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Chávez (y Ramírez), Carlos (Antonio de Padua)

mexico mexican piano music

Chávez (y Ramírez), Carlos (Antonio de Padua), distinguished Mexican composer and conductor; b. Calzada de Tacube, near Mexico City, June 13, 1899; d. Mexico City, Aug. 2, 1978. He studied piano as a child with Pedro Luis Ogazón, then studied harmony with Juan B. Fuentes and Manuel Ponce. He began to compose very early in life. He wrote a Sym. at the age of 16, and made effective piano arrangements of popular Mexican songs and also wrote many piano pieces of his own. His first important work was a ballet on an Aztec subject, El fuego nuevo (1921), commissioned by the Secretariat of Public Education of Mexico. Historical and national Mexican subject matter remained the primary source of inspiration in many of his works, but he rarely resorted to literal quotations from authentic folk melodies; rather, he sublimated and distilled the melo-rhythmic Mexican elements, resulting in a sui generis style of composition. In 1922-23 he traveled in France, Austria, and Germany, and became acquainted with the modern developments in composition. The influence of this period on his evolution as a composer is reflected in the abstract titles of his piano works, such as Aspectos, Energía, and Unidad . Returning to Mexico, he organized and conducted a series of concerts of new music, giving first Mexican performances of works by Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Satie, Milhaud, and Várese. From 1926 to 1928 he lived in N.Y. In 1928 he organized the Orquesta Sinfónica de Mexico, of which he remained the principal conductor until 1949. Works of modern music occupied an important part in the program of this orch., including 82 first performances of works by Mexican composers, many of them commissioned by Chávez; Silvestre Revueltas was among those encouraged by Chávez to compose. During his tenure as conductor, Chávez engaged a number of famous foreign musicians as guest conductors, as well as numerous soloists. In 1948 the orch. was renamed the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional; it remains a permanent institution. Chávez served as director of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música from 1928 to 1933 and again in 1934; he was general director of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes from 1946 to 1952. Beginning in 1936 Chávez conducted a great number of concerts with major American orchs., and also conducted concerts in Europe and South America. Culturally, he maintained a close connection with progressive artists and authors of Mexico, particularly the painter Diego Rivera; his Sinfonía proletaria for Chorus and Orch. reflects his political commitment. In 1958-59 he was the Charles Eliot Norton Prof, of Poetry at Harvard Univ.; these lectures were publ., as Musical Thought (Cambridge, Mass., 1960). Chávez also pubi, a book of essays, Toward a New Music (N.Y., 1937).

Chabrier, (Alexis-) Emmanuel [next] [back] Chávez, César Estrada

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