Mario Lavista (April 3, 1943 – November 4, 2021) is considered one of Mexico's greatest composers. The musician's prolific body of works -considered ahead of his time- has been heard in several cities around the world. Lavista has also been an enthusiast of music education and essay writing. His achievements stem from that tireless spirit that drives human beings to undertake a quest to be heard.
Mario Lavista shaped a fundamental legacy to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, not only for his musical work but also for his work as a disseminator and teacher of numerous generations of music and composition professionals. His artistic and academic career enriched the cultural and musical life of the country and other latitudes, for which he was awarded multiple recognitions, including the National Prize of Sciences and Arts and the Mozart Medal in 1991, the distinction of Emeritus Creator by the then National Council for Culture and the Arts (Conaculta) in 1995, and the Commemorative Medal of the Palace of Fine Arts, in 2006, awarded by the then Conaculta and the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature. Since 1987 he was a member of La Academia de Artes; in 1998 he joined El Colegio Nacional and was an honorary member of the Seminario de Cultura Mexicana.
On November 22, 2013, he was awarded the XII SGAE Tomás Luis de Victoria Ibero-American Music Prize, a distinction granted for the first time to a Mexican composer, not only "for his relevant work, deeply rooted in the identity of his country and contributing to the creation of a universal language in Ibero-American culture, but also for his passion for teaching and generating knowledge with his extraordinary work as a teacher of new generations and disseminator of contemporary music," according to the jury's report.
Always open to experimentation and in constant search for the refinement of musical language, his work covers different formats, from music for solo instrument, as well as vocal music, chamber music, orchestra and his only opera, Aura, based on the work of Carlos Fuentes and made with a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation. Also noteworthy are his six-string quartets, especially No. 2, Reflejos de la noche, which is perhaps, together with Simurg for piano, one of his most programmed works, despite the interpretative difficulty involved. Likewise, Marsias for oboe and crystal glasses reflects Lavista's fascination for those other sounds hidden by the instruments.
Throughout his career, he developed a deep interest in other arts and interdisciplinary work. He composed works such as Música para un árbol and Bocetos para una rama (Sketches for a branch), based on the work of artist Sandra Pani. Dance was also part of his creative processes, so he composed music for several projects he developed in collaboration with his daughter, dancer, and choreographer Claudia Lavista, among them, Divertimento para una bruja, written for the choreographic work Memoria Ciega, part of the National Homage to Guillermina Bravo in 2020. His taste for film music was reflected in the soundtracks of films such as Cabeza de Vaca, Vivir mata, Eco de la montaña and María Sabina.
As part of his hard work in the dissemination and analysis of music, through El Colegio Nacional, he published the texts Cuadernos de música and 13 comentarios en torno a la música, and in collaboration with the Centro de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical Carlos Chávez (CENIDIM) he published the book Mario Lavista. Textos en torno a la música. He was also founder and director of the magazine Pauta, notebooks of music theory and criticism.
His commitment to the formation of new generations of composers was evident from the time he entered the National Conservatory of Music (CNM), where for more than 45 years he encouraged freedom of creation and experimentation with new instrumental techniques through the chairs of Analysis, Composition and Musical Language of the 20th century, thanks to which several of the most representative voices of composition in Mexico today were formed. His constant willingness to share his knowledge also led him to give seminars and lectures at prestigious universities abroad, mainly in the United States.
About his academic activities, Mario Lavista considered "that the exercise of teaching can be equally creative, it intervenes with the imagination and it is splendid to be in contact with young people and to be questioned in many ways". He also said that "there is a kind of social demand that tells me that one way of giving back to the nation for what it gave me is through teaching, preparing young people the best one can", and so he did.
Thanks to his close relationship with the CNM, in the framework of the 39th Manuel Enríquez International Forum of New Music (FIMNME) in 2017, the ensembles of Contemporary Music of the CNM and the Faculty of Music of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) performed the Mexican premiere of Cristo de San Juan de la Cruz, a work commissioned to Lavista in Spain to commemorate the centenary of Salvador Dalí's birth. Similarly, 2018 saw the presentation of his opera Aura, in the Silvestre Revueltas auditorium of the CNM, as part of an academic collaboration between the Ministry of Culture, INBAL, and the Ministry of the Navy.
Mario Lavista's music was a constant protagonist of different editions of FIMNME so, in 2013, the conference Mario Lavista: cuaderno de viaje was held, on the occasion of the composer's 70th anniversary.
In his permanent collaboration with INBAL, which he considered his creative home, Lavista Camacho left important contributions to the musical work of the country, in complicity with groups such as the National Symphony Orchestra (OSN), the Fine Arts Chamber Orchestra (OCBA), and especially with the Center for Experimentation and Production of Contemporary Music (CEPROMUSIC), groups that have given life to his music.
In February of this year, through INBAL's YouTube platform and as part of the initiative Contigo en la distancia, the Cepromusic in its Presencias cycle, transmitted a talk between José Luis Castillo and Mario Lavista, in which he exposed interesting reflections about the health situation and the musical work, as well as talking about his work Duelo, for trumpet, which can be heard and followed the score in the same session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d2VrB2Uj2c