Skip to main content

Oscar Edelstein - Composer & Pianist


Oscar Edelstein

Argentinean composer, pianist, researcher and director (Born 1953 in La Paz, Entre Rios - Argentina)

Oscar Edelstein is an original contemporary composer from Argentina, well known for creativity and inventiveness, and frequently described as leading Latin America's avant-garde.

He is a pianist, conductor, and researcher whose compositions are both acoustic and electro-acoustic. Alongside orchestral and ensemble works, he has made over forty works for theatre and dance, and over fourteen operas including "Los Monstruito" that was commissioned in 2006 by the experimental wing of Buenos Aires' opera house, Teatro Colón.

As a composer Edelstein has a fascination with the dialogue between art and science. He is developing a new ways to think about composition, aesthetics, pitch and harmony. This includes creating a system of control and notation of the acoustic space, which he calls The Acoustic Grid, and with a team of scientists making an entirely acoustic system of amplification using the scientific principal of Sonic Crystals.

In terms of style Edelstein's music is hard to categorize and he is known for the frequency with which he crosses the lines between genres. In a newspaper interview about his disc "Dos Improntus" he said, "No matter how strong I am within the field of contemporary music, I have always felt like a popular musician who studied. I always take care to look at music from the point of view of sensitivity and emotion."

Recent career highlights

Alongside many commissions, concerts, extensive press coverage (radio and broadsheet) and invitations to be keynote speaker at conferences and on award panels, Oscar Edelstein’s career has been highlighted by the following recent examples;

  • 2011 Winner of prestigious award for outstanding artistic contribution from the Fondo Nacional de los Artes
  • 2010 Selected for the scientific-cultural expedition“Paraná Ra’Anga
  • 2008 Awarded title “Citizen Illustrious”, Paraná
  • 2006 Teatro Acústica becomes first arts research programme to be funded by science
  • 2004 First disc in Latin America to be recorded in Super Audio (5.1)

Viaje a la Catedral de Santa Mónica (2019)

Oscar Edelstein and physicist Manuel Eguia made reference to the work of Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980 - Cuban Novelist, Musicologist & Collaborator with Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Georges Bataille and Antonin Artaud) in their collaboration on the Sonic Cristal Room (La Sala Cristal Sónico), and in the first opera which was staged within the installation Journey to the Cathedral of Saint Monica of the Venisons (Viaje a la Catedral de Santa Mónica de los Venados) in which Edelstein’s title is a secret homage to Carpentier and his idea of the place where music was born.

“Just as in the work of novelist Alejo Carpentier in which the Cathedral de Santa Monica provokes in the protagonist the sensation to have encountered the origins of music, our journey proposed by this “cathedral of crystals” is like the discovery of an new acoustic memory - a musical universe that with new poetic significance recuperates the art of profound listening.” Edelstein and Eguia

La Carta Imaginaria - rehearsal

La Carta Imaginaria - rehearsal

La Carta Imaginaria (2014)

- A musical poem about that which is written - illusion, error and destiny.

Commissioned by the Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación for the Ciclo Iberoamericano de Ópera Contemporánea at the Centro Nacional de la Música (Buenos Aires), co-ordinated by composer Juan Ortiz de Zárate.

Oscar Edelstein (Composer, Libretto, Director), Edgardo Palotta (Musical Director), Lucas Werenkraut (Traveller 1), Natalia Cappa (Traveller 2) and Deborah Claire Procter (Hermes); accompanied by Agustin Araneda (Electronics), Lisandro Arpí (Bass Clarinet), Raúl Cela (Flute), Carla Giallorenzi (Viola), Carlos Adriano Herrera (Basson), Nicolás Padín (Guitar), Martín Proscia (Alto Saxophone), Nicolas Ruggiero (Clarinet), Leonardo Salzano (Electric Guitar), Lorena Torales (Piano), Pablo Torterolo (Percussion) and Marcelo Urbano (Double Bass).

Deborah Claire Procter (Multimedia Design); Jimena Chamorro (Scenography & Costume); Fernando Chacoma (Lighting Design); Alberto Schuster (Make-up); Deborah Claire Procter, Irene Robert, Maxi Lichy, and Max Edelstein (Video Realisation).

“La Carta Imaginaria works around the problem of destiny and repetition, planted as a game of violent children who are condemned to repeat the same history... It also deals with a reflexion on that which is written and not written, which relates to destiny and how it is translated to the score. [...] Not to disown the authorship, but a work of this kind is the result of quantities of stimulus and ideas that come up in the interpretation. And the interaction between many people that have distinctive styles, different strategies and professional fields: singers, instrumentalists, lighting designers, costume makers. The opera, as in the theatre, is a collective act. I’m interested in this conflict. The transference between the arts, unless you adhere to the conduct of very established genre, needs a certain freedom, a certain expansion, which inevitably leads to some errors of calculation, nevertheless, ends up being part of the truly creative.” Oscar Edelstein in interview with Diego Fischerman (music critic for Página 12)

Daniela Müller (Concert master) with Oscar Edelstein (Composer) and José Luis Gomez (Conductor).

Daniela Müller (Concert master) with Oscar Edelstein (Composer) and José Luis Gomez (Conductor).

Cristal Argento I (2010)

Basel Sinfonietta commissioned a new work by Oscar Edelstein in 2009. The work premiered in Basel on the 24th January 2011, Stadtcasino, Basel, and at Franziskaner Konzerthaus, Villingen-Schwenningen (Germany): 15th February 2011. It is a work for full orchestra with electronic process of the Sonic Crystal, and was conducted by Venezuelan conductor José Luis Gomez (IMG Artists) who won first prize in the 2010 International Conductor's Competition of Sir Georg Solti.

The electronic processes act like transparencies, Edelstein calls them " Dense Films and Machine Transparencies in the Mode of the Human Memory". They create an acoustic way to make a new edition that goes over the other, allowing the recovery of something that has happened earlier, but in a different way, time and space. "It's like a reminder of a dream - not as a machine memory - more human and diffused," says Edelstein.

Scroll to Continue

In various places during the piece orchestral sounds are captured and processed using the "answer response" of the Crystal Sonic, a configuration that alters the sound and adds a special chamber and colour. The software programme was designed by the research team of Edelstein, LAPSO (Laboratory of Acoustics and Sound Perception), led by physicist Manuel Eguí­a, with mechanical engineer, Ignacio Spiousas at Universidad de Quilmes (Argentina) in the research programme of Edelstein "Teatro Acústico / Acoustic Theatre."

"We wanted to make a concert of modern Latin American music with a proper dramaturgy. I had the idea to commission a new work by an avant-garde composer, Oscar Edelstein, as a way to go from a more popular first part of the concert, to a more serious second half, or from the brilliant surface to deeper meaning." Thomas Nidecker, Basel Sinfonietta

Rhythmical - multilayered sound fields develop like waves. Edelstein’s close woven music, continuing the tradition of Edgar Varèse, has a force which goes under the skin with a great vitality. Christian Fluri, Basellandschaftliche Zeitung

The electronic part carries the game of the orchestra into another space, another world, another sound universe, like a dream, like a recollection, or how it looks through a kaleidoscope, a prism with various refractions. Roswitha Frey, Badische Zeitung

Ensamble Nacional del Sur (1997 - )

Edelstein directs the ENS - Ensamble Nacional del Sur - an electro-acoustic ensemble created by him in 1997. His performances with the ENS are considered by the specialist critics as "the most relevant musical events of recent decades in Argentina", "the highest point in the experimental production of the continent" and "a historical imprint in the production of the avant-garde". Concerts in both Brazil and Argentina have achieved an almost cult status.

Over the last ten years the ENS have developed an enthusiastic audience for their dynamic concerts and regularly receive rave reviews. They have a loyal following for their distinctive concerts and play in all the best venues: Goethe-Institut, Teatro San Martín, Teatro Payró, Centro Cultural Ricardo Rojas, Casa de la Cultura del FNA, Centro Nacional de la Música, and La Trastienda(Buenos Aires); Auditorio Nicolás Cassullo (Quilmes); Teatro Argentina (La Plata); Auditorio del CePIA, Facultad de Artes (Córdoba); Centro Parque España (Rosario); Tres de Febrero (Paraná), Auditorio Bustelo (Mendoza), and Sala Martins Penna (Brasilia).

