Robert Xavier Rodríguez
by Richard Rodda
from Schirmer Brochure:
At a time in the history of music when the sources from which a composer may draw are richer than they have ever been, Robert Xavier Rodríguez has found a way to utilize a treasured legacy of previous centuries while carving out his own personal stylistic language. Nadia Boulanger has written, “Robert Rodríguez is one of these naturally gifted composers, born to ‘create’ and, moreover, to create music...it represents a great responsibility for the young composer to receive such power. But nothing seems to stop Robert Rodríguez: he answers to an inner call with fright and certainty, never lacking the courage that characterizes his creativity.” Rodríguez describes his approach in terms of Copland’s compositional goal: “to show how it feels to be alive today.” Rodríguez believes he and his contemporaries are “at an exciting plateau in history when composers are taking stock and letting the audience catch up. Instead of searching for new techniques, composers now are putting it all together and enjoying the sounds we have discovered rather than the process by which we derived them.”
Rodríguez has composed in all genres — opera, orchestral, concerto, ballet, vocal, choral, chamber, solo, and music for the theater — but he has been drawn most strongly in recent years to works for the stage, including music for children. His skillful command of the multi-hued palette of modern music includes mastery of such diverse musical elements as Pre-Columbian music; Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music; quotations from Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; tango; ragtime; bluegrass; Dixieland; jazz; and mariachi — often combining multiple stylistic layers within a single composition. Critics have noted that Robert Rodríguez is “a colorful composer with Romantically dramatic inclinations” (The Washington Post) who possesses “a penchant for richly lyrical atonality” (Musical America) and “an all-encompassing sense of humor” (Los Angeles Times). When Rodríguez was honored by The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the citation read, in part, “Rodríguez’s music is striking for its variety and warmth of expression brought into artistic focus by a strong sense of stylistic integrity. Its originality lies...in the telling personality it reveals. His music always speaks, and speaks in the composer’s personal language.”
…An important component of Rodríguez’s work is what he calls “the human element” in music. As he observes, “Stravinsky said he was ‘impatient with music that doesn’t sing or dance.’ Amen. I’m also impatient with music that doesn’t laugh, or at least smile, as much as it weeps, sulks, or gnashes its teeth. If performers and audiences are going to find something of their own hopes, dreams, personalities and experiences in a composer’s music, then the composer must try to embrace the complete range of human experience: comic as well as tragic. Music is not just sound and time. For me, music is human experience distilled into sound and time. First comes the experience; the music follows. After all, people are far more interesting than musical instruments.”
©1994, G. Schirmer, Inc.