Being the nephew of Mexican composer Raúl Lavista, Profesor Mario Lavista was born with composition in his blood. His compositions cover a variety of genres including chamber music, along with compositions for theater, film, television, several orchestral works, and vocal music. In addition to composing, he is also an accomplished author.
Lavista was born in Mexico City in 1943. He began studying piano when he was a child. When he tried to enter the National Conservatory of Music, he was rejected because its director thought his hands were too small. Not long after this rejection, he met Carlos Chávez, who took him on as a student. From Chávez, Lavista learned much more than piano. The artist also gave him basic lessons in harmony, counterpoint and analysis. He also became a part of Chávez' music workship, which was a part of the National Conservatory. After completing his studies in composition, he received a scholarship from the French government to study in Paris.
After returning to Mexico, Lavista ventured away from traditional classical music for a short while. Lavista, Nicolás Echevarría, Fernando Baena, and Juan Herrejón founded an improvisation group called Quanta. The group was interested in the spontaneous creation and performance of music. At the same time Lavista was also fascinated by electronic music and worked at the newly opened electronic music studios at the National Conservatory in 1970 and NHK in Tokyo from 1970 to 1973.
In 1979, he turned his eye to more traditional instruments and began collaborating with performers Marielena Arizpe (flutist), Bertram Turetzky (bassist), Leonora Saavedra (oboist) and El Cuarteto Latinoamericano (strings), in the compositions Triptico, Dusk, Marsias and Reflejos de la Noche.
Talented in both composition and journalism, Lavista has founded two music journals. He started Talea in 1975 at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 1975. Less than ten years later he started Pauta, one of the most important music journals in Latin America.
Lavista's numerous awards include: the Silver Goddess Award from the Association of Journalists and Film Critics in 1978 for best film music, a Guggenheim Fellowship for his opera Aura, and the National Award for Arts and Sciences from the Mexican government in 1991. He has also received a Mozart Medal from the Embassy of Austria.
In addition to composing and writing, Professor Lavista is an accomplished professor who has influenced budding musicians and composers in the United States and Mexico. He has taught at the Conservatorio Nacional in Mexico City, the University of Chicago, Cornell University, the University of California San Diego, Indiana University, and McGill University. Mario Lavista is undoubtedly one of Mexico's modern, masters of music, who's influence in classical music will continue for decades .