Julián Aguirre Conservatory of Music, founded by Ginastera in 1951
Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires to a Catalan father and an Italian mother. During his later years, he preferred to use the Catalan and Italian pronunciation of his surname – IPA: [dʒinasˈteɾa], with an initial soft 'G' like that of English 'George' – rather than with a Spanish 'J' sound (IPA: [xinasˈteɾa]).
Ginastera studied at the Williams Conservatory in Buenos Aires, graduating in 1938. As a young professor, he taught at the Liceo Militar General San Martín. After a visit to the United States in 1945–47, where he studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood, he returned to Buenos Aires and co-founded the League of Composers. He held a number of teaching posts. Among his notable students were Ástor Piazzolla (who studied with him in 1941), Alcides Lanza, Waldo de los Ríos, Jacqueline Nova and
Rafael Aponte-Ledée. See: List of music students by teacher: G to J#Alberto Ginastera.
In 1968 Ginastera moved back to the United States, and in 1970 to Europe. He died in Geneva, Switzerland, at the age of 67 and was buried in the Cimetière des Rois there.