Monday, October 26, 2009

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.

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