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Ponce, Manuel María


Popular Mexican composer, pianist, and teacher; b. Fresnillo (Zacatecas), Dec. 8, 1882; d. Mexico City, April

24, 1948. At ten he was a choirboy; at 15, organist at San Diego church, Aguascalientes, where his brother was a priest. In 1906, after studying with Luigi Torchi in Bologna, he made his piano début in Berlin. In 1912 he was soloist at the première of his Piano Concerto, his first large work, in Mexico City. Gradually he turned less to European classics than to the Spanish-American melos for inspiration, and his ingratiating canciones mexicanas (including Estrellita ) appeared in 1914. During another extended European residence (192532), his style matured contrapuntally and harmonically, and thereafter he made imaginative use of native materials. In 1941 he made a highly successful South American tour, during which his Concierto del Sur for guitar and orchestra (Andrés Segovia, soloist) had its first hearing. As a teacher Ponce introduced debussy and other moderns to Mexico City, and one of his first pupils was the distinguished composer Carlos Chávez.

Bibliography: m. m. ponce, Nuevos escritos musicales (Mexico City 1948). r. m. stevenson, Music in Mexico: A Historical Survey (New York 1952). h. ferdinand, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949 ) 10:143738. o. mayer-serra, Música y músicos de Latinoamérica, 2 v. (Mexico City 1947) 2:782786. j. pena, Diccionario de la música Labor, ed. h. anglÈs, 2 v. (Barcelona 1954) 2:178788. p. castellanos, rev. p. mello, Manuel M. Ponce (México City 1982). d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge 1996) 700. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Eighth Edition (New York 1992) 1427. r. stevenson, "Manuel (María) Ponce" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 15, ed. s. sadie (New York 1980) 7475.

[r. stevenson]

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