Baltazar Benitez

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Baltazar Benitez (31-7-1944 -12-7-2018) was a professional guitar player born in Durazno, Uruguay. When his father passed away Baltazar was 12 years old. Together with his 2-year younger brother, he took the guitar of his father, which was lying on the closet and started to play with it. It was his neighbor, Tigre Rivero, who thought him his first notes on the guitar, Milonga de los Payadores. Baltazar rapidly learned this typical Uruguayan Milonga and his passion for music and especially for the guitar was born. He started studying with Pedro Machin and afterwards he continued with Oscar Caceres until he met Abel Carlevaro in 1966. It was Abel Carlevaro who noticed his extraordinary talent and motivated Baltazar to come to Montevideo to study under his wings at the National Conservatory of Music in Montevideo.

Career[edit]

In two years time Baltazar started his professional career and he was asked by the "Uruguayan Jeunesses Musicales" to play a tour in his home country. He won numerous important contests as well as performing in several television and radio programs. In 1970 Baltazar received a grant from the Spanish Cultural Institute to study with the Spanish Maestro Andrés Segovia in Santiago de Compostela.

Baltazar participated in numerous contests of which a few highlights:

  • 1971, first prize at the annual international guitar competition in Santiago de Compostela.
  • 1972, Baltazar was the official delegate of Uruguay at the 26th World Congress of the Jeunesse Musicales held in Augsburg, Germany. There Baltazar was highly recognized for his playing, particularly for his interpretations of South-American music.
  • 1973, first prize at the 7th International Tárrega-contest held in Benicásim, Spain.

Baltazar recorded his first LP in 1976, which he dedicated to Latin American Music. This LP includes the first recording of Manuel Maria Ponce's "Theme, Variations and Fughetta" from a theme by Antonio Cabezón. His second album was released in 1980, which was based on an in-depth and profound musical research by Baltazar which showed Baltazar's passion and immens feeling for the European baroque music. This LP contains an extraordinary interpretation of J. S Bach's famous "Suite in e-minor", several sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti all transcribed & arranged by Baltazar. This repertoire was very well received by both guitarists as well as the general musical world.

The third LP followed in 1984 inspired by the music of Astor Piazzolla. This work contains the Five Pieces for guitar by Astor Piazzolla which Astor Piazzolla dedicated to Baltazar Benitez. In addition it contains a number of pieces which Baltazar Benitez transcribed for guitar.

In 1985 Baltazar Benitez and Astor Piazzolla toured together in South-America and performed the well known "Concierto para Bandoneón, Guitarra y Orquesta"composed by Astor Piazzolla.

The career of Baltazar took a flight touring, providing concerts and master classes throughout the world such as Japan, Spain, United States, Russian, The Netherlands, Mexico, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Italy.

In 1992 Baltazar Benitez was invited by D'addario Foundation for the Performing Art to perform in New York, Washington and San Francisco because of D'Addario's 10th anniversary. That same year Baltazar Benítez joined the Royal Conservatory in Gent, Belgium to teach technique and interpretation since the 16th century. Together with Alfredo Marcucci, the seasoned Argentinian bandoneon player, he recorded the CD "Tango, an anthology". This was very well received internationally because of the charming and typical Tango and Milonga melodies.

Baltazar Benitez was challenged with sudden illness which hugely impacted his personal and professional life in 1994. As a consequence he was forced to stop his professional career. It took him several years to recover and he managed to stay active in the music scene as well as Luthier. Baltazar Benitez passed away the 12th of July 2018, in his hometown Tilburg, the Netherlands.

Luthier[edit]

Around 1980 Baltazar developed a strong interest in guitar building and constructed guitars under the pseudonym "Victoriano Santos". As he never showcased this side activity it is unclear how many guitars he has built. Nice to know that one of his concert guitars was made by Baltazar Benitez himself named La Estrella. This name refers to the peculiar sound hole of the guitar which is made of nacre in the form of an octagon. This sound hole was originally part of the guitar belonging to his father on which Baltazar Benitez started to play his first notes. Baltazar Benitez took out the sound hole and incorporated it in his own made concert guitar, Victoriano Santos - La Estrella.

Recordings[edit]

References[edit]

1 www.baltazarbenitez.com


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