Monday, October 26, 2009

Jorge Alvaro Sarmientos (1931-2012)

was a composer and conductor. He obtained his musical education at the National Conservatory in Guatemala with Ricardo Castillo. He was awarded fellowships to study in Paris as well as Buenos Aires. He took conducting classes with Boulez (1969) and Celibidache(1972). From 1972- 1991 he was the musical director for Guatemalan Symphony Orchestra, and has had numerous appearances as a guest conductor in many countries including Latin America, France, the US, Israel, and Japan. He often included his own compositions during these appearances. He taught at the Guatemalan National Conservatory from 1967-1991, Rafael Landivar University from 1968-1980, and Francisco Marroquin University from 1982-1986. His works include: La muerte de un personaje, Hommage, and Ofrenda y gratitude.

Enrique Solares (1910-1995)

was a composer who studied piano and composition in Guatemala. He did go to San Francisco where he was a student of Ernst Bacon. He also studied abroad in Brussels, Prague, and Rome. He was also a Guatemalan diplomat serving time in Brussels, Paris, Madrid, as well as other cities. Many of his musical works received awards, but many were not published. Some of his famous works include: (1943) Te Deum for chorus and organ, (1947) Partita for string orchestra, (1955) Estudio en forma de marcha and Cuatro ofrendas for piano, and (1955) Sonata for solo violin.

Salvador Ley (1907-1985)

was a pianist and composer. He studied piano and theory in Guatemala before going to Berlin for seven years to study piano from George Bertram, and studied theory and composition with Wilhelm Klatte and Hugo Leichtentritt. He returned to Guatemala in 1934 where he served as director of the National Conservatory until 1937, and also served as director from 1944-1953. He then immigrated to the United States where he stayed until 1978. During this time he was a coach, teacher, organist, and promoted Latin-American music. In 1978 when he returned to Guatemala he was awarded a pension in recognition of his musical contributions to the country. He continued to work as a teacher at the National Conservatory and soloist. He did return for concert tours in the US in Florida and New York in 1979 and 1980. His musical compositions were influenced by his time in Germany as well as Guatemalan influences.

Jose Castaneda (1898-1983)

was a theorist, composer, and Guatemalan composer. He spent time studying in Paris and in 1930 founded an orchestra called the Ars Nova in Guatemala City. In 1936 the dictator Jorge Ubico made it the official state orchestra and it was then renamed Orquesta Progresista. He left the orchestra and moved to Europe when it became part of the military. He subsequently returned and became director of the National Conservatory where he also taught. One of his compositions La chalena (1922) is still sung at the university. He published a book on musical theory called Las polaridades del ritmo y del sonido in 1967 which had a notation system for music and choreography. His opera Imagenes de nacimiento, and his ballet La serpiente emplumada were both very successful. He also composed three symphonies and two string quartets.

Ricardo Castillo (1891-1966)

was the brother of Jesus and a Guatemalan composer. He studied in Paris the violin and composition and it was in Paris his works were first published. From 1922-1960 he taught at the National Conservatory in Guatemala City music history, composition, harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration. His work also was motivated by Guatemalan folk music, and Mayan history. His composition included approximately twenty four piano pieces as well as composition for two ballets, Estelas de Tikal and Paal Kaba. He also composed ten orchestra works which had a rich Guatemalan theme.

Jesus Castillo (1877-1946)

was a composer as well as studied the ethnic music of the people of Guatemala. He had particular interest in folk music. He studied piano and composition in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala with Miguel Espinoza and Rafael Guzman respectively. He taught music in Quetzaltenango for thirty years, and collected folk music from different areas of Guatemala during that time. His research on folk music of the region and the natives was published in a book he wrote called La Musica Maya-quiche: Region de Guatemala in 1941. His works were an important part of the marimba (Xylophone) bands of the region, and this has continued into the 2oth century.

Rafael Antonio Castellanos (?-1791)

served as an assistant to his uncle and later was maestro of the cathedral as noted above. He utilized the works of other Italian and Spanish composers to sustain the musical level of the cathedral. He composed a number of religious works in Latin, as well as greater than 170 pieces mainly villancicos (religious songs) done for a particular event. These pieces involved song of one to eight voices and included string instruments as well as woodwind and brass instruments. They are full of harmonies and melodies which include Spanish and Italian features. Many center on religious events such as Christmas, some have a military tone others have a comic one. His work only exists in the Archives of Francisco de Paula Garcia Pelaez in Guatemala City.

Manuel Jose de Quiros (?-1765)

He was a teacher, composer, and collector of music. He served as maestro of the Guatemala City Cathedral beginning in 1738 until his death in 1765. He composed 28 works which are primarily Spanish music with a poetic form. His works can be found only in the archives of the Francisco de Paula Garcia Pelaez, in Guatemala City. Several of his compositions are in Latin, such as Parce mihi Domine. All of his works have instruments which accompany it. One of his students included his nephew, Rafael Antonio Castellanos who became maestro of the cathedral after his death. He had interests in Italian music, as well as Spanish and collected a number of works of Italian and Spanish composers of his time period such as Galuppi (Italian) and Sebastian Duron (Spanish) .

Jesus Castillo (1877-1946)

used musical themes in his compositions as well as Indian participants. His brother Ricardo Castillo (1891-1966) was also a Guatemalan composer who had spent time in Paris to study the violin and compose.

Luis Felipe Arias (1870-1908)

was one of the first Guatemalan composers to have a folk theme to his music; most of his work was composed for the piano which was his musical instrument.


Guatemala is located in Central America. Its capital is Guatemala City. It is bordered to the north and west by Mexico, by the north east by Belize, and by the south east by El Salvador and Honduras. Guatemalan music is comprised of two major cultures: creoles of Spanish language and heritage, and Mayan which includes more than fifty percent of the population.

Julian Carrillo (1875-1965)

Carillo showed versatility in his musical endeavors being a composers, theorist, conductor, violinist, inventor and a teacher. He was a student of Morales. In 1895 he was experimenting with string division and developed a 'new sound' on the violin and called it el sonido trece (the 13th sound).
He served many years at the National Conservatory but had to leave for New York until the presidency of Obregón. He soon resigned from his public duties and focused more on his theories. He did extensive work with 1/16-tones and created a new notational system. IN 1930 his orchestra was capable of playing exclusively in microtones.

Juventino Rosas (1868-1894)

A very well known violinist and composer of Otomí Indian birth. His father was a harpist and his brothers were guitarists and singers. Shortly before he died in 1894, Rosas composed a set of five waltzes entitled Sobre las olas. This piece is very commonly known in today's repertoire.

Tomas León (1826-1893)

Born in Mexico City, Leon studied music at a very young age and accomplished much by the age of 20. He was the organist of La Profesa in Mexico City at the age of 14. In 1854 he was asked t select the Mexican national anthem.
León was “the best pianist and teacher in Mexico City”. He founded the Sociedad Filarmónica Méxicana. Soon after the Conservatorio Nacional de Música was established. León's dedication to this was apparent as he taught without pay for about 6 years.
Melesio Morales: (1838-1908)
A student of Agustín Caballero, Morales was a well known Mexican composer. He began his first opera at the age of 18. After his second opera Ildegonda in 1865, he moved to Europe.
After 3 years he returned home and began working at the Mexico City Conservatory. He taught famous composers such as Ricardo Castro and Julian Carrillo. Morales was the first conductor to perform Beethoven's symphonies in Mexico. He also dabbled in interpretive orchestration with his piece La locomotiva.-----

Matheo Tollis de la Roca (1710-1780)

Tollis de la Roca was a harpsichordist and composer of Italian birth. He was mainly active in Mexico. After his wife died in 1757, he was appointed assistant maestro de capilla and deputy organist. He received a salary of 500 pesos. Another name that was given to him was 'master of polyphony'. Though many members of the chapel tried to kick him out, he was named chief organist after the death of Juan de Velasco in 1761.
In 1778 he was close to being dismissed for his decreased quality in compositions. He was to be replaced by Cayetano Echevarría. It was suspected that Tollis plagiarized parts of his compositions for female royalty.

