert for double bass and string orchestra) performed by the Montevideo Philharmonic Orchestra took place in Montevideo in the summer of 1995.

The combination of strings and bandoneon have had a long tradition in South America: since the triumphal career of the bandoneon (invented by the German Karl Band) began there in the middle of the 19th century strings have been an integral part of the “orchesta típica” (two bandoneons two fiddles acoustic bass and a piano). However Matteo’s intensive collaboration with strings denotes a decisive step forward in the development of bandoneon music. He has broken with the old cliché that forever tied the bandoneon to the sweet and painful sound of the Tango. Instead Di Matteo in his compositions for this rather difficult instrument has found a form of personal expression that clearly places him within the Western music tradition.

Di Matteo has not only been influenced by traditional South American music but also increasingly by classical music including the modern masters such as Arnold Schönberg. With his compositions for bandoneon and strings he opens our eyes for a new look at the bandoneon’s possibilities of expression.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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