El Reposo del Fuego

John Oliver

El Reposo del Fuego

  • John Oliver
  • Year of composition: 1987, 88
  • Duration: 16:14
  • Instrumentation: keyboard-controlled synthesizers and stereo fixed medium

To Sergio Barroso

I visited Guatemala for six weeks in the summer of 1978. Soon after I arrived the earth shook, painting my face with fear. When Mexico City was devastated in 1985, I remembered the horror, anxiety and awe that I felt when the earth shifted, and I imagined the human, spiritual and material devastation such massive catastrophe leaves in its wake. These were the memories reawakened by Sergio Barroso’s request to create a piece for the 1988 Electroacoustic Music Festival in Mexico City. I began writing in this sensibility of fear, premonition, and arrested time. The music reveals itself as a book of short poems culminating in a violent and virtuosic section, temporally based on the Maya calendar, in which a sense of time-continuity contains violent upheaval. Order and chaos here coexist. The poetry, read by Antonio Urrello, was selected from poems by Pablo Neruda (Punta) and José-Emilio Pacheco’s El Reposo del Fuego (The Resting Place of Fire).


El Reposo del Fuego was composed at the Ireme studio in Vancouver (Canada) and at the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC). It was premiered on January 31, 1988 by Sergio Barroso at the Tamayo Museum in Mexico City. El Reposo del Fuego was awarded the First Prize for electronic music and the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) Grand Prize for best overall composition at the 8th CBC National Competition for Young Composers (Ottawa, 1988).


  • January 31, 1988, Sergio Barroso, keyboard • En Torno a los Sonidos Electrónicos, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (Mexico)