Ignacio Jerusalem (1707-1769)

Ignacio Jerusalem was a Mexican composer and violinist of Italian birth. He was born in Lecce and lived with his father, Matteo Martino Gerusalemme, a violinist at the Jesuit church. Ignacio left for Mexico City in 1742 to be recruited for the Antiguo Coliseo. Amongst his colleagues, Jerusalem became director of the Coliseo.
Soon after his appointment of maestro, Jerusalem's health had started to deplete. When he resigned from the Coliseo, he had to deal with much controversy. He faced charges of embezzlement due to unpaid bills. He told the Coliseo that the debt was made by his wife and asked the Coliseo to not stop his income. Jerusalem later had a disagreement with the appointment of Tollis de la Roca. It appeared as though because de la Roca was second-class, Jerusalem had objected his poisiton in the hierarchy.

Manuel de Zumaya(Sumaya) (1678-1755)

Manuel de Zumaya, a composer and organist, was considered a prodigy in Mexico City. The Mexico City Cathedral took care of Manuel after his father's death. He studied organ with José de Ydiáquez, and composition with Antonio de Salazar.
Zumaya wrote a play for the birth of Prince Luis in 1707 entitled Rodrigo. After it was staged, he became maestro de capilla. The Duke of Linares hired Zumaya to translate Italian librettos into Spanish. What stands out about Zumaya is the release of the opera Partenope. It was “the first opera anywhere in the Western hemisphere by an American-born composer”.
Zumaya was a very important composer of the 18th century. In his Latin motets, he wrote free imitative counterpoint. He often used augmented and diminished chords, as well as secondary dominants which often set him apart from other composers of the time.

Juan Mathias (1618-1667)

Born in Zaapache, now known as San Bártolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, Mathias was the first Zapotec musician to acquire the position of maestro de capilla. He was a singer and organist who proved skill in many other instruments such as the clavichord, lute, viola, and flute. He was under the instruction of maestro Juan de Ribera who died in 1655.
Mathias held the position of maestro until his death in 1667. His music was very popular to the indigenous world and his piece Stabat mater is still performed on Good Friday in Oaxaca.

Francisco Lopez Capillas (1605-8 to 1674)

López, the son of Bartolomé López and María de la Trindad, was admitted to the choir of Mexico City Cathedral around 1625. He attended the University of Mexico and graduated in theology. He was the assistant organist of Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla. Within four days of Ximeno's death, López was appointed organist as well maestro de capilla. It was from then on that he changed his name to López Capillas (López of the Chapels).
At the time of his death, it was noted that López was earning 1000 pesos. That was one of the largest salaries received by a Mexican church musician during the time. His works were all written according to the prima practica.

Fabian Perez Ximeno (1595-1654)

Ximeno, born in Mexico City, served as first organist at Mexico City Cathedral at the age of 47. Six years later he was made maestro de capilla following the death of Luis Coronado. While holding this position, he accepted Coronado's nephew Juan as his assistant. Ximeno was interested in polychoral works. He wrote numerous masses, three Magnificat settings, two Lenten motets, a Dixit Dominus, and a 5-part Christmas carol. Ximeno died in Mexico City, where he was born, in 1654. His successor was Francisco López Capillas.

Juan Navarro (1530-1580)

Juan Navarro, a spanish composer and singer, spent most of his music career as a cathedral singer. He was a tenor in the choir of the Duke of Arcos at Marchena at the age of 19. He won the title of maestro de capilla (musician in charge of the chapel) for the Salamanca Cathedral in 1566. Scandal surrounded Navarro when he violently struck Juan Sánchez, the cathedral's drunkard organist, and was dismissed immediately.
Navarro stood out in history amongst many composers of the Spanish Renaissance. His four-part polyphonic textures in vesper music were described as pleasing and sweet.

Rolando Villazon (1972-present)

Mexican tenor. Mexican tenor. At the age of eleven he joined the Espacios Academy for the Performing Arts, where he studied music, acting, contemporary dance and ballet. In 1990 he began to study singing with the baritone Arturo Nieto and in 1992 entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, Mexico City, to continue his vocal studies with Enrique Jaso. After winning national competitions in Mexico City and Guanajuato, Villazón became a pupil of Gabriel Mijares. For a time he had considered going into the priesthood. But in 1998, he joined the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program, where he took part in masterclasses with Joan Sutherland and sang his first major role, Alfredo in La traviata. He subsequently became a member of the Pittsburgh Opera’s Young Artists Program.
Villazón’s European début, as Des Grieux (Manon) in Genoa in 1999, launched his international career. He has been equally acclaimed in Italian roles such as Alfredo, Nemorino, the Duke in Rigoletto and Don Carlos (which he sang for his Nederlandse Opera début in 2004) and Rodolfo (the role of his 2003 Glyndebourne début), and in nineteenth-century French roles, including Roméo, Faust (which he first sang at the Opéra Bastille in 2003) and Don José. His triumphant débuts at Covent Garden (as a charismatic, athletic Hoffmann) and the Metropolitan Opera (as Alfredo), both in 2004, prompted some critics to hail him as ‘the next Domingo’; and though less powerful, his voice has something of the Spaniard’s baritonal depth and fine balance of honey and metal, allied to free, ringing top notes. Villazón is also a discerning musician, with a care for refined dynamic shading and shapely legato phrasing, as can be heard on his widely praised recordings of French and Italian arias.

Gabriela Ortiz (1964-present)

Mexican composer. She graduated in composition (1990) from the Escuela Nacional de Música, where she studied under Ibarra; she also took classes there in analysis and composition with Lavista (1985–90). She went on to study in England with Saxton, as well as attending courses at London Contemporary Dance Theatre (1992), Dartington International Summer School (1992) and Darmstadt (1994). Her works have been performed widely and commissions include Altar de muertos (1996) for the Kronos Quartet.
Ortiz’s music, for the most part conventionally notated, combines a free use of tonality with references to traditional and popular styles, rock, African and Afro-Caribbean music. These are particularly evident in the rich rhythmic nature of works such as Altar de neón and Concierto candela for percussion and orchestra. Her experimental electro-acoustic pieces have led to a more complex manipulation of sounds.

Link to music:

Mariana Villanueva (1964-present)

Mexican composer. She began studying music in Mexico with Lavista (1982–4) and in the composition workshop of the National Music Research, Documentation and Information Centre, where she had classes with Daniel Catán, Julio Estrada and Federico Ibarra. Later, she studied at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with Lukas Foss, Leonardo Balada and Robert Page. There she won the first prizes for composition (1989) and orchestral composition (1985). She has also had scholarships from the Rockefeller Foundation (1995) and from the Mexican government (1993, 1996).
Her output, still quite small, represents a synthesis of various elements which converge to form a style both eclectic and personal. Starting from a careful use of intervallic developments and of complex rhythmic configurations which link her to Mexican composers such as Revueltas, Villanueva's works tend, in her own words, to reflect ‘that gigantic force, magnificent and supreme, which nourishes all living creatures’, an image which has inspired works such as Anabacoa, Ritual, Prometeo and Anamnésis, and which situates Villanueva alongside other Mexican composers wishing to convey in their music the existential dilemmas of the fin de siècle.

