top of page

Lia Cimaglia

Ivan Rolon

Lia Cimaglia Espinosa (1906-1998) was an Argentine pianist and composer. Since she was a child, she showed her inclination and her great musical talent. Alberto Williams (1862-1952) offered her a scholarship to study piano and composition with him at his Conservatory and chamber music with Celestino Piaggio (1886-1931), graduating with first prize and a gold medal (Carrascosa, 2011: 31). He continued his training at the National Conservatory of Music and Performing Arts founded by Carlos López Buchardo (1881-1948) in 1924 with the Polish teacher Jorge de Lalewicz (1875-1951), who had been a disciple of Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), and had worked as a teacher in the conservatories of Odessa, Krakow, and Vienna, and would later settle in Buenos Aires as successor in the Piano Chair of the National Conservatory of the maestro Ernesto Drangosch (1882-1925). Lalewicz incorporated the novelty of playing from memory, and the use of the arm at rest, with a richer sound. Pianists and composers such as Pía Sebastiani (1925-2015), Silvia Eisenstein (1917-1986), Flora Nudelman (1923-1986), among others, were also trained with him (De Marinis, 2010:62). Then, in 1938, Lia Cimaglia received a scholarship from the National Commission for Culture to study in Europe and make Argentine music known. There she studied with Alfred Cortot (1877-1962), Isidor Philipp (1863-1958) and Yves Nat (1890-1956).

During the course of her career as a pianist, she devoted herself to the dissemination of the work of composers of diverse origins and styles. In Paris, she appeared at the Sala Pleyel, receiving an excellent reception from critics and the public, who consecrated her as "interpreter of Debussy" after presenting the entirety of her preludes (Sosa de Newton, 1986: 144). The Second World War forced her to return to Argentina, where she held the first auditions in this territory of various works, including the concerto for piano and orchestra No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), and the concerto for piano and orchestra N°1 by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), among others. She also recorded the complete works of Alberto Williams, his first teacher, for whom he had a profound admiration throughout her life: "... although I also studied with several other teachers, Williams was my second father, and I was always by his side... his memory is respected and loved…” (Carrascosa, 2016:29). Works by composers such as Albert Wolff, Rodolfo Arizaga, and Alberto Ginastera were dedicated to her, which she performed in world premieres. He recorded for the Odeón, RCA Víctor, Philips Argentina, Editorial of the National University of Rosario, the collections published by the Municipality of Buenos Aires, and the Inter-American Editions of the Organization of American States (OEA) in addition to carrying out a great number of tours in our country, in the three Americas and Europe (Sosa de Newton, 1986:144).

But in addition to his career as a performer, he devoted himself to composition, being placed among the composers of the generation of '39 (Carrascosa, 2011:27). Her first works date from the age of six. Her mature production shows a refined elegance, in accordance with the expressive canon of the French school and the Impressionist currents. This search had been initiated through the guidance of Williams and continued with her successive teachers. The themes of her works are frequently inspired by the traditional rural music of the Argentine pampas through an elaborate harmony and the use of free forms (Carrascosa, 2016: 30). In this double role of interpreter and composer, she premiered in Paris her preludes in homage to Debussy and her Argentine Suite for piano. These unpublished preludes are part of the tonal system, with clear references to harmonic features typical of French Impressionism, such as parallelisms of fifths, whole tone scales, modal turns, chromaticisms, dissonances without preparation or resolution, fifths augmented in succession, chords of sevenths and ninths, and with added seconds and sixths, and so on, introducing, in turn, stylized nationalist rhythms and using cyclical structures in musical forms (Carrascosa, 2016:36). However, despite the good reception of her works, she had many years without production, subordinating her career as a composer to her work as a pianist, which resulted in a catalog mostly limited to short works for piano and voice and piano.

She received numerous awards and distinctions: 1927 Municipal Award for her three Argentine songs, "La Venus Dorada" awarded by the Women's Circle institution to transcendent women, "International Award in the Year of Women" by the Executive and Directive Body of the Universal Congress, “Award for Best Argentine Record” in Buenos Aires awarded by critics, “Héctor Villa Lobos Award” by the museum that bears his name and the Brazilian Ministry of Culture and Education. In 1982, the "Grand Prize of Honor" of the O.E.A. In recognition of her career, awarded for the first time an Argentine interpreter. She was also a member of the Directory of the Society of Authors and Composers (Carrascosa, 2011: 32).

Her work, as it can be reconstructed from bibliographic citations, includes (Carrascosa, 2015: 35):

Music for stage:

  • Égloga de Nochebuena (1934)

  • El Carnaval del Diablo (1943)

  • El trigo es de Dios (1949) (Works of the playwright and poet Juan Oscar Ponferrada)


  • Prelude. without/date

  • Ballet (for small orchestra). w/d


  • For violin and piano: Serenade (1920 – 1928), Poem (1939- 1940) and Nocturne (1939- 1940)

  • For cello and piano: Leyendas. (1920 – 1928)

Voice and piano (only the edited works):

  • Sueño (1920-1928)

  • Sueño de atardecer (1920 – 1926)

  • Ave marina (1925 - 1928)

  • La Palma (1925- 1928)

  • La razón de mi cariño (1925- 1928)

  • La Canción del Chingolo, Vidita (Municipal Prize 1927)

  • Duérmete Alma mía (1928).

