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Carrillo, Julián [Antonio] (1875–1965)

Carrillo, Julián [Antonio] (1875–1965)

Julián [Antonio] Carrillo (b. 28 January 1875; d. 9 September 1965), Mexican composer, theorist, conductor, violinist, and teacher. Born in Ahualulco, San Luis Potosí, Carrillo studied at the National Conservatory in Mexico City, where he took violin with Pedro Manzano, composition with Melesio Morales, and acoustics with Francisco Ortega y Fonseca. He went to Europe in 1899, remaining there until 1905 and studying at the Leipzig Conservatory with Salomon Jadassohn (composition), Carl Reinecke (theory), Jean Becker (violin), and Arthur Nikisch and Sitt (conducting). He also studied violin with Albert Zimmer at the Ghent Conservatory. In Leipzig he led the Gewandhaus Orchestra. During that epoch Carrillo started to develop his new musical theory about dividing a violin string in such a way as to create a ratio of 1:1-007246. Carrillo divided the octave into microtones (intervals smaller than the semitone), calling his system "Sonido 13"—the "thirteenth sound." He also developed a method of music notation for the micro tonal system. Carrillo's Symphony no. 1 (1902) was premiered under his baton by the Leipzig Conservatory Orchestra. In it he used what he called "ideological unity and tonal variety." He continued to experiment and began using an excessively complex musical vocabulary, even though one third of his works are written without microtones.

Carrillo returned to Mexico and was appointed professor of composition at the National Conservatory (1906), inspector general of music for Mexico City (1908), and director of the National Conservatory (1913–1915, 1920–1924). Beginning in 1926 Carrillo's musical works and theoretical writings were very much praised abroad, by the New York League of Composers, the Philadelphia Orchestra, in Belgium, and in France. In 1961 the Lamoureux Orchestra of Paris recorded twenty of his microtonal and tonal works. A special piano for use with Carrillo's new system was built by the firm of Carl Sauter. Carrillo composed two operas as well as several symphonies, orchestral works, chamber music, and works for guitar, violin, and piano, and published numerous essays about his musical theory. He died in San Ángel.

See alsoMusic: Art Music .


Julian Carrillo, Julian Carrillo: Su vida y su obra (1945).

Gerald R. Benjamin, "Julian Carrillo and 'sonido 13,'" in Yearbook, Inter-American Institute for Musical Research, vol. 3 (1967), pp. 33-68.

Juan A. Orrego-Salas, ed., Music from Latin America Available at Indiana University (1971), p. 168; New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 3 (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Carrillo, Julián. Julián Carrillo: Testimonio de una vida. San Luis Potosí: Comité Organizador "San Luis 400," 1992.

Contreras Soto, Eduardo. "Julián Carrillo y Ricardo Castro: Dos clásicos salvajes." Nexos 19: 226 (October 1996): 22-29.

                                        Susana Salgado

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