Ramon Vargas (1960-present)

Mexican tenor. After studying at the Mexico City Conservatory and then in Vienna, he was engaged at the opera houses in Lucerne (1988–90) and Zürich, his roles including Edgardo, Elvino (La sonnambula) and Werther. In 1991 he began to appear regularly in Italy, mostly in Mozart and Rossini, gaining a reputation for his light, flexible and sweet-toned singing, a reputation confirmed when he sang a charming Almaviva in a much lauded recording of Il barbiere di Siviglia in 1992. He made a successful début at La Scala in 1993 as Fenton, in a performance of Falstaff under Riccardo Muti that was committed to disc. At the same time Vargas appeared regularly at his home house in Mexico City and at the nearby Houston Opera (where he sang his first Hoffmann). His roles at Covent Garden include the Duke of Mantua, Alfredo, and Rudolfo, and at the Metropolitan a much admired Edgardo (the role of his début in 1992), the Duke of Mantua, Alfredo and Ramiro (in a new production of La Cenerentola, 1997). He took the role of Don Narciso in Chailly's award-winning recording (with Bartoli) of Il turco in Italia (1997), adding a highly accomplished Werther to his discography in 1999. In 2000 he was admired for the elegance and touching pathos of his singing as Gustavus III (Un Ballo in maschera) in San Francisco. By then Vargas's light, lyric voice had taken on stronger tones without losing quality or flexibility. He has been aptly compared to his mentor, Alfredo Kraus.


Javier Alvarez (1956-present)

Mexican composer. He studied the clarinet and composition in Mexico City before attending the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (MM 1982); in 1981 he moved to London, where he studied at the RCM and at City University (PhD 1993). He was a founding member and chair of the Sonic Arts Network, and artistic director of the SPNM (1995–6). From 1993 to 1997 he was lecturer and then reader at the University of Hertfordshire, and in 1997 was appointed professor of composition at the Malmö Conservatory. He has won numerous prizes for both his electro-acoustic and instrumental works, including the Prix Euphonie d’Or at Bourges (1992). Leading ensembles such as the Mexico PO, L’Itinéraire (Paris), the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group and Chicago Symphony New Music Ensemble have performed his works. His music combines the energy and rhythmic vitality of his Latin-American roots with elements of the European symphonic tradition. Characteristically, his harmonic language is consonant without being tonal. A large number of his works composed after 1982 (e.g. Papalotl, Asi el acero and Mannam) skilfully combine solo instruments with electro-acoustic sounds derived from the instrument’s timbre.

Marcela Rodriguez (1951-present)

Mexican composer. She began her musical career as a guitarist, studying with Miguel López-Famos and later with Abel Carlevaro (1975). She also took composition courses, notably with Brouwer (1975), Lavista and Lozano (1975–8). Rodríguez’s style is characterized by the constant use of chromatic textures, by a meticulous melodic design and by a handling of patterns that approaches minimalism. Her opera La sunamita – the culmination of previous theatre music – is vital and dramatic, driven by the strength of the musical characterization of the main protagonists; the plot tells of an old landowner and his young niece, whom he obliges to marry him with the false promise of leaving her his fortune and of preserving her honour. Drama as a source of inspiration has continued in such works as Arias to texts by Alarcón and Juana I. de la Cruz.

Jorge Osorio (1951-present)

Mexican pianist. He trained at the conservatory in Mexico City and the Paris Conservatoire, and later at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, making his official début in 1964 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. The winner of numerous international awards, he has made admired recordings of music by Beethoven, Brahms, Ponce, Prokofiev, Ravel and Tchaikovsky. He has also proved to be a sensitive interpreter of Debussy and Schubert. His playing combines a beautiful, rounded tone with an impressive grasp of large-scale structure, and while he commands a virtuoso technique he has never been a flamboyant player. Osorio’s interpretations are notable for a classical sense of proportion and an eloquence which always puts the composer first. Two works by the Mexican composer Carlos Jiménez Mabarak have been dedicated to him, and in 1969 he gave the first ever performances in Mexico and Guatemala of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C, k503. He is also an accomplished chamber musician whose partners have included Henryk Szeryng, Mayumi Fujikawa, Richard Markson, the mezzo-soprano Conchita Antuñano, and the Tel-Aviv and Moscow string quartets.

Francisco Araiza (1950-present)

Mexican tenor. He began singing with a university choir, and became a pupil of the Mexican soprano Irma Gonzalez at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música. His début as the First Prisoner in Fidelio (1970) was followed in 1973 by appearances as Des Grieux (Massenet) and Rodolfo. He went to Europe in 1974 and studied in Munich with Richard Holm and Erik Werba; he then took a two-year contract at Karlsruhe, where he made his European début as Ferrando in 1975 and sang other lyric roles in Mozart and Italian operas. He sang the Steersman in Der fliegende Holländer at Bayreuth (1978), and appeared at the Vienna Staatsoper as Tamino, a role he recorded with Karajan. His British début was as Ernesto (Don Pasquale) at Covent Garden in 1983; his American début the next year was at San Francisco in La Cenerentola, and he appeared as Belmonte at the Metropolitan Opera later the same year. He sang Gounod’s Romeo at Zürich, Lohengrin in Venice (1990) and Titus at Salzburg (1991). A lyric tenor whose voice has developed with experience (though heavier roles have at times taken their toll), he now takes leading Verdi and Puccini roles and also sings Werther, Faust, Hoffmann, Lohengrin and Walther von Stolzing. He has made notable recordings of Faust (1987), Catalani’s La Wally (1990), Spontini’s La vestale (1991), Verdi’s Alzira and Mozart and Rossini operas.

Daniel Catan (1949-present)

Mexican composer. He graduated in philosophy at the University of Sussex (1970) and obtained the PhD in music composition and theory from Princeton University (1977), where his teachers included Babbitt, James Randall and Boretz. He also studied the Japanese traditional arts with particular focus on the combination of music and drama. He was composer-in-residence with the WNO (1986–7) and received the Placido Domingo Award for his outstanding contribution to opera in Spanish.
Catán’s output comprises mainly symphonic music, orchestral songs and operas. His work with intervallic collections creates clear tonal centres and harmonies with a structural function. His angular but eminently singable melodies meld with lush, romantic harmonies supported by a fastidiously transparent orchestration which never obscures the human voice. His most recent operas, Florencia en el Amazonas (1996) and Las bodas de Salsipuedes (1998–9), incorporate Latin American percussion instruments and rhythmic patterns derived from Afro-Caribbean popular music. La hija de Rappaccini, based on a play by Octavio Paz, and Florencia en el Amazonas (the first opera in Spanish commissioned by a major opera company in the United States), which incorporates Gabriel García Marquez’s magic realism, have marked the infusion of Latin American culture into traditional opera.

Federico Ibarra (1946-present)

Mexican composer. He began his career as a pianist and later studied at the Escuela Nacional de Música, graduating in composition in 1978. He also took classes with Marie (1968), Stockhausen (1971), Schaeffer (1971) and Halffter (1975). As a pianist, Ibarra has given the Mexican premières of a number of works (Cage, Cowell, De Castro, Crumb). His own music has been performed internationally, as well as in Mexico, where his prizes include the Medalla Mozart (1991). He has also worked as a choir conductor and repetiteur.
Ibarra’s sizeable output is characterized by the use of powerful, dramatic contrasts within carefully balanced forms. Many of his earlier works (notably the Cinco estudios premonitorios and the Cinco manuscritos pnakótikos) incorporate highly varied textures, colours and contemporary effects, including clusters, microintervals, and percussive taps on non-percussion instruments. His Concerto for prepared piano and orchestra (1970, rev. 1980) – in which the soloist unfolds a series of non-melodic textures juxtaposed with dense, sonorous masses in the orchestra – is typical. A number of compositions – the piano sonatas, symphonies and the Cello Concerto – do retain the principal thematic and developmental elements of Classical form; but traditional schemata are supplanted by diverse, dramatic structures. Ibarra has written more operas than any other 20th-century Mexican composer. In these operas, the musical language employed reflects the libretto; in Leoncio y Lena the music closely follows the tragicomic narration of the characters, while in Orestes parte the discourse becomes so dense that the character of Clitemnestra is shared between four sopranos.

Graciela Agudelo (1945-present)

Mexican pianist and composer. She studied the piano at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and composition in the workshop of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música under héctor Quintanar and mario Lavista. Her extensive output reveals a diversity of techniques and styles without formal adherence to compositional schools or avant-garde trends, but with an emphasis on the search for expressive freedom. Avant-garde techniques, however, are sometimes used to enhance the colour and integrity of her music, as in Navegantes del crepúsculo (‘Voyagers of the Twilight’, 1993), a trio in four movements for clarinet, bassoon and piano, which she describes as ‘a fantasy of abstract lyricism’. In Arabesco for solo recorder, the music explores the technical potential of the instrument and the performer, including the simultaneous use of two recorders, the contrapuntal exposition of the theme through multiphonics and nimble alternation between voice and instrument.

Julio Estrada (1943-present)

Mexican composer and theorist of Spanish descent. He studied composition in Mexico with Orbón and in Paris (1965–9) with Messiaen, Boulanger and Xenakis, additionally taking courses given by Stockhausen in Cologne (1968–9) and Ligeti in Darmstadt (1972). He later studied computer music at Stanford University (1981) and in Paris (1980–83), as well as Amerindian music in New Mexico (1987). He gained the doctorate from the University of Strasbourg with his dissertation Théorie de la composition: discontinuum-continuum (1994).
In 1971 Estrada was appointed to teach composition at the Music School of the University of Mexico (UNAM). In 1976 he became active as a researcher at UNAM, where from 1990 he directed the research project ‘MúSIIC’ (Computer Interactive System for Research and Composition). In addition he has been a guest lecturer at several universities and a composer-in-residence in Darmstadt, Stanford and elsewhere. These activities have given rise to several essays and theoretical works (among them Música y teoría de grupos finitos, 1984), and the encyclopedia La música de México (1984–8), of which he is the editor.
After an initial phase in the tradition of Webern and Stockhausen, Estrada's style of composition developed throughout the 1970s from the ‘controlled uncertainty’ of Memorias (1971) to the integration of his own theories, notably that of the ‘discontinuum’ (a new theory of interval classes for scales of any subdivision). With works such as eua’on (1980) he explored his theory of the ‘continuum’, utilizing unstructured tonal and temporal areas and material in transition (e.g. glissandos). With eolo-oolin (1981–3) he began working with what he calls ‘macro-timbre’; a synthesis of pitch, amplitude and harmonic content in a continuum of rhythm and sound. In yuunohui'tlapoa (1998–9) he combines his continuum and discontinuum theories. The opera Pedro Páramo (begun in 1992) is based on the composer's analysis of the tonal elements in the literature of Juan Rulfo (explained in El sonido en Rulfo, 1990), creating a world of expression that shifts unexpectedly between the concrete and the unreal, a musical pendant to Rulfo's ‘magic realism’.

Mario Lavista (1943-present)

Mexican composer. Mexican composer. He began his formal studies in 1963 with Chávez (composition) and Halffter (analysis) at the National Conservatory. In 1967 he went to Paris, where he studied composition with Marie and also attended courses given by Xenakis and Pousseur. The following year he was a pupil of Stockhausen in Cologne and took part in the Darmstadt summer courses. He returned to Mexico in 1969 to teach composition at the National Conservatory and founded the group Quanta which specialized in improvisation. In 1972 he was invited to work at the electronic music laboratory of Japanese radio and television (NHK) in Tokyo, where his compositions included Contrapunto. He founded the journal Pauta – one of the most important music publications in Spanish – in 1982, and in 1987 he was appointed a member of the Academy of Arts in Mexico. Outside Mexico he has lectured, and been performed, widely, particularly in the USA, where Lacrymosa was given its première by the American Composers Orchestra in 1994. As a teacher of composition and analysis he has had a strong influence on recent generations of Mexican musicians.
Lavista’s early works explore contemporary techniques, for example in Cluster or Kronos (for 15 alarm clocks). As his music has evolved, he has assimilated an eclectic range of influences to form an unmistakable style. Like Berio, he has explored new timbres from traditional instrument sources particularly in the use of wind multiphonics. In the dimensions of time and pitch space, Cage’s strong influence has resulted in markedly static sonorities. The gradual transformation of such sonorous textures across a work’s span is characteristic. Formal aspects of the music often derive too from literary sources – particularly epigrams, such as that inspired by Gulliver, which heads Lyhannh; and pictorial images, as in Jaula for prepared piano, a work triggered by ‘musical’ pictures by Arnaldo Cohen and Rufino Tamayo, whose Las músicas dormidas portrays two reclining figures whom Lavista has imagined dreaming his own music.

Eduardo Mata (1942-1995)

Mexican composer and conductor. Mexican conductor and composer. He studied with Carlos Chávez, Rodolfo Halffter, Orbón and Moncayo at the National Conservatory. After some youthful compositions (Trío a Vaughan Williams, Cantata fúnebre), he produced several pieces based on Classical and Romantic models as part of his training with Chávez (Sinfonía clásica, Sinfonía romántica, songs). Mature compositions include a 12-note piano sonata, the three Improvisaciones, the Cello Sonata and the Symphony no.3, all written in an atonal, partly aleatory style that made use of extended instrumental techniques. From 1965 he directed the music department of the University of Mexico (whose orchestra he founded and conducted, 1966–7); he also conducted the Guadalajara SO (1965–6), the Phoenix SO, Arizona (1975–8), and the Dallas SO (1977–93) and was guest conductor for numerous orchestras throughout the world. He made over 70 recordings with the Dallas SO, the LSO, the New Philharmonia Orchestra, the Solistas de México and Venezuela's Orquesta Sinfónica ‘Simón Bolívar’, winning two Grammy nominations. As a conductor he focussed on 20th-century music from Russia, France, Spain, Latin America and the USA, and, after 1982, also on opera and early music. His conducting was praised for its transparency, clarity and precision. In 1974 he received the Elias Sourasky Prize from the Mexican government and in 1984 became a member of Mexico's Colegio Nacional.

Enrique Batiz (1942-present)

Mexican pianist and conductor. He began piano studies in 1950 with Francisco Agea, and continued from 1960 with György Sandor. Bátiz attended the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, but in 1962 moved to the Juilliard School of Music for piano studies with Adele Marcus, graduating there in 1965. In the same year he was a semi-finalist in the Marguerite Long Piano Competition. He then moved to Poland where from 1967 to 1970 he studied the piano with Zbigniew Drzewiecke and conducting with Stanisław Wisłocki. In 1969 he made his conducting début with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Xalapa in Mexico. Two years later he made his most important contribution to Mexican music, the founding of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico, an ensemble he conducted until 1983, and again from 1990. He also served (1983–9) as music director of the Mexico City PO, and from 1984 has been a principal guest conductor with the RPO in London. In these various capacities Bátiz has made more than 150 recordings, including cycles of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky symphonies. He has also appeared as guest conductor with major orchestras in Europe, the Americas and Asia, and is particularly esteemed for his performances of Latin music in which colour and rhythm predominate.