The format may look like instruments associated with the world of rock or jazz but the result is something completely different. Comparisons have made between Edgar Varèse and Astor Piazzolla, or from Frank Zappa to John Cage, but really what speaks about the music of the ENS is its driving rhythm and relentless quest for originality.

Since 1997, the ENS has been recognized as a research group and is part of the research project, led by Oscar Edelstein, at Quilmes University, "Teatro Acústica" / Acoustic Theatre. Formed like a live music lab of musicians, composers, artists and technicians, each member works to gather new skills and multiply their knowledge of the art of contemporary music. hey train together intensively to "extend" the limits of their musical technique, develop new ways of playing, & to create the sensation of "Composition in the Act", or in the moment.

Edelstein conducts the group with a specially developed system of hand signals so that he can not only designate time and intensity, but also timbrical and spatial options. He traditional musical notation systems combined with new and 3-dimensional models that he has specially created. He sees the ENS as a new instrument.

… cult, absolutely original, ultra-powerful & new. Carlos Marín, El Diario

It's music in a physical sense, authentic dithyrambic music, realized simultaneously with millImetric accuracy…. Federico Monjeau, Clarin

An unpredictable journey around a class of sonorous poetry…From the most tenuous & crystalline, up to the real explosion, it’s a fundamental disc, for its importance & originality but, especially, for its power of communication. Diego Fischerman, Pagina 12

The choice of instruments can be easily associated to the world of rock, but it is only a sound- colour as the group is impelled by Edelstein to explore zones that go much further, for example, than the advanced experience of Robert Fripp. Martín Liut, La Nación

…the most important musical event of the last decade in Argentina. Diego Fischerman, Pagina 12

To develop this new musical battle between creation & technology [Edelstein] can count on an invincible instrumental army, the ENS. Martín Liut, La Nación


La Foto del Tiempo (2008)

In 2008 Teatro 3 de Febrero, Paraná (province of Entre Rios - Argentina) celebrated it’s centenary with the commission of a new work by Edelstein for guitar and orchestra. The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional premiered the work under the direction of Pedro Ignacio Calderón and with the soloist Eduardo Isaac. At the same time the three were made "Ciudadano Ilustre" (Illustrious Citizen) as a tribute to their work in music.


Rivers and Mirrors: Part I (2007)

"Rivers and Mirrors: Part I" is a concert of piano, video and voice, subtitled "Monologue for Un-classic Piano, Perhaps in Six Parts with Two Impromptus - Like Lakes of Intuition - and an Invitation to Female Voice, Computer & Film."

The vocals and video were made by Deborah Claire Procter (Wales) with dancer Sandra Grinberg (Trisha Brown Dance Company) in the video. Music and images combined to create a strong atmosphere and sense of history. The concert meditates on the idea, "to be in the mirror or to cross the river."

The video was filmed in Buenos Aires in an abandoned factory, and the former national library made famous because it was where Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges worked.

Edelstein's particular distinction as a pianist is that he is a composer who plays the piano rather than a pianist. His non-standard "un-classical" approach to the piano is a search to open up new windows of sound and expression.

"[Edelstein] possesses a formidable pianistic technique…There is an intensity to the work that rarely loses its edge." Ray Picott, ILAMS (Iberia and Latin American Music Society, London)

"Edelstein's original music pushes the line between classical, contemporary and popular genres, and opens new windows of sound and expression." Karen Price Western Mail (Cardiff)

“Taking inspiration from myriad genres, the composer-cum-director-cum-pianist is one of the most innovative musicians around.” Sophie Hern, Metro (Cardiff)

In this performance the combination of sound and images creates a theatrical experience as much as a musical one. It is in line with Edelstein's project as a composer to investigate the "theatre of memory."

In this performance the combination of sound and images creates a theatrical experience as much as a musical one. It is in line with Edelstein's project as a composer to investigate the "theatre of memory."

The video was made possible through a grant from the Arts Council of Wales and Wales Arts International.

The concert made a tour of the UK in 2006; Tabernacle, Machynlleth; Corbett Road Concert Hall, Cardiff, and Bolivar Hall, London.


Act I - Soprano (Marisú Pavón) & Harmonica (Luis Salto)

Los Monstruito' (2006)

According to the press office of Teatro Colón "Los Monstruito" was “one of the most attractive premieres proposed in recent years by CETC (Centro de Experimentación del Teatro Colón)... As much as for the brilliant artistic paths of it’s authors, both emblematic in their respective fields, as for extremely controversial nature of it’s thematic content.”

The opera takes the metaphor of the three protagonists floating in a bubble outside of the reality of the world. It referred to the era of president Menem when one pesos equaled one dollar creating a “fiesta” and a buy now pay later mentality. This eventually led to the 2001 crisis in Argentina, to which many parallels have been drawn with the recent crisis in Europe, including it being nick named the “Tango Crisis.”

"Eterna Flotacion: Los Monstruito" was commissioned in 2006 by the experimental wing of Teatro Colón (CETC). Based around the political era of Carlos Menem, it was the first work to cover this period.

Chosen by poet Rodolfo Enrique Fogwill (1941 - 2010) on behalf of the Centre for Experimentation of Teatro Colón, Oscar Edelstein started the work of composing the opera in 2005. He made the script from two poems of Fogwill, "Contra el Cristal de La Pecera de Acuario" (Against the Glass of the Aquarium) and "El Antes de los Monstruito" from the book "Lo Dado" (The Given), transforming them into a continuous discourse that functions as a dramatic text.

It was staged in Teatro Margarita Xirgu (Buenos Aires) 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd September 2006.

"The aria Marisú Pavón sings in Act I with Luis Saltos' on-stage harmonica, and the hesitating breathing of the orchestra is anthological. Pavón shines from note to note." Federico Monjeau, Clarín

“...the show captivates because it’s carried out by a group of notable artists that demonstrate in every movement to have worked on a delivery seldom seen on the stage.” Juan Carlos Montero, La Nación

"Oscar Edelstein opens new horizons for modern music and opera in Argentina." La Nación

Described in his obituary, by Guardian critic Nick Caistor, as the “Outspoken writer who captured the violence and unpredictability of life in Argentina", Fogwill was a professor at the University of Buenos Aires, publisher of a legendary poetry book collection, essayist, and specialized columnist in communication subjects, literature and cultural politics. He was an award winning Argentinean sociologist, short story writer and novelist.

Los Monstruito' was the second work in which the colleagues and friends Fogwill and Edelstein worked together, the first being in 1997 when Fogwill was the recorded voice of a Pessoa poem in Edelstein's Klange, Klange, Urutaú.


Dos Improntus (2006)

In 2006, Edelstein released his CD, Dos Improntus, a work for piano and accordion, recorded with Raúl Barboza, the most famous popular folkloric accordionist in Argentina recognized as a chamamé artist of international status.

"Dos Improntus" is a dialogue between a piano and an accordion. The disc demonstrated how Edelstein continually pushes the musical line between the classical, the contemporary and the popular. Edelstein's motivation in asking Barboza to record with him was part of a desire to create a synthesis of the classical and the popular, to make an exchange where each could understand something new about the other.

“A collision of musical planets…Raúl Barboza and Oscar Edelstein realize a project together that breaks barriers, genres and prejudices.” La Nación

It is the musical meeting of composer and pianist, Oscar Edelstein, and accordionist, Raúl Barboza. The disc places the best of the popular, and the best of the contemporary classical, side by side and has caused much discussion in Argentina and Latin America about musical culture and it's divisions into different genres.

Sacred Theory of the Acoustic Space - Book I (2004)

First disc in Latin America conceived and recorded in Super Audio. The disc is multi layered so can be played in Super Audio, 5:1, or Stereo.

