Boletín Musical

(Buenos Aires, 1837)

Prepared by Ana María Mondolo
Online only (2009)

The Boletín Musical [BOL] is the first music journal published in Argentina. The only surviving copy, which is incomplete, is found at the Museum of Musical Instrument “Dr. Emilio Azzarini” at the National University of La Plata. This copy, originally belonged to Alejo González Garaño, is available today in a facsimile edition.

The journal’s sixteen issues appeared twice weekly with some irregularity between August 21 and December 3, 1837. Each issue consists of: (1.) short literary booklets published by the Argentina Printing (the booklets for issues 1 and 14 were lost, and one page is missing from issue No.12); (2.) compositions printed by the Litografía Argentina, owned by Gregorio Ibarra (b.Buenos Aires, March 12,1814; d. Montevideo, Dec.12,1883), who was also the editor of the publication. Many of these pieces of music were distributed serially over two or more issues; a Valsa by J. is incomplete; (3.) lithographed illustrations, of which only three are preserved (those found in issues Nos. 7, 12 and 15).

The journal’s content supplies essential documents for the history of Argentinean music, offering information on the aesthetic movement that was in vogue at the time both in the city of Buenos Aires and in Europe. The Boletín Musical highlights the customs and social traditions of the era, provides translations of extracts from magazines and books of the Old World, and puts within reach a significant number of compositions, many of which are known only through their inclusion in this journal. Such is the case with the compositions by local composers Juan Bautista Alberdi, Juan Cruz Cordero and Juan Pedro Esnaola, Juan Cruz and Juan Pedro Cordero Esnaola. The compositions by Nicanor Albarellos, Remigio Navarro, Julián Veloz, Salustiano Zavalía are the only surviving compositions by these authors. The journal contains, as well, the first work attributed to a women composer in Argentina (signed under the pseudonym "Una porteña” [A native women from Buenos Aires]). Of all the twenty-nine compositions found, nineteen are attributed to local composers, one to Vincenzo Bellini, and nine are signed with unidentifiable initials. Among other subjects treated in the articles are anecdotes about Napoleon Bonaparte or Niccoló Paganini; news and notes on Rossini and Bellini, and comments on the writings of Plato and Pythagoras.

One problematic feature of the journal is that most of the articles are unsigned or appeared with names not identified with personalities of the time. Consequently contributors to the journal remain unidentified. Many of the journal’s writings are untitled miscellaneous sections. Some consist of brief notes, barely a paragraph on curiosities occurring in Argentina, comments about published works, or profiles of local composers, etc. Other texts consist of excerpts of articles taken from European music journals (such as the French Revue des deux mondes and the Gazette des salons). On occasion the names of the authors are given (for example, Enrique Heine for Heinrich Heine, or F. Vuloz for François Buloz).