Placido Domingo (1941-present)

Spanish tenor who moved to Mexico in 1950 and studied the piano. Taken by his family to Mexico in 1950, he studied the piano, conducting (under Igor Markevich) and finally singing. In 1957 he made his début as a baritone in the zarzuela Gigantes y cabezudos. His first important tenor role was Alfredo in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1961, the year he made his American début as Arturo (Lucia di Lammermoor) in Dallas. From 1962 to 1965 he was a member of the Israeli National Opera, singing some 300 performances of ten operas, some of them in Hebrew. In 1965 he made his New York début at the City Opera as Pinkerton and with that company in 1966 sang the title role in the first North American performance of Ginastera’s Don Rodrigo. He first sang at the Metropolitan as Maurizio (Adriana Lecouvreur, 1968), at La Scala as Ernani (1969), and at Covent Garden as Cavaradossi (1971). He made notable appearances as Vasco da Gama (L’Africaine) at San Francisco in 1972, as Arrigo (Les vêpres siciliennes) in Paris and later in New York, and as Otello in Hamburg and Paris in 1975. That year he also sang Verdi’s Don Carlos at Salzburg. In 1976 he appeared as Turiddu and Canio in a double bill in Barcelona – on one occasion singing the Prologue to Pagliacci when the baritone was taken ill; he repeated both roles at Covent Garden later that year. In 1982–3 at the Metropolitan he sang Paolo (Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini), Aeneas (Les Troyens) and Lohengrin; his repertory has also included Hoffmann, Don José, Pollione, Edgardo, Riccardo, Radames, Chénier, Don Alvaro (La forza del destino), Werther, Puccini’s Des Grieux, Rodolfo, Calaf, Siegmund, Parsifal, Samson and several zarzuelas. He created the title role of Moreno Torroba’s El poeta in Madrid in 1980 and Menotti’s Goya in Washington, DC, in 1986.
After a career lasting more than 45 years, Domingo's voice showed little sign of decline. At the age of 60 he was still impressive in such roles as Hermann in The Queen of Spades (which he sang at the Metropolitan in 2001), Idomeneo, Siegmund and Danilo Danilowitsch (Die lustige Witwe). He added the role of Bazajet (Tamerlano) at the Metropolitan in 2008, at the age of 67. Domingo has also conducted operas on several occasions, having made his début in this capacity in La traviata at the New York City Opera in 1973; his Metropolitan conducting début was in La bohème in the 1984–5 season. In 1998 he conducted Aida at the Metropolitan, 24 hours after singing Samson there. He was appointed artistic director of Washington National Opera in 1996 and of Los Angeles Opera in 2000, with whom he is planning a Ring cycle for 2010.
Domingo is widely regarded as the leading lirico spinto tenor of the late 20th century, a consummate musician and an actor of exceptional passion. His singing is always marked by exemplary intelligence and taste. While he has undertaken a wide range of roles, he became particularly identified with Verdi’s Otello, of which he has been a wholehearted, eloquent exponent who suggested the heroic dimension of the character through force of personality. Domingo recorded this role three times (including the Zeffirelli film of 1986), and recorded almost all his other principal roles, several more than once, and appeared on many video recordings of his stage appearances (notably in the title role of the Covent Garden Andrea Chénier. All evince his thorough-going commitment, warm and flexible tone, command of line and fiery declamation. If he has not always been the most subtle of interpreters in terms of vocal colouring and shades of meaning, he has virtually never deviated from the high standards he sets himself in matters of technique and style. In 2000 Domingo was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, the highest accolade for achievement in the arts bestowed in the USA. In 2002 he was made honorary KBE and Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur.

Gilda Cruz-Romero (1940-present)

Mexican soprano. She studied at the Mexico City Conservatory and made her début with the National Opera as Ortlinde (Die Walküre) in 1962. In 1969 she sang in Mefistofele with New York City Opera, and in 1970 made her Metropolitan début as Butterfly followed by continuing engagements as Nedda, Leonora (Il trovatore), Desdemona, Elisabeth de Valois and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, among other roles. She achieved particular success as Tosca and Aida, singing the latter role in her Covent Garden début (1972) and at La Scala (1973). She toured to Moscow with the La Scala company in 1974, and appeared at the Vienna Staatsoper, as Leonora (Forza del destino), and in Australia, South America and the USSR. In 1987 she sang Cherubini’s Medea at Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Matilde in the first American performance of Mascagni’s Silvano at Englewood, New Jersey, in 1989; she also sang in several seasons at the Verona Arena. A dramatic soprano of strongly expressive vocal timbre and stage presence, she developed a career as a concert soloist as well as an opera singer.

Jose Antonio Alcaraz (1939-present)

Mexican composer and conductor. He studied at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música under Armando Montiel, Esperanza Pulido and José Pablo Moncayo. He was also a pupil of Otto Mayer-Serra. At the beginning of his career he dedicated himself to composition, which led him to take courses at the Paris Conservatoire as well as spending time in Darmstadt, Venice and London, where he took instruction from Daniel Lesur, Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna and Pierre Wissmer. Among his most important compositions are works for stage and film, which have earned him several prizes. Nevertheless, his most important work is in the fields of criticism and research, although his valuable contributions in the fields of theatre and opera production must also be remembered. As a critic, Alcaraz has played a fundamental role in making diverse repertories known in Mexico, ranging from ancient to contemporary music. He has insistently disseminated and analysed the Mexican repertory, particularly that of the 20th century. His knowledge, combined with a keen sense of humour and a stance legendary for being radical and uncompromising, has made him into one of the most authoritative and recognized critical voices in Mexico and Latin America. As a musicologist, Alcaraz has occupied himself with the discussion and assessment of the Mexican school of the 20th century. His works on composers such as Carlos Chávez, Rodolfo Halffter and José Pablo Moncayo are fundamental, as are his numerous essays on authors such as Rolón, Carillo, Huízar, Revueltas, Sandi, Galindo Dimas, Enríquez and Estrada. As a music critic, he has written for over 20 years (since 1976) for the weekly journal Proceso, as well as regularly contributing to many other Mexican magazines and newspapers. Alcaraz has also written a number of children’s stories (among them, several dedicated to reconstructing episodes of the childhood of composers such as Schubert, Bruckner and Moncayo). He is a research scholar with the Carlos Chávez National Centre for Musical Research, Documentation and Information (CENIDIM).

Hector Quintanar (1936-present)

Mexican composer and conductor. Mexican composer and conductor. He studied at the Escuela Superior Nocturna de Música (1950–56) and played the horn in the Banda de Música del Estado Mayor for eight years. In 1959 he entered the Mexico City Conservatory, where he studied harmony and analysis with Rodolfo Halffter, counterpoint with Blas Galindo and composition with Jiménez Mabarak; he also studied with Chávez (1960–64) and in 1963 served as Chávez’s assistant in the composition workshop, which from 1965 to 1972 he directed. A state grant enabled him to study electronic music at Columbia University, New York, with Andrés Lewin Richter (1964), and he studied musique concrète with Jean Etienne-Marie in Paris (1967) and Mexico City (1968). He was head of the Secretaría Técnica of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes music department (1965—70), within which he organized major festivals of contemporary music. Founder (1970) and director of the Mexico City Conservatory electronic music studio, he was also sub-director of the Mexico City Opera Orchestra. Other appointments as chief conductor include the National University SO (1975–80), the Michoacán SO (1986–7) and, since 1992, the University of Guanajuato SO, with whom he has recorded for the first time many works by Mexican composers. His conscientious activity as a promoter of new music has included giving concerts in unorthodox locations and, through his group Proa, bringing contemporary music to the church. His works from Aclamaciones (1967) have been concerned with non-linear sequences of contrasting materials, such as tape loops of natural sounds (Ostinato) and improvisatory or aleatory elements (Sideral III). He was the first Mexican to compose an electronic film score, that for Una vez un hombre.

Alicia Urreta (1933-1987)

Mexican pianist and composer. She began six years of piano study with Joaquín Amparán in Mexico City in 1948. In 1952 she entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, studying harmony with Rodolfo Halffter, and other subjects with Hernández Moncada, León Mariscal and Sandor Roth. After graduation she continued studying the piano privately with Alfred Brendel and Alicia de Larrocha, and she studied acoustics and electronic music at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. From 1957, while titular pianist of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional and instructor in acoustics at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, she was the chosen performer in the Mexico City premières of all works including piano by Stockhausen, Cage, Gilbert Amy, Manuel Enríquez and Halffter. Meanwhile she composed many works showing her mastery of the avant-garde techniques emanating from Darmstadt. These works favour aleatory procedures with a Boulez-like notion of control: specific markings indicate the exact durations of particular passages and precise dynamic contours; pedalling too is indicated. In the 1970s she co-founded the Festival Hispano-Mexicano de Música Contemporánea, founded the Camerata de México and made recordings (for Voz Viva de México and Creaciones Cisne). Her many awards include prizes for the music for the film El ídolo de los orígenes (1967) and for incidental dramatic music, and a citation for her own mixed-media creation, Pequeña historia de la música (1980). Her incidental music for plays kept her name constantly before the Mexico City public. In 1981 the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional gave the first performance of her concerto for amplified piano and orchestra, Arcana, in which she herself was the soloist; the première of her Esferas poéticas was given in 1983 by the same orchestra. Manuel Enriquez, Halffter, Mario Lavista and Héctor Quintanar are among those who dedicated works to her.

