Elbio Rodríguez Barilari

(b. 1953, Montevideo).

Uruguayan composer, now resident in the USA, of orchestral, chamber and piano works that have been performed throughout the Americas and Europe; he is also active as a musician and writer.

Mr. Barilari studied at the Escuela Universitaria de Música of the Universidad de la República in Montevideo from 1974–78 and privately with Coriún Aharonián and Graciela Paraskevaídis in Montevideo at the same time, as well as privately with Héctor Tosar in Montevideo in 1976–77 and in the 1980s. He later attended the Cursos Latinoamericanos de Música Contemporánea in Brazil and studied with Milko Kelemen, Helmut Lachenmann and Dieter Schnebel in Germany in 1984, on an invitation from the Deutscher Musikrat.

Among his honours is a commissioning grant from the Sara Lee Foundation (2004, for Alturas de Machu Picchu).

As a musician, he is active as both a clarinettist and saxophonist. He played in various blues, jazz and rock bands in Uruguay, including Franco Frances, the Hot Club Jazz Ensemble, the Kakums Big Band, and Trio Sagittarius. He led the Barilari Quinteto and the avant-garde ensemble La Banda Oriental from 1994–97 and organised the blues band Planeta Blues from 1994–97. He has been a member of the improvisational/interactive ensemble Global Warming in Chicago since 2005.

As a writer, his works include the novel Lugares Comunes (1987, Ediciones de la Banda Oriental) and four collections of short stories, Posibles Versiones (1985, Ediciones de la Banda Oriental), Fuera de la Nada (1986, Ediciones de la Banda Oriental), Alarmas y Excursiones (1990, Ediciones de la Banda Oriental), and La Mitad del Infinito (1994, Ediciones de la Banda Oriental). In addition, he co-wrote with Juan Capagorry a book on folk and popular music from Uruguay, Aquí se canta (1982, Editorial Arca). As a journalist, he worked as a music critic for the newspaper El País in Montevideo from 1977–98 and has written a weekly column for the same publication since 1988. He served as editor-in-chief of the newspaper La Raza in Chicago from 1999–2005 and has served as director of the bilingual magazine on culture Arena Cultural in Chicago since 1999.

He is also active in other positions. He served as an advisor to the Ministerio de Educación y Cultura in Uruguay from 1995–97 and as the Uruguayan delegate to the cultural section of MERCOSUR from 1995–97. He served as deputy commissioner of the Committee for the Reform of the State of Illinois Code of Education in 2001 and has served as a member of the Community Advisory Council of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2001 and of its Programming Committee since 2005. Moreover, he has helped to organise programmes of Latin-American music at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago since 2002.

He teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has given guest lectures at the Instituto Cervantes in Chicago, the University of Chicago and other institutions. He has given workshops in Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.

He has lived in the USA since 1998.


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Tangata, large orchestra, 1994

Baroque Concerto, oboe, string orchestra, 1997

Concerto, bandoneón, small orchestra (harp, piano, 3 percussion, strings), 2002

Alturas de Machu Picchu, 2004

Canyengue Grosso, large orchestra, 2005 (version of Canyengue)


Otro tiempo, otro espacio, string quartet, 1982

Three Pieces, guitar, 1983

Canyengue, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 2005 (also version as Canyengue Grosso, large orchestra)


Luna de plata, 2000

Three Piano Pieces, 2001

Atlantic Pieces, 2002