Revueltas, Silvestre

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Revueltas, Silvestre

Revueltas, Silvestre , remarkable Mexican composer; b. Santiago Papasquiaro, Dec. 31, 1899; d. Mexico City, Oct. 5, 1940. He began violin studies when he was 8 in Colima, then entered the Juárez Inst. in Durango at age 12. After studies with Tello (composition) and Rocabruna (violin) in Mexico City (1913–16), he took courses at St. Edward Coll. in Austin, Tex. (1916–18), and with Sametini (violin) and Borowski (composition) at the Chicago Musical Coll. (1918–20); returned to Chicago to study violin with Kochanski and Sevčik (1922–26). He was active as a violinist and conductor in Tex. and Ala. (1926–28), and asst. conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Mexico (1929–35); only then did he begin to compose. In 1937 he went to Spain, where he was active in the cultural affairs of the Loyalist government during the Civil War. His health was ruined by exertions and an irregular life-style, and he died of pneumonia. His remains were deposited in the Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres in Mexico City on March 23, 1976, to the music of his Redes and the funeral march from Beethoven’s Eroica. He possessed an extraordinary natural talent and an intimate understanding of Mexican music; he succeeded in creating works of great originality, melodic charm, and rhythmic vitality.


(all 1st perf. in Mexico City unless otherwise given): DRMATIC: Ba11et : El Renacuajo paseador (1933; Oct. 4, 1940); La Coronela (unfinished; completed by Galindo and Huizar; Nov. 20, 1941). ORCH.: Cuauhnahuac (1931–32; June 2, 1933); Esquinas for Small Orch. (Nov. 20, 1931; also for Large Orch., 1933); Ventanas (1931; Nov. 4, 1932); Alcancias (1932); Colorines for Small Orch. (Aug. 30, 1932); Ocho por Radio for Small Orch. (Oct. 13, 1933); Janitzio (Oct. 13, 1933; rev. 1936); Caminos (July 17, 1934); Planos, “geometric dance” (Nov. 5, 1934); Redes, concert suite from the film score, for Small Orch. (1935; Barcelona, Oct. 7, 1937); Homenaje a Federico García Lorca for Small Orch. (1935; Madrid, Sept. 22, 1937); Sensemayá (Dec. 15, 1938; also for Voice and Small Orch., 1937); Música para charlar, concert suite from the film scores El Indio and Ferrocarriles de Baja California (Dec. 15, 1938); La noche de los Mayas, concert suite from the film score (1939); Itinerarios (1939); Paisajes (1940); Troka (1940). CHAMBER: 4 string quartets: No. 1 (1930), No. 2, Magueyes (1931), No. 3 (1931; recovered in 1984 and posthumously numbered), and No.4, Música de feria (1932; posthumously numbered); 3 Pieces for Violin and Piano (1932); Tocata sin fuga for Violin and 7 Winds (1933); Canto de guerra de los frentes leaks for 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, 2 Tubas, Percussion, and Piano (1938); 3 sonetas for Chamber Ensemble (1940); 3 Little Serious Pieces for Piccolo, Oboe, Trumpet, Clarinet, and Saxophone (1940). VOCAL: Sensemayá for Voice and Small Orch., based on an Afro-Cuban legend (1937; rev. for Large Orch. alone, Dec. 15, 1938); Hora de junio for Narrator and Orch. (1938); Parias for Soprano, Chorus, and Small Orch. (1940); many songs.


G. Contreras, S. R.: Genio atormentado (Mexico City, 1954).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire