Silvina Milstein

Silvina Milstein


Personal profile

Research interests

Silvina Milstein studied at Glasgow University, where her composition teachers were Judith Weir and Lyell Cresswell, and completed her graduate studies at Cambridge University under the supervision of Alexander Goehr. In the late eighties she held research fellowships at Jesus College and King's College, Cambridge.

She has received commissions from prestigious ensembles and the BBC and several of her chamber works have been recorded by Lontano (Fire dressed in Black: Silvina Milstein Chamber Music, LORELT).  Her music has been played by some of the world’s leading orchestras, ensembles and performers in Britain and abroad, such as the Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt), the London Sinfonietta, Lontano,  the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the BBC Singers, the Endellion String Quartet, and Jane Manning.  Her compositions have been championed by the conductors Oliver Knussen and Odaline de la Martinez, who have been instrumental in the commissioning of many of her compositions.

Over the past ten years she has explored musical forms arising from heightened states of awareness, borrowing from a wealth of artistic media and spiritual traditions. These preoccupations are evident in her recent works for the London Sinfonietta, Tigres azules being an investigation of the compositional potential of treating the  ‘present moment as an infinite dream’, and surrounded by distance an exploration of the indefinable, yet seemingly precise manner in which musical shapes and configurations arise spontaneously as evocative appearances and illusory continuities as described in the Lankatavara Sutra.

An important strand in Silvina Milstein’s music is the use of evocative gestures that draw from the vernacular of Buenos Aires, which she evolved in music of the city (1995) and a media luz (2000), as a means of furnishing a composition with a sense of modality. These pieces are like kaleidoscopic collages made out of evocative fragments of characteristic rhythms, turns-of-phrases’, and sonorities from Argentinean popular music (tango, milonga, bolero), embodied in textures inspired by the music of the Second Viennese School.

Although the main focus of her work for the last two decades has been in composition, there is much overlap between Silvina Milstein's analytical work and her compositional thinking.  For instance her article on Alexander Goehr's Schlussgesang is an attempt to provide  a reconstruction of compositional process and its realtion to Schoenbergian dodecaphony. Her main area of expertise is the music of Arnold Schoenberg. In Arnold Schoenberg: notes, sets, forms (Cambridge University Press), she proposes a hypothetical reconstruction of Schoenberg's conception of compositional process in his twelve-tone music.  More recently she has been exploring the notions of time and form that emerged in the music of Schoenberg between 1909 and 1930, focusing on the concurrence of Schoenberg's radical experiments in these areas with ideas favoured in psychoanalytical and mystical circles at the turn-of-the century.




Research interests (short)

Composition; analysis and history of 20th-century music; Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, A study of structural functions in the twelve-tone music of Arnold Schoenberg, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 1988

Master of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 1984

Bachelor of Music, University of Glasgow

Award Date: 1 Jan 1983


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