Revista Musical de México

(Mexico City, 1919-1920)

Prepared by Esperanza Berrocal
Online only (2008)

Revista Musical de México [RMM] was published monthly in Mexico City from 15 May 1919 through 31 May 1920 by Ediciones Músico Moderno. Each of the journal’s twelve issues is approximately thirty two pages in length and includes an additional four pages of the music supplement, Álbum de la Revista Musical de México. Issues are printed in single-column format except for some reviews that are printed in two-column format. The publication was directed by Manuel M. Ponce and Rubén M. Campos up to issue no. 8 (15 December 1919). Thereafter upon Campos’ appointment as Mexican Consul to Milan, the journal’s cover page indicates Manuel M. Ponce as its sole director. Though there was not an official statement of the journal’s purpose, the Revista Musical de México was a pioneer publication in providing Mexican readers with musical writings of a scholarly nature. RMM was published nine years after the Mexican Revolution (1910) at the very end of a decade that had witnessed profound changes in the mentalities of Mexican intellectuals and artists. The composer Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), an important figure in Mexico’s musical life, was the journal’s principal director and a major contributor. Ponce fostered national music, encouraging Mexican composers to collect, investigate and to use Mexican folk music as their source of inspiration. However, having recently returned from voluntary exile in Cuba (1915-1917) and benefiting from his early European studies in Italy and Germany, Ponce was well qualified to give critical opinions of European musical trends and to promote his country’s music and musicians which is reflected in the journal’s content.

Each issue of the Revista Musical de México contains between two to four informative articles and two review sections, one focusing on foreign musical activities (“Por el mundo musical” [On the musical world]) and the other on national news (“Crónica mexicana,” [Mexican chronicle]). Advertisement sections open and close