The committed pianist and former Argentinian ambassador Miguel Angel Estrella, tortured under the Uruguayan military regime between 1977 and 1980, died in France at the age of 81, the Argentinian delegation to UNESCO announced on Thursday.
"The Argentine Delegation to Unesco is sad to announce the death of Miguel Angel Estrella, Argentine Ambassador to Unesco and Goodwill Ambassador to Unesco, pianist and founder of the NGO Musique Espérance"
, wrote the delegation on Twitter.
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A refugee in Uruguay after fleeing the Argentine dictatorship in power since 1976, Miguel Angel Estrella was not spared by the Uruguayan authoritarian power which tortured and detained him for more than two years, suspecting him of subversive activities.
"They concentrated mainly on my hands (...), pretending in particular to want to amputate me"
, said the Argentinian pianist, released under international pressure in February 1980. In order not to lose hope under torture, Estrella
"speaks to Jesus»
and to keep a certain agility, he plays on an imaginary piano, in his cell.
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Welcomed in Paris, he works to become the virtuoso he once was.
The artist created the NGO Musique Espérance to open musical workshops in slums and prisons.
He also plays in schools, factories, retirement homes.
, he said, asserting that in Latin America
“there is not a single young person from the slums trained in music who has fallen into drugs”
musician and poet
Born on July 4, 1940 in Tucuman (northern Argentina), from a poet father son of Lebanese peasants who emigrated to Bolivia and an Argentine teacher mother of mixed Amerindian descent, Estrella is marked by the underprivileged.
He discovered a passion for the piano at the age of 12 and at the age of 18 joined the Conservatory in Buenos Aires.
On a scholarship, he stayed in London and Paris.
For Nadia Boulanger, who had him as a pupil, Estrella was a
“also and first of all a poet”
His eclectic repertoire made him mix Rameau, Messiaen and Latin American folklore.
Yupanqui and Piazzola rubbed shoulders with Bach and Beethoven in the same concert.
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With Jean Lacouture, he wrote
Musique pour l'Espérance
(1983, Cana editions) and, in 2000, the High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) awarded him the Nansen medal for having
"advanced the cause of refugees"
After having been Argentina's ambassador to Unesco, Miguel Angel Estrella took over as head of the Argentine House at the Cité Universitaire in Paris.