Carmen Sordo Sodi (1932-present)

Mexican singer, ethnomusicologist, percussionist, and music administrator. She was a student at the Colegio Juan de Dios Peza, the National Conservatory of Music, and the Idyllywild School of Music of the University of Southern California. In 1966 she became head of the Sección de Investigaciones Musicales and in 1974 director of the Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and of the instrument museum of the same institute, where she also inaugurated the annual courses in ethnomusicology (1967–72). As an official researcher of the institute, she has studied and published in the areas of Mexican music history, folklore, dance, and ethnomusicology.

Rosa Guraieb (1931-present)

A female Mexican composer of Lebanese heritage. She was a student at Mexico City Conservatory, and later a student at Yale (1954). Guraieb was noted in the book “The musical woman: An interdisciplinary perspective” as one of the few Mexican Female artists to be successful during the colonial period.

Oralia Dominguez (1928-present)

Mexican contralto. She studied at the Mexican National Conservatory. She made her first appearance with the Mexico City Opera in 1950, and later appeared in Europe. Her voice has exotic resonance, with ease in its technique. Operas she appeared in include: Midsummer Marriage (1955), L’italiana in Algeri, Falstaff, and Covent Garden.

Joaquin Gutierrez Heras (1927-present)

Mexican composer. He was self taught in music, but also studied architecture. From 1950-1952 he studied cello with Hartmann, analysis with Halffter, and composition with Galindo. His works fall into two categories, one for stage and film, and pieces which were written and revised many times. His work for films won him a number of prizes. His works include: Sonata simple, Divertimento, Trio de alientos, & Ludus autumni.

Manuel Enriquez (1926-1994)

Mexican composer. He was one of the primary composers from Mexico in the 1960’s to the 1980’s. His compositions number over one hundred and fifteen and includes solo, chamber, electronic and orchestra music, cantatas (vocal compositions with instrument accompaniment), and works for film. His early music was considered to have a pentatonic (scale of five notes) classical style of Mexican nationalism, with folk like tunes, and strong rhythms. His works included: Suite for violin and piano, String quartet no. 1, Klangfarbenmelodie, Transicion, Ambivalencia, String quartet no. 2, and Diptico I.

Consuelo Velazquez (1920-2005)

Mexican composer. She had graduated with the name profesora de piano from the Escuela National de Musica in Mexico City with the intention of becoming a concert musician but ended up working at a Mexico City radio station. She ended up forming her own group and broadcasting her own songs. Besame mucho (1941) was published in Mexico City when she was only twenty-one years old, was rereleased in New York in 1943, and was a best seller the USA for Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra in 1944. It ended up being a great hit with American servicemen fighting in World War II. The song was recorded by the Beatles in 1962, and now a New Years Eve favorite elevated her into an international success not done by any other woman in Mexican history. Her next great success was Que seas feliz (1956) won an award and was recorded by twenty-one different artists, such as Nat King Cole, Ray Coniff, Percy Faith, and Montovani. She had copyrighted forty-seven by 1989. She was self taught as a composer, but because of her classical instruction her harmony was considered to have exceeded American ballad musicians.

Pablo Castellanos (1917-1981)

Mexican pianist, teacher, and music writer. His father was his first music teacher, and was a well known pianist. He also was a student of the National Conservatory in Mexico City, and later studied in Paris with Cortot from 1928-1931. He also studied with Edwin Fischer in Berlin from 1932-1937. He subsequently taught at the University of Mexico music history and piano from 1939-1965. He performed in Europe, USA, and Mexico with major orchestras, and chamber music groups.

Jose Pablo Moncayo (1912-1958)

Mexican composer. Also a member of the “Group of Four”, he also studied at the Mexico Conservatory harmony, piano, and composition. He began his music career as a percussionist in the Mexican Symphony Orchestra in 1931, and was its conductor from 1949-1954. His works include: Huapango (his most famous which included popular melodies), Amatzinac & Bosques (mainly modal harmony), and Muros verdes. His opera La mulata de Cordoba was based the story of a woman condemned to death, who disappears in a boat cloud of fire during the Inquisition. It was considered one of the best 20th century operas because of its modern style and the poetry of its words.

Salvador Contreras (1910-1982)

Mexican composer. He studied at the Mexico City Conservatory, the violin with Revueltas, theory with Huizar, and composition and conducting with Chavez. And as noted in the prior composer was one of the “Group of Four”. In 1941 his Piece for String Quartet was performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. From 1946-1955 he was a violinist for the National Symphony Orchestra and from 1955-1958 he was a conductor for an opera orchestra. From 1958-1967 he was a professor of harmony, violin, and orchestra director at the Mexico City Conservatory. His first published works was Tres movimientos para guitarra.

Blas Galindo Dimas (1910-1993)

Mexican composer of Huichol Indian heritage. He began playing the church organ by ear, at the age of nineteen, and later played the clarinet in a band. He enrolled in the National Conservatory in 1931, and studied composition with Chavez, and piano with Rodriquez Vizarra. In 1935 he formed the “Group of Four” with Ayaya Perez, Salvador Contreras, and Jose Moncayo creating Mexican music with native instruments and melodies. His most widely played work was Sones de Mariachi which was Mexican street serenades. In 1941-1942 he studied with Copland at the Berkshire Music Center, and in 1943 his orchestral suite Arroyos was played. He became director of the Conservatory from 1947-1961, and in 1947 was appointed head of the music department at the National Institute of Fine Arts. He won a National Arts Prize in 1964. His works range from folklore to dissonant, polyphonic concepts.

Guty Cardenas (1905-1932)

Mexican composer and performer. He was the major promoter of the movement known as trova yucateca which were based on popular songs of the state of Yucatan, and had been created in the 19th century by composers and poets. The rhythm utilizes Cuban and Columbian influences. His work influenced a number of other Mexican composers, such as Agustin Lara. His most popular songs were: Nunca, Peregrino de amor, Quisiera, Ojos tristes, and Flor. He was murdered at the age of twenty-seven, when he returned to Mexico.

Luis Sandi (1905-1996)

Mexican composer. He studied composition and the violin at the Conservatory in Mexico City, and at the age of nineteen he played in an opera company that toured Cuba. In 1932 he became a director at the National Institute for fine Arts, and in 1959 became director of the opera. In 1938 he established the Coro de Madrigalistas which for twenty years was the leading Mexican chorus. His works were never published.

Rodolfo Halffter (1900-1987)

Mexican composer of Prussian heritage. He became a Mexican citizen in 1939. He was a self taught musician acquiring his style from the Harmonielehre of Schoenberg and the work of Debussy. When beginning his work as a composer, he supported himself by working in a bank. At the end of the Spanish Civil War in Spain, he moved voluntarily to Mexico in 1939. He was welcomed by other musicians, such as Chavez and Galindo, and the Mexican government. For two years he taught at a music school in Mexico City and then became a professor at the National Conservatory in musical analysis. He subsequently taught there for thirty years. He also was an editor of a journal called Nuestra musica in 1946, and director of the Ediciones Mexicanas de Musica. It was also in 1946 that the first performances were given of his Violin Concerto and Dushkin was soloist. It was from this that his compositions gained international attention. His music is considered tonal, enhanced with bold and polytonal (composition in which several keys are used at once) variations. In 1953, Tres hojas de album done for piano used “twelve-note serialism”, and he was the first Mexican composer to use it.