  • Si quieres que yo te diga (1928)

  • Décimas (1928).

  • Balada (1928 – 1929)

  • ¿Por qué me llamas? (1929 – 1930)

  • Botoncito (1930)

  • Chacarera (1931)

  • Palomita (1932)

  • Triste (1934)

  • Coplas de la soledad (1934)

  • Canción (1934)

  • Vida, Vidita, Vidala (1935)

  • La madre triste, Dame la mano, En donde tejemos la ronda (1935)

  • Idilio (1936- 1940)

  • La noche blanca de Luna (1939 – 1940)

  • La canción de Burbuja (1938 – 1940)

  • La canción de Jou – jou (1939 – 1940)

  • Tú, mi niño de Agua (1939- 1940)

  • Ronda de la niña rubia (1940)

  • Señora Santana (1942)

Choir "a capella":

  • Don Juan Carnaval y Carnaval alegre (for 4 voices). w/d

  • Mira esa flor dolorida (for 2). w/d

  • Algarrobo, algarrobal y Carnaval carnavalcito (for 3 voices). w/d

  • Baguala para canto y caja. w/d

Choir and organ:

  • Égloga religiosa. w/d


  • Little Mazurka. w/d

  • Improvisation (1911)

  • Cajita de Música (1912)

  • Argentine Suite: a) Preludio Norteño, b) Lamento del Indio, c) Danza (1936 – 1937)

  • Three Preludes (Homage to Debussy) (1936 - 1938)

  • Rythm from Milonga (1939)

  • Recuerdos de mi tierra (Suite): I- Evocación Criolla, II- Danza, III- Milonga, IV- Zapateado (1939)

  • Preludio, Triste y Danza (1940)

  • Canto y Danza. (1958)

  • Tango 70 (1975)

  • Children pieces: Pequeña Mazurca, Piecita, Pequeño Pericón, Vals para la muñeca, Arrorró (1979)

However, much of the material cited in the bibliography is lost or unedited.


It is one of the last works composed by Lia Cimaglia, after almost 20 years of compositional inactivity. It was published in 1975 by the Lucchelli Bonadeo Institute. The work consists of a stylized tango. It has sections with a uniform rhythm, harmonic progressions through descending fifths and seconds, using a harmonic color reminiscent of French impressionism, a polyphonic texture with imitative fragments, a cyclical layout of the rondo-type form, and the use of the third of Picardy to conclude, showing elements of affiliation and baroque heritage (Carrascosa, 2010:240-241). Through YouTube you can also access the interpretation of the composer herself of this work. Here is my interpretation:


CARRASCOSA, Flavia (2010) “Influencias barrocas en dos obras para piano: Partita de Elsa Calcagno y Tango 70 de Lia Cimaglia Espinosa.” Lecture – Concert presented at the I International Piano Congress: Latin American Piano Music. Buenos Aires: Universidad Nacional de Cuyo - Instituto Universitario Nacional del Arte. p.233-242 [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 08/11/2020]

CARRASCOSA, Flavia (2011) “Dos mujeres, dos creadoras, dos estilos: Elsa Calcagno – Lia Cimaglia Espinosa. Un abordaje comparativo desde la interpretación”. From 4’ 33’’ Online Journal of Musical Research. DAMUS. IUNA. No. 4 p.27-37. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 08/11/2020 ]

CARRASCOSA, Flavia (2015) “La investigación aplicada a la interpretación musical. La obra para piano de Lia Cimaglia Espinosa”. Twelfth meeting of cognitive sciences of music. Universidad Nacional de San Juan. Minutes of ECCoM. Vol. 2 Nº 2, “La Experiencia Musical: Cuerpo, Tiempo y Sonido en el Escenario de Nuestra Mente. 12º ECCoM”. Isabel C. Martínez, Alejandro Pereira Ghiena, Mónica Valles and Matías Tanco (Editors). Buenos Aires: SACCoM. pp. 33-37 [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 11/08/2020]

CARRASCOSA, Flavia (2016) “Preludios de mujeres : abordaje comparativo del empleo de la forma en la obra de Elsa Calcagno y Lia Cimaglia Espinosa” Week of Music and Musicology: El piano. Historia, didáctica e interpretación, XIII. Universidad Católica Argentina, Facultad de Artes y Ciencias Musicales - Instituto de Investigación Musicológica “Carlos Vega”, Digital repository, p. 22-44. Buenos Aires. [Online] Available at: [Accesed: 11/08/2020]

DE MARINIS, Dora (2010) Las escuelas pianísticas en Argentina: una aproximación preliminar. From Revista Huellas N°7 p. 57-66. Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. Facultad de Artes y Diseño. [Online] Available at: [Accesed: 11/08/2020]

SOSA DE NEWTON, Lily (1986) Diccionario biográfico de mujeres argentinas. 3a edición Buenos Aires. Editorial Plus Ultra. [Online] Available at: [Accesed: 11/08/2020]

0 visualizaciones0 comentarios
bottom of page