Stream Music of Venezuela’s Greatest Composers

By Daniel Goldberg |

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A man plays the cuatro, a Venezuelan instrument in the guitar family, in the streets of Caracas

Explore music of Venezuela’s greatest composers, past and present, as KAIA String Quartet taking you on a musical journey throughout Latin America. KAIA, WFMT’s first ensemble in residence, is sharing the music of Venezuela weekdays from May 15 – 19 through daily segments that air at 9:05 am and 6:00 pm on WFMT.

You’ll hear several centuries of music, including works by Gabriela Montero, Juan Bautista Plaza, and more. Find each segment below after it airs, and discover more Latin American music with KAIA through July 2017 as the quartet continues its WFMT residency.

Juan Bautista Plaza: Advocate for Venezuelan Musical Culture

Juan Bautista Plaza first studied medicine before he focused on music.

Juan Bautista Plaza was a composer, educator, promoter, and researcher of Venezuelan music. Known as one of the champions of Venezuelan nationalism, he strove to expose the traditional music of his home country to the rest of the world. One of his most well-known works is the Fuga Cirolla or Native Fugue. It sounds as if J.S. Bach took a vacation to Caracas, Venezuela!

Antonio Lauro: Drawn to the Guitar

Guitarist and composer Antonio Lauro. (Photo: Desde La Plaza)

Antonio Lauro is among the greatest composers of the guitar in the 20th century.  Originally trained to be a pianist, Lauro saw the great Paraguayan composer and guitarist, Agustín Barrios perform a concert and soon abandoned the piano for the guitar.  Championed by Andrés Segovia, Leo Brouwer, and John Williams  his music is melodically serene but contains a distinctive syncopation which feels like Venezuela. His Four Venezuelan Waltzes are a perfect example of Lauro’s mastery of the guitar.

Gabriela Montero: Heart and Soul of Venezuela

Pianist and activist Gabriela Montero. (Photo:

Gabriela Montero is one of the most celebrated living performers today. As a pianist, she has performed in many major houses around the world – from the Kennedy Center to Luxembourg Philharmonie to Tokyo Orchard Hall – and won the award for Best Classical Album at the 2015 Latin Grammy Awards.  Also a political activist, she has used her music to bring attention to many of the problems facing Venezuela today. Known for her skills as an improviser, here are two of her politically inspired improvisations: Sin Aire (Without Air) and Mi Venezuela Llora (My Venezuela Cries).

Teresa Carreño: Valkyrie of the Piano

Teresa Carreño (Photo: George Warren)

Teresa Carreño was a Venezuelan pianist, singer, and composer. Considered one of the best pianists of the 19th century, Carreño made her performing debut at the age of 8 and even performed for President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. During her tour of Europe she garnered the name “Valkyrie of the Piano” due to her powerful playing and unbounded energy and passion for music. As a composer, Carreño penned over 40 pieces, including works for solo piano, chamber ensemble, and voice. Her Le corbeille de fleurs (Basket of Flowers), is a piano work that blends musical traditions from Europe and her native Venezuela.

Inocente Carreño: All the Colors of Venezuela

Composer Inocente Carreño. (Photo: Fabiola Ferrero)

Inocente Carreño was a leader of Latin American classical music in the 20th century. He started his musical life arranging popular music but went on to study music in Caracas and became a trumpeter in the Venezuelan Symphony Orchestra, a group he would later conduct. Carreño composed for orchestra, piano, and voice alike. His best known piece is “Margariteña,” a suite dedicated to the folk and popular music of his homeland.  In this spirited and colorful musical celebration, Carreño interweaves themes from various popular songs with orchestra.