SONATA, Gustavo Britos Zunín

SONATA, Gustavo Britos Zunín

Gustavo Britos Zunín

GUSTAVO BRITOS ZUNÍN (b. 1941) is a Uruguayan pianist, composer and pedagogue who is currently engaged in composition, both symphonic and chamber music, and in giving intensive courses to advanced students.

He has a scientific methodology for teaching music, considering elements as techniques, interpretation and a fast and efficient memorization of a large repertoire. This methodology also includes anatomy, psychology and other learning processes. Furthermore, he is also the author of some systems of teaching plans.

Britos has researched in various fields of knowledge, has published several analytics articles about current problems of composition and general theory of music.

Read more on the composer’s website.


Acquire it on the composer’s website. 4 pages. Duration: ca. 12:00. Post-romantic.

Grade: INTERMEDIATE-HIGH. Range (written): B2 – C6

Technical elements: Breath control (long phrases). Variety of articulations. Fast excerpts in staccatto. Altissimo register. Intonation. Diversity of dynamics Portamenti.

Performance: To play the lyric sections very expressively. To play the fast sections with ease. Conjunction with the piano (sound lays).


The Sonata by GUSTAVO BRITOS ZUNÍN is composed in a single movement in three parts, which the central is calm and reflective and the first and third are fast and bright. The whole sonata is very lyric and expressive. I still remember the email conversations with the composer some weeks before the premiere when we were talking about the treatment of baritone saxophone, among other details. I really like it and think that this work will fit into the repertoire of those baritone players who enjoy playing transcriptions because don’t find suitable original pieces.

I premiered this SONATE FOR BARITONE SAXOPHONE AND PIANO with Bulgarian pianist Vanya Pesheva in Bertrange (Luxembourg) on December 3rd, 2017.

I wanted do to something different on the comment of the work for this occasion and proposed the composer to participate in it. So, I sent Gustavo Britos an open questionnaire where he explains different thoughts as the reason of the election of the baritone saxophone, his opinion about classical music, etc. Hope you find it interesting.

Here it is:

JOAN MARTÍ-FRASQUIER: Had you have already written for baritone saxophone (or used it in other works) before?

GUSTAVO BRITOS ZUNÍN: No, never. Neither, for any other saxophone. Some time ago, I read a post from you talking about the lack of classical repertoire of the instrument and it made me think about it. I let my imagination flow and that is how this SONATE FOR BARITONE SAXOPHONE AND PIANO came about. Later, I wrote a second work, an IMPROMPTU, for the same instrument solo, not has been edited yet.

JMF: Which aspect(s) of the instrument appealed the more for composing this work?

GBZ: Baritone saxophone sounds like a human voice: it is able to whisper or shout, sing a lament or acquire a burlesque tone full of irony with a such a stunning naturalness as perhaps no other instrument could do. Furthermore, each register also has its own lyric possibilities. Of course, at the same time you are discovering the baritone saxophone, the composition is naturally oriented to write “for the instrument” because you feel that the instrument “tells you something”.

JMF: How does the baritone saxophone interact with the piano?

GBZ: Baritone saxophone interacts a lot with the piano. The piano does not only work as a harmonic support, but also integrates the thematic dialogue. Any combination of instruments depends on the character of the melody. On the other hand, the strong timbre of the baritone saxophone in the low register lends many interesting combinations with the piano, as well as the diversity of articulations in all of its registers.

JMF: Why did you compose this work?

GBZ: I wanted to enlarge the classical repertoire for baritone saxophone.

JMF: Did you want to produce anything special in the audience when listening to your work?

GBZ: This question is a bit difficult to answer. In general, I give a specific “personality” to each theme of a work and let them dialogue, sometimes by agreeing or oppositing. For instance, in the reexposition of the SONATE FOR BARITONE SAXOPHONE AND PIANO, the second theme should be played with the same solemnity of the beginning on the piano, whileas the saxophone contrasts it with a variation of the same subject in a sarcastic way.

JMF: You are a pianist in addition to composer. How do you do to write for an instrument you don’t play?

GBZ: Well, in this work and others I also wrote for other instruments, I first became familiar with the timbre and resources of the instrument as much as possible, then I imagined how the music I had in my mind could sound on this instrument and, finally … I finally asked for a virtuoso of this instrument an opinion on that I did! This was the composition process of this SONATA, as you already well know. Humbly, this work contains some of your contributions that I didn’t even expect.

JMF: What do you think about the role of the baritone saxophone in classical-contemporary music now and in the next future?

GBZ: In my opinion, the future of the instrument in classical music concerts will depend on how we composers will be able to transmit our inspiration to the general audience, not only “for experts” in contemporary music. When composing, if we need to move away from the tonal system because of an artistic feeling (and not because “we are in the XXI century” and have to use extended techniques everywhere) or we feel to write music “in C major” (as Schönberg said he liked to listen to) because of any artistic reasons (and not because “you have to please the audience”), all these options should be within a artistic context, but never to be “in tune with contemporary music”. We could talk a lot about this subject.

I encourage to work on this piece and don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to know more about the SONATE FOR BARITONE SAXOPHONE AND PIANO by Gustavo Britos Zunín.

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