Lara, Agustín

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Lara, Agustín

Lara, Agustín, notably successful Mexican composer of popular songs; b. Mexico City, Oct. 30, 1897; d. there, Nov. 5, 1970. He was autodidact as a musician and never learned to read or write music. He was 13 when he began playing piano in bordellos and bars, eventually finding his métier as a composer of popular songs. After a stint on his own radio program (1930), he wrote the score for Santa (1931), one of the first Mexican talking pictures. He subsequently wrote songs for some 30 films. Between 1932 and 1934 he had enormous success with the songs Granada, Seitora tentación, La clave azul, Palmera, La cumbancha, Pregón de las rosas, and Noche criolla. Several of his hits were translated into English and were taken up by Frank Sinatra {Granada), Bing Crosby (You Belong to My Heart), the Ames Brothers (Be Mine Tonight), and the Glenn Miller Orch. (The Nearness of You). Among his various wives was the film star María Félix, whom he married in 1945 and for whom he wrote the songs María Bonita, Palabras de mujer, and Humo en los ojos. Maria Bonita became an international favorite. Lara’s career was the subject of Alejandro Galindo’s film La vida de Agustín Lara (1958). Mexico granted him many honors, and in 1966 Generalissimo Franco of Spain accorded him honorary Spanish citizenship in recognition of the songs he wrote denoting such Spanish cities as Granada, Madrid, Valencia, and Toledo. By order of the president of Mexico, Lara was buried in the Rotondo de los Hombres Ilustres. In 1971 a Mexican postage stamp was issued to commemorate him. Lara wrote over 800 songs in a remarkably broad and adaptable style, including romantic ballads, pasodobles, rancheras, chotis, tangos, and marches.


D. Castañeda, Balance de A. L. (Mexico City, 1941); P. Taibo, La mùsica A. L en el Cine (Mexico City, 1984); idem, A. L (Mexico City, 1985); G. Abaroa Martinez, El Flaco de Oro (Mexico City, 1993).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire