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Fuga de Juan Moreira


Piano quintet
4 minutes



Year of composition

Program Note

Juan Moreira was a 19th-century folk hero, outlaw, and gaucho from eastern Argentina. His life of crime began when the Deputy Mayor Don Francisco, who envied his wife Vicenta, charged him with made-up fines. When a grocery-store owner borrowed 10,000 pesos from Moreira and refused to pay him back, the deputy jailed Moreira for two days for attempted robbery. Moreira challenged the grocer to a duel, won, and killed Don Francisco as he escaped. He never lost a knifefight (though he avoided conflict whenever possible) and he never removed the saddle from his horse so he would always be ready to flee trouble. In April 1874, a band of men surrounded him, and a soldier named Sgt. Chirino bayoneted him in the lung as he was scaling a wall. Even with a fatal wound, he managed to shoot out his killer's eye and injure another attacker.

This piece recounts the wild life of Moreira through a fast-paced tango quasi-fugue that has plenty of dissonance and a few moments of sweeping heroism. The title is a pun on the two definitions of fuga, "fugue" and "escape." You'll hear Chirino's fatal attack in the glissando in measure 144, as well as the final two injuries Moreira inflicted in two accented chords after.

Performance History

Fuga de Juan Moreira was premiered by Claire Sze and Elizabeth Kim, violins, El Wolhardt, viola, Rose Noskwith, cello, and Jason Brauer, piano, Interlochen Center for the Arts, MI, July 2018. 

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