Esperanza Pulido (1900-1991)

Mexican composer, pianist, music critic and scholar. She studied the piano with Antonio Gomezanda in Mexico City, and later went to Paris and was a student of Andre Schaeffer, Lazare Levy, and Alfred Cortot. She resettled in Mexico City in 1949, after making debut piano recitals in New York City, and Paris. She became a writer assisting Adolfo Salazar at the newspaper Novedades, and wrote for many foreign magazines. In 1963 she established Mexico’s longest running musical journal called Heterofonia, and remained its editor until her death.

Eduardo Hernandez Moncada (1899-1995)

Mexican composer and conductor. He studied in Mexico City with Rafael Tello, Joaquin Beristain, and Aurelio Barrios y Morales. He began his musical career as a pianist working in cinemas and cafes. In 1929, Chavez invited him to join the Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the National Conservatory. He served in the orchestra as a percussionist and pianist from 1929-1936, and from 1936-1943 as a conductor. While at the conservatory he taught a variety of classes and held a number of posts, until he retired in 1957. He also lectured in several other professional music educational programs. He directed the Opera Academy from 1947-1956, which launched works that had never been presented in Mexico before, such as; Milhaud Le pauvre matelot & Debussy’s L’enfant prodigue. He also translated the operas of The Visitors by Chavez, and the Dialogues des Carmelites by Poulenc, which he later directed the first Mexican performance of in 1959. He orchestrated many well-liked songs, and wrote compositions for ballets, plays, and films which included the film Enamorada. His work is placed in the Modernist period of Mexican music, and has nationalist values. His pieces of music are influenced by his home state of Veracruz with their melodies and themes. Noteworthy compositions include: his Symphony no.1 with its rhythm in a classical format, the opera Elena, his song Tres sonetos de sor Juana, and his piano piece Costena.

Carlos Chavez (1899-1978)

Mexican composer, conductor, music writer, teacher, and government official. His career spanned greater than fifty years. He wrote more than two-hundred works, conducted for a number of orchestras in the USA, Latin America, and Europe. He held government positions in the arts in Mexico, lecturing, and wrote music about the social situations of the time. His music covers a wide array of tendencies which include: Mexican both pre-Conquest and modern, delicate dissonance, melody, atonality, polytonality, and forms of music which were considered classical. Chavez’s fame coincided with the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1921. Nationalism had a lot of influence for this time period. The government became the primary sponsor of the arts, and bringing culture to the people which included influence of Indian cultures from the pre-Conquest period. It was in 1921 that Chavez made his début as a composer which vocalized the new nationalism of the time. In 1928 he was hired as director of the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica which he held until 1933, and again for part of 1934. He altered the musical program, and organized concerts of chamber, orchestra, and choral music. He also founded study of folk and popular music, history, and new musical potential. He created the music journal Musica with other young gifted faculty. He served on a number of government appointed programs to introduce the public to Mexico’s rich musical heritage. His early works (before 1921) were mostly for piano and considered romantic. He has a vast list of works which include: El Fuego Nuevo, Llamadas, Mexican ballad El sol (for chorus & Orchestra), Obertura republican, Los cuatro soles (pre-Hispanic heritage & nationalism), Sinfonia india, Xochipilli, the ballet Caballos de vapor (folk elements in a modern setting), six symphonies, Concerto for four Horns, and the four Solis (I, II, IV are for wind instruments, III is for orchestra with four soloists). His works are considered the major influence in bringing Mexican music into the 20th century and out to the rest of the world.

Agustin Lara (1897-1970)

Mexican songwriter. He had no schooled training, but composed approximately seven hundred songs, although only four hundred and twenty are documented. He created a personal style of composition which changed urban song in Mexico, and influenced those of Spain and Latin America. By his lyrics he influenced later composers and popular awareness. He utilized popular styles such as the tango (Arrancame la vida), traditional Mexican song (Xochimilco & Janitzio), and waltz (Farolito, Rival, Noche de ronda, & Maria Bonita). His songs of Spanish subject matter gained international success (Granada, Madrid, Clavel sevillano, & Cuerdas de mi guitarra). But his boleros, Spanish dances with foot-stomping and dramatic poses took on an original Mexican nature (Imposible, Rosa, Aventurera, Santa, Mujer, Oracion Caribe, Noche criolla, Veracruz, Palmera, Nadie, & Solamente una vez). He was a renowned presence from 1930 until his death through his radio programs, work in the theater, and the use of his songs in films.

Miguel Bernal Jimenez (1910-1956)

Mexican composer. He was a choirboy, who later went to Rome and studied composition and musicology under Casimini. He graduated from the Pontificio Istituto di Musica Sacra in the organ, composition and the Gregorian chant in 1933. Upon graduation he returned to his home town in Mexico and taught at the Escuela Superior de Musica Sagrada and founded the monthly Schola cantorum which he edited until 1953. He toured Mexico and the US as a concert organist, conductor of chorus, and lecturer. He taught at a university in New Orleans until his death in 1954. His stage works include: Tata Vasco, an opera which commemorated the arrival of Vasco de Quiroga, the first bishop of Michoacan; Timgambato, the ballet paying tribute to Mexican poet Juana Ines de la Cruz. His music was considered refined for a conservative Mexican of his age group.

Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940)

Mexican composer and violinist. He began his violin studies at the age of eight and at the age of twelve enrolled in the Juarez Institute. He studied composition under Tello and violin under Rocabruna in Mexico City, and also spent time in Texas as well as Chicago and Alabama. He went back to Mexico City in 1929 to take the post of assistant conductor of the Mexico Symphony Orchestra which he did until 1935. From 1931-34 he composed six distinguished pieces for the orchestra. At the same time he taught violin and chamber music at the conservatory. His work had melodies of folksong with instrumentation. His melodies had dissonant counterpoint and are always melodious and in a repetitive manner. He died at an early age due to the effects of alcoholism.

Geronimo Baqueiro Foster (1898-1967)

Mexican composer and musicologist. He learned to play the flute and oboe (woodwind instrument) in Mexico and worked in several military and popular bands. In 1922 he enrolled in the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City and was a student of Julian Carillo. He worked as a music critic until he was appointed the professor of acoustics and music history at the National Conservatory in 1929. He held this post until he retired in 1965. His most important work dealt with the study of Mexican folk music and music history. He also owned one of the most broad and priceless music libraries in Mexico which now is at CENIDIM.

Jose Mojica (1896-1974)

Mexican tenor. He was born poor and out of wedlock but was blessed with a good voice. In 1919 he joined the Chicago Opera Company and stayed until 1930. He went into film after that time. When his mother died in 1943 he became a Franciscan priest and worked as a missionary in Peru. He did a concert tour in 1954 to raise money, and wrote his autobiography Yo Pecador. His recordings have a striking lyrical voice used with imagination and talent.

Jose Vasquez (1895-1961)

Mexican composer and conductor. He studied at the National Conservatory in Mexico City the piano with Rafael Tello, and theory with Carillo. In 1921, he founded his own Escuela Libre de Musica y Declamacion where he taught until his death. In 1926, he formed the National University Symphony Orchestra, and as a conductor performed in Europe, South America, as well as was the first Mexican to conduct in Japan. He formed his own opera company called Pro arte patrio, which performed his works for opera as well as operas by other Mexican composers. The Suite para instrumentos de arco was awarded in 1927 a composition prize by the Congreso Nacional de Musica.

Baltasar Samper (1888-1966)

Mexican composer and musicologist. His father was an opera singer. Born and receiving musical education in Spain he studied piano with Granados and harmony and composition with Pedrell from which he developed an enthusiasm for folklore. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, in 1939 he lived in France where he was an organist of the Toulouse Cathedral. He moved to Mexico in 1942 and became a Mexican citizen. He taught at the National Conservatory in Mexico City and wrote film music, conducted the Orfeo Catela, and as director of the Mexican Folklore Archive conducted extensive research projects about Mexican folklore.

Fanny Anitua (1887-1968)

Mexican contralto. She studied in Mexico City and in Rome where she made her first appearance in 1909 as Gluck’s Orpheus. Her rich flexible voice was ideal for Cenerentola and other contralto roles. She spent time touring the US with the Western Metropolitan Company, and made her final appearance in 1937 at Buenos Aires as Mistress Quickly, and then taught in Mexico City.

