Sergio Cervetti is a Uruguayan-born American composer. He was born in Dolores on November 9, 1940 to an Italian father who played the clarinet and to a French mother who encouraged piano lessons at an early age. During his teens he played piano and saxophone in a tango-jazz band while earning diplomas in French and piano. He taught French at the Alliance Française and by then had composed his first work, a song for soprano and piano based on poetry by Arthur Rimbaud.
After moving to Montevideo in 1959, he studied piano with Hugo Balzo and José María Martino Rodas, and harmony and counterpoint with Carlos Estrada and Guido Santorsola at the National Conservatory. Encouraged and aided by the Uruguayan diplomat and music critic Washington Roldán, and his brother Horacio Roldán, Cervetti emigrated to Washington, D.C. in 1962, and was sworn a United States citizen in Brooklyn, New York in 1979.
Cervetti graduated from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore in 1967 after studying composition with Ernst Krenek and Stefan Grové, conducting with Laszlo Halasz, and having received scholarships from both Peabody and the Organization of American States. While still a student, he won the III Caracas Venezuela Festival chamber music prize in 1966 for Five Episodes for piano, violin and cello which was also favorably reviewed in Melos by the respected German music critic H. H. Stuckenschmidt as "A host of original ideas, an exemplary piece of music."
Following graduation from Peabody, during a time that witnessed national civil unrest, Zinctum (1967) fortunately saw its premiere on June 24, 1968 given by the Beaux-Arts String Quartet. Immediately after this work's performance that summer evening during the first part of a program at the Library of Congress' Coolidge Auditorium, the remaining works were cut short and the concert was hastily cancelled due to nearby riots in the nation's capital.