I returned from an exhausting weekend away to a letter the death of Maestro Efrain Guigui at 81. He died in Los Angeles this past June from cancer, but these details eluded me. I know this is late in coming, but he will be missed by gneerations composers. Those of us who had the privelage of attending the Composers' Conference at Wellesley (I went twice, was honored to do so) got to meet this Argentinian spitfire, a man slight of stature but huge of personality, talent, and enthusiasm for American music. In fact, in his quiet way, I'd wager more American music was premiered under Maestro Guigui's Baton than under anyone else.
Like any good Maestro adressing the adepts, he could be fierce and demanding, but it was always in the service of music--of your
music in specific--and after the rehearsal any unpleasantness was always forgiven. He led one piece of mine, my Thursday Night Overture
, with such clarity and musical heft, and I personally saw him do this with dozens of demanding, complex pieces wrought in many styles.
Personally, he was a very generous man: I dined with him and his wife in Los Angeles on a number of occasions (always a steakhouse, he always treated despite protestations) and loved his warmth, his passion, his stories. I iaughed a lot, as did he, and I think that is what I will always remember about him.
So, months later, goodnight Maestro. The world is lighter with you gone, and the cause of American Music has suffered a deep and irreversible blow by your passing. But welucky composers who got to learn so much from you will be forever in your debt, and I am honored to count myself among them.