Jose Rolon (1886-1945)

Mexican composer. He began his studies in Guadalajara under Francisco Godinez and continued his studies in Paris from 1904-07 with Gedalge studying harmony and Moszkowski studying piano. From 1907 to 1927 he remained in Guadalajara where in 1916 he founded the Escuela Normal de Musica, and in 1915 he founded the Orquestra Filarmonica de Jalisco. He taught many musicians, as well as gave performances for the first time of the compositions of Milhaud and Varese. He did return back to Paris in 1927 and studied composition with Dukas and studied harmony with Boulanger. Returning to Mexico City he taught composition, harmony, and piano at the Conservatorio Nacional from 1930-1938 and became its director in 1938. His early compositions for the piano show a progression from Romanticism to modernization of his Piano Concerto (1935) which was harmonic and distinctive. Poems of Mexican authors converted to song make up one of the greatest groups of songs in the Latin America under his credit. Zapotlan whose orchestration includes two guitars is one of the works of art of Mexican nationalism and came before work from the composers Revueltas or Galindo. Cuauhtemoc is distinguished by its dramatic energy and the use of Sprechgesang which is a style of singing that incorporates ordinary nonmusical speech. His work is considered comparable to that of Villa-Lobos or Ponce and its contribution to Latin American advancement in music.

Maria Grever (1885-1951)

Mexican composer who also lived and worked in the United States. She was considered a child prodigy who wrote a Christmas carol at the age of four. Born to a Mexican mother and a Spanish father she was taken to Spain as a child and traveled throughout Europe obtaining musical instruction from Franz Lehar. When she later returned to Mexico she studied singing with her aunt Cuca Torres. She married an American oil company executive in 1907, and lived in New York from 1916 until her death in 1951. Works to her credit include: Besame (Kiss me) 1921 was her first international success, followed by Jurame (Promise me) in 1928 which became popular by the tenor Jose Mojica. She is credited with eight hundred and fifty songs, eighteen were popular in Mexico. Upon her death, her remains were taken to Mexico City.

Candelario Huizar (1883-1970)

Mexican composer. At the age of nine he joined the Jerez community band as a saxophonist, and took lessons from the director, Narciso Arriaga. He later played the viola in a string quartet, and was a horn player in the state band. He served in the military, and later settled in Mexico City and in 1918 became a pupil of Campa at the Conservatorio National. In 1928, he was invited to join the Orquesta Sinfonica de Mexico as a horn player, and also was a librarian. All of his initial compositions were played by this orchestra. These works include: Imagenes (1927) a prizewinning impression of his home town in 1929, Pueblerinas (1931) a carnival piece, Surco (1935) a country life symphonic poem, four symphonies in Classical sonata form, incorporating nationalist themes were performed in 1930, 1936, 1938, and 1942. Some of his symphonies include: No. 2 subtitled Oxpaniztli for the eleventh month of the Aztec calendar, no.4 named Cora after the tribe that gave Chavez the theme in his Sinfonia india. His late works were noted for their Mexican nationalism.

Manuel Ponce (1882-1948)

Mexican composer and pianist. Considered the most important Mexican musician of his time, he made important contributions in the development of a national style of Mexican music. He came from a family of musicians; with his sister Josefina he began his studies with Cipriano Avila. He joined the choir in Aguascalientes when he was approximately eleven years old and later became the assistant organist and later the organist of the choir. From 1900-1901 he studied in Mexico City the piano under Vicente Manas, and studied harmony with Eduardo Gabrielli. He continued his studies in Europe; under the instruction of Marco Enrico Bossi he studied composition. He later studied the piano in Berlin with Krause. Financial difficulties forced him to return to Mexico in January of 1907. He returned to Aguascalientes and gave piano lessons, until he moved to Mexico City and taught the piano at the Conservatorio Nacional. In 1910, he formed a panel of judges in a composing competition marking the anniversary of Mexican independence. The judges included Pedrell, Faure, and Saint-Saens. In 1912, he performed a concert of his works which included the premier of his Piano Concerto, which validated him as the most important Mexican music figure at that time. Due to social and political problems from the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) he was forced to leave from 1915-1917. During that time he was in Havana, Cuba where he gave concerts, wrote music reviews, and gave lectures. When he returned to Mexico in 1917, he began his piano teaching again at the conservatory, and conducted the National Symphony Orchestra from 1917-1919. From 1919-1920 he published the magazine Revista musical de Mexico, the first of his numerous publishing entities. He returned to Paris in 1925, and studied with Dukas. It was there he published the magazine Gaceta musical, a Spanish magazine with a number of contributors such as, Dukas, Milhaud, Villa-Lobos, and Alejo Carpentier. It was also at this time when he was commissioned by the Albeniz family to complete the opera Merlin, from which he wrote a symphonic collection.
Returning to Mexico again in 1933, he was the director of the National Conservatory, and focused on composing and teaching. He edited a third magazine in 1926-1937 called Cultura musical. He was a productive writer, publishing a number of articles ranging from piano techniques to matters regarding the media. It was in the 1930’s to 1940’s that some of his most famous premiers and performances of his works occurred. These works included: Chapultepec (1934), Poemaelegiaco (1935), Suite en estilo antiguo (1935), Merlin (1938) Ferial (1943), and the Violin Concerto (1934). He died having received numerous prizes and receiving many distinctions, which included the Premio Nacional de Artes in 1947.
Ponce’s Works: Internationally he is best known for the song Estrellita. His works incorporated a wide array of tendencies and styles from Romanticism from his early piano compositions to the harmony of his Sonata for the violin or viola. Although considered Mexico’s first nationalist composer his compositions later changed to a more contemporary style. He wrote a number of works for the guitar which included six sonatas: Clasica, Romantica, de Paganini, and Mexicana. Some of his works had preludes and fugues on themes based upon Handel and Bach which would be considered neo-classical. Others had a Spanish style such as Diferencias sobre las folia de Espana, and others inspired by Cuban music such as, Suite cubana, & Elegia de la ausencia. Ponce was a expert pianist, and wrote a great number of piano compositions which incorporated a knowledge of the instrument with his Romantic heritage, and also a national tendency.

Arnulfo Miramontes (1882-1960)

Mexican composer. He was a student of Martin Krause, studying the piano, and Alexander von Fielitz, studying conducting in Berlin. He also studied in Guadalajara and Mexico City. After working in Europe he returned to Mexico where he was a piano teacher. He toured the United States in 1921, giving a performance at Columbia University. Later in 1922, he founded the state symphony orchestra in Aguascalientes to which he was the conductor until the late 1930’s. He retired from public life due to blindness, but he continued to compose. His music style is considered traditional, and contains complex linear counterpoint. He wrote three operas: Anahuac and Cihuatl which was based upon pre-Hispanic Mexico, and Juana de Asbaje which is based on the poet Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz from the eighteenth century.

Alfredo Carrasco Candil (1875-1945)

Mexican composer. In Guadalajara, he had studied under Andres Tenorio, the flute and Francisco Godinez, the organ. He was appointed an organist in Guadalajara and was a conductor of the children’s chorus at a cathedral. He had also founded a piano academy. In 1918, he moved to Mexico City where he lived until he died. He began writing music when he was twelve years old, and became a creative and multitalented composer. His compositions were traditional, and romantic style, was influence by the works of Faure and Franck. Much of his compositions have been lost, but according to him he composed over two hundred works. His works consisted of religious music, piano works, zarzuelas, and chamber music. His work is considered an important part of twentieth century Mexican music.


Mexico is located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. The United States borders it to the north, and Guatemala and Belize borders it the southeast. Mexico City is its capital. It was formerly the place of several native cultures: Maya, Olmec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Toltec, and the Aztec. It was colonized by Spain after 1519. It became free in 1821, and became a republic in 1824.