Music, School of


First Advisor

Paul Barnes

Second Advisor

Mark Clinton

Third Advisor

Clark Potter

Date of this Version

Fall 12-2-2022


Zuloaga, Florencia. "Rediscovering Argentine Repertoire Written in the 1930s: A Performative Study of Concert Piano Works by Lita Spena and Celia Torrá." DMA thesis, University of Nebraska. Lincoln (Nebraska): 2022.


A DOCTORAL DOCUMENT Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, Major: Music (Piano Performance), Under the Supervision of Professor Paul Barnes. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2022

Copyright © 2022 Florencia M. Zuloaga


A survey of the piano repertoire written during the decade of 1930 in Argentina reveals the rising number of several works written by women composers. For the first time, the years that followed the inauguration of the National Conservatory of Music and Theater in 1924 witnessed a professionalization of women in the field of music composition, and two figures made great strides in this regard. Celia Torrá and Lita Spena stood out among the first female composition students at the National Conservatory and some of the first to succeed as professional composers. Furthermore, they were among the first women to be admitted into the National Music Society. The prestigious credential provided by this institution is a testimony of Torrá and Spena’s relevance in the Argentine academic music scene during the decade of 1930s.

The following study aims to rediscover the concert piano works written by Celia Torrá and Lita Spena between 1933 and 1939. The main purpose of this document is to create an analytical and interpretative guide for the performance of three pieces: Celia Torrá’s Piano Sonata (1933), Lita Spena’s Piano Sonata (1937) and Lita Spena’s Piano Preludes (1939). The goal of such stylistic examination is to demonstrate that the concert piano works written by Torrá and Spena represent two polar opposites of the compositional schools that coexisted in Argentina during the 1930s. How can we explain the contemporaneity of Celia Torrá’s Sonata, a piece with overt Romantic roots whose main theme evokes the Argentine northwest pre-Columbian past and its Indigenous traditions, and Lita Spena’s Preludes, which reflect the Debussyan approach of objective symbolism? A detailed study of the diverse musical trends occurring in Argentina during the 1930s will shed light on this matter. Through the performance and advancement of scholarly-based studies, I hope to bring awareness to this particular repertoire, bridging the gap between works of underrepresented composers and the traditional concert piano repertoire in general.

Advisor: Paul Barnes