Dieter Lehnhoff

(b. 27 May 1955, Guatemala City).

Guatemalan composer, also a citizen of Germany, of mostly orchestral, chamber and choral works that have been performed in the Americas, Europe and elsewhere; he is also active as a conductor and scholar.

Mr. Lehnhoff studied violin privately with José Santos Paniagua in Guatemala City from 1964–72 and composition and piano privately with Harold Blanchard in Guatemala City from 1970–72, then studied analysis with Friedrich Heller and composition and electronic music with Klaus Ager at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg from 1972–76. He later studied composition with Conrad Bernier, conducting with Donald Thulean and musicology with Cyrilla Barr, Helmut Braunlich, Ruth Steiner, and Robert M. Stevenson at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C., where he earned his MA in 1987 and his PhD with distinction in 1990.

Among his honours are the Premio Centroamericano 15 de septiembre (1985), the prize Artista del Milenio (2000), the prize Líder 2001 for outstanding achievement from the Consejo Empresarial de Guatemala (2001), and two awards from the Unión de Compositores Guatemaltecos (Premio in the competition Día del Compositor, 2005, for Tardes de feria; Primer Premio in the competition Nacionalidad, 2005, for Chaaj: El Juego de pelota Maya). His music has been performed in Argentina, Austria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the USA, the UK, and Venezuela.

As a conductor, he has served as director of and violinist in the Ensemble Millennium since 1992 and conducted the Nueva Orquesta Filarmónica de Guatemala from 1994–96, with both of which he made a series of CDs with premières of 64 works by 23 composers from Guatemala from the 16th–20th century, a commission from the Historia General de Guatemala (1992–99, Asociación de Amigos del País). He also served as music director of the Orquesta Millennium in Guatemala City from 1998–2004 and has served as music director of the Coro Nacional de Guatemala since 2002. Moreover, he served as principal guest-conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica in Heredia.

As a scholar, he has edited three series of unpublished scores by composers from Guatemala, Portugal and Spain. He has written numerous articles for journals and reference books, as well as the books Espada y pentagrama: la música polifónica en la Guatemala del siglo XVI (1986), Rafael Antonio Castellanos: vida y obra de un músico guatemalteco (1994), Música y músicos de Guatemala (1995), Huellas de la guerra en el arte musical (1999), and Creación musical en Guatemala (2005, Universidad Rafael Landívar/Fundación G&T Continental).

He is also active in other positions. He co-founded the Consejo Iberoamericano de la Música in Madrid in 1994. He organised two international festivals for youth orchestras in 1996–97 and the Foro de Compositores del Caribe in 1999. He founded the Consejo Guatemalteco de la Música in 1999, now a member of the UNESCO International Music Council, and has served as its president since 1999.

He founded the department of music of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala in Guatemala City and served as its chair from 1991–98. He served as director of cultural affairs at the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala City in 1985–86 and founded its Instituto de Musicología in 1990, of which he has served as director since 1990. He has given lectures at more than 30 festivals in the Americas and Europe and taught as an invited professor at the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica in 2007.


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Streichquartett (music-theatre work, vocalise), 23 actors–voices, string quartet, 1974

Milarepa Superstar (musical comedy, text by the composer), speaker, mixed chorus, mime group, dance troupe, cuatro (plucked instrument from Latin America), guitar, piano, folk percussion from Guatemala, 1977

Satuyé (opera, libretto by the composer), 2006–


Kammersinfonie, small orchestra, 1975

Sones de antaño, 1984 (concert suite from film Antigua)

Aforismos, large orchestra, 1989

Symphony No. 2, 'Sinfonía para un Nuevo Milenio', 1990, revised 2006

Partita, 1992

Cantares del Llano, string orchestra, 1993

Preámbulum, 1995

Ka'i Xajoj, marimba obbligato, orchestra, 1997

Concerto No. 1, piano, orchestra, 2005

Concerto No. 2, piano, orchestra, 2007


Canto IV, E-flat clarinet, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 1985

In memoriam, clarinet/viola, violin, cello, 1988

Santelmo, violin, 1990

Sonatina, flute, guitar, 1991

Incidente en Izabal, clarinet, marimba, 1998

Kyrieleis, string quartet, 2002

Tardes de feria, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 2005

Diferencias, string quartet, 2006


Requiem, male chorus, fixed media, 1975

Canciones criollas (text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1977

Cantos latinos de Natividad (texts from ancient sources from Latin America), mixed chorus, 1988

Misa de San Isidro, mixed chorus, 2001

Aleluya Landivariano, mixed chorus, 2001


Chaaj: El Juego de pelota Maya (text by the composer), female voice, 2 marimbas (7 players), percussion, 2003


Hai-kai, 1976

Pieces for Children, 1979

La Vida es sueño, 1985


Sanctus, fixed media, 1975

Memorias de un día remoto, fixed media, 1999

Rituales nocturnos, fixed media, 1999


Antigua, orchestra, 1984 (Giovanni Fabietti; a concert suite was arranged as Sones de antaño)