  1. Prologue and Introduction [4:38]
  2. Acoustic Grid - Gear [11:12]
  3. Omega 2 Omega 3 [1:49]
  4. H [10:28]
  5. Choir of the Sacred Theory of the Acoustic Space: Book 1 [3:03]
  6. Free [13:36]
  7. Epilogue - Shadows' Art
Oscar Edelstein - composer

Oscar Edelstein - composer

“Edelstein makes history with the first recording in Super Audio in Latin America." Martín Liut, La Nación

“The rhythmic organization ranges between a geometric form (a chromatic progression that erases the pulse) and forms an additive trail. Both forces are invoked mutually, rescuing a type of expression a little forgotten in the contemporary music. Maybe the music of the ENS has it’s spiritual precedent not in the electro-acoustic laboratory but a little before, in the percussive Ionisation of Edgar Varèse.” Federico Monjeau, Clarín

“With the ENS, Edelstein has found an "instrument" capable of making electro acoustic music, but with a blood like grip. The complex polyrhythmic textures and tímbres are the platform to launch the exploration of the space in three dimensions, an obsession that, now, Edelstein can register in a top format..." Martín Liut, La Nación

Oscar Edelstein - composer

Oscar Edelstein - composer

Tiradentes - The Dream of Heroes (2003)

Having written many operatic works (that Edelstein prefers to call “Acoustic Theatre”) it is "Tiradentes" that is perhaps the most noteworthy for its scale, vision and political impact. Composed to take place over three days taking over various parts of the city of Brasilia, it was the first opera to speak about the figure “Tiradentes” (Tooth Puller) who Edelstein calls "Brazil's only real national hero.”

"Tiradentes" (Joaquim José da Silva Xavier) led a revolt in 1789, known as the “La conspiración de Minas Gerais” - which for Edelstein was avant-garde because it was way before the French Revolution, and was the first act of self-determination in Brazil, contributing many many years later to Brazil's independence. The revolt failed and the body of Tiradentes was quartered into several pieces.

Edelstein’s opera was to be staged throughout Brasilia (Brazil’s famous model city designed by Oscar Niemeyer who was strongly influenced by Le Corbusier) in a symbolic re-assembling of the body of Tiradentes.

The complex project involved a team of more than two hundred actors, plastics artists, technicians and musicians from both countries, collaborations between Universidad de Quilmes and Universidade de Brasília, and received the backing of UNESCO and funding from prominent foundations. However, the project in its entirety was ultimately postponed by a combination of factors, including the controversy that the history of Tiradentes provoked (such as Tiradentes' known links to the freemasons), political and diplomatic problems between Argentina and Brazil, and political issues in Brazil. Though it is a project that was fully conceived, composed and scored by Edelstein; finally only part of it was performed. Edelstein hopes to one day complete the project as a film.

Sacred Theory of the Acoustic Space - Book I (2000)


The artistic result of research into dynamic control of acoustic space and it's artificial and illusory concepts.

"ENS, an invincible musical army, win a new battle between creation and technology." La Nación

Electric Guitar - Richard Arce; Electric & Acoustic Bass - Gerónimo Carmona; Acoustic Piano - Mario Castelli; Keyboards - Mariano Cura; Percussion - Diego Romero Mascaró, & Electric Guitar - Nicolás Varchausky


El Hecho (1998)

The work was made in memory of Juan Carlos Paz ( the composer who first brought ideas of the Second Vienna School to Argentina). It was inspired by the graphic design of Paz' score, Seis eventos [Six Events] - his last work that never musically realised. Edelstein says "I was interested in the moment when Paz chose, instead of the precise path, the labyrinth. I wanted to create from that act, from that "fact." This was the first work to pay homage to the famous Argentine composer.

"The theatrical idea is deep and the musical realization is fascinating" Clarí­n

"A true experimental work that opens new horizons for musical theatre in Argentina." La Nación

Original first staging: Electric Guitar - Richard Arce; Electric & Acoustic Bass - Gonzalo Serrano; Acoustic Piano - Mario Castelli; Keyboards - Mariano Cura; Percussion - Pablo Siroti; Electric Guitar - Nicolás Varchausky; Drums - Matí­as Gonzalez Goytia; Actors - Paula Ortega, Rodolfo Demarco, Poli Bontas; Images - Julián Teubal; Scenography - Julio Cardoso