(b Antofagasta, 2 Feb 1938). Chilean composer. At the age of 20 he abandoned architecture training for a career in music, studying composition with G.B. Schmidt and Roberto Falabella at the University of Chile. In 1969 he became a professor of composition there, taking over the artistic direction of the university television station the following year. Forced by political events to flee Chile in 1973, he settled in Paris, where he became director of the Ecole Nationale de Musique at Pantin.
Ortega's operas, songs, chamber music and film scores have been heard throughout Europe as well as in Chile. But he has reached his widest audience with his two political anthems Venceremos (‘We Shall Triumph’), composed in 1970 as the hymn for Salvador Allende's government, and El pueblo unido jamás será vencido (‘The People United will Never be Defeated’), written in May 1973 in protest against the growing right-wing movement in Chile. Political protest is also central to many of his operatic and vocal works; the writing of Pablo Neruda has proved a particular inspiration in this respect. His music incorporates atonal and other modernist techniques alongside a memorable lyricism, and draws on Chilean musical traditions, though rarely through the use of actual quotation and never merely for the sake of local colour.
Ops: La dama del canasto (musical comedy, 1, I. Aguirre), Santiago de Chile, 1965; Splendor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta (chbr op), 1969, rev. version, Santiago, 1998; Un roi sans soleil (chbr op, M. Rio), Colmar, 1974; Les traces de tes mains (chbr op, C. Pöppelreiter, after P. Neruda), Berlin, 1980; Messidor (Adamante, G. Destal and Ortega), Argenteuil, 1988; Le Louis perdu (J. Gaucheron), Pantin, 1989; Les contes de la Révolution à Aubervilliers (F. Combes), Aubervilliers, 1989; Le dernier domineur (C. Monet), Chalon-sur-Saône, 1990
Chbr and solo inst: Sonata, vc, 1960; De la vida de cuartel, db, pf, 1963; Bajo un cielo cada vez mas blanco, fl, 1965; Umbrales, piezas para muñecos, pf, 1970; Nocturne, fl, va, vc, gui, 1971; Quirivan, vc, 1979, rev. 1983; Doloritas, brass qnt, 1980; Acoso y muerte de un hombre, str qt, 1983; El Alfarero, org, 1984; El monte y el río, pf trio, 1985; Récit d'un naufrage (G. García Márquez), spkr, 7 sax, 1990
Cants.: La fragua (Ortega), spkr, male chorus, chbr orch, 1972; Bernardo O'Higgins (Neruda), 6 solo vv, fl, gui, va, vc, db, pf, perc, 1978; Chant de rivalité (M. Rossi), 4 solo vv, tpt, synth, pf, db, perc, 1978; Les deux mères (Ortega), S, Mez, chorus, 2 fl, cl, archlute, vc, db, pf, 2 perc, 1986
Other vocal: Primeras noticias de mi muerte (M. Muñoz Lagos), Bar, 2 vn, 2 va, 2 vc, 1961; Soneto primitivo para un editorialista mercenario (P. Neruda), Bar, fl, db, pf, perc, 1962; Responso por el guerillero muerto (Neruda), S, 2 perc, 1967; Los cantos del capitán (Neruda), S, pf, 1982; Ballades pour la paix (E. Sanguineti), S, Bar, 2 spkrs, 12 insts, 1986, collab. F. Goldmann, H. Gramatges, K. Huber, L. Lombardi; Le prince heureux (after O. Wilde), S, cb, perc, 1990
Political anthems, incl. Venceremos, 1970; El pueblo unido jamás será vencido, 1973; incid music, film scores
(b Tulancingo, Hidalgo, 1825; d Mexico City, 17 Nov 1875). Mexican composer. A younger son of the littérateur and statesman Francisco Ortega (1793–1849), he entered the Seminario Conciliar at Mexico City in 1837, S Ildefonso seminary in 1840, and the School of Medicine in 1841, graduating in 1845. He had a distinguished career in medicine, and was also a founding member (1866) of the Sociedad Filarmónica Mexicana. At the Gran Teatro Nacional on 1 October 1867 a military band and 20 pianists united in a grandiose performance of his march, the Zaragoza (1863, published in 1867 as op.9 and dedicated to the hero who defeated the French on 5 May 1862), which became Mexico’s second national anthem. At the same concert were played his Potosina and Republicana marches. His opera in nine scenes Guatimotzin, setting a libretto by José Cuellar about the defence of Mexico by the last Aztec ruler Cuauhtémoc (?1502–25), had its première at the Gran Teatro Nacional on 13 September 1871, with Angela Peralta and Enrico Tamberlik in the leading roles. Although Ortega’s music for the supposedly Tlaxcalan tzotzopizahuac danced in the opera strongly recalls the third movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the score as a whole later caused him to be hailed as a Mexican Glinka. His piano Invocación a Beethoven op.2, first performed in 1867 and published by Wagner & Levien, helped to initiate a vogue that culminated in the first Beethoven Festival at Mexico City in 1871. The same firm also published a number of his salon piano pieces.
M.Domínguez: Obituary, Gaceta médica de México, x/23 (1 Dec 1875)
O.Mayer-Serra: Panorama de la música mexicana desde la independencia hasta la actualidad (Mexico City, 1941), 88–92, 138–46 [with musical examples]
O.Mayer-Serra: Música y músicos de Latinoamérica (Mexico City, 1947) [with bibliography]
R.Stevenson: Music in Mexico: a Historical Survey (New York, 1952/R), 203f, 209
G.Baqueiro Fóster: Historia de la música en México (Mexico City, 1964), 220–32
Diccionario Porrúa de historia, biografía y geografía (Mexico City, 3/1971), 1532
M.Kuss: ‘The “Invention” of America: Encounter Settings on the Latin American Lyric Stage’, RdMc, xvi (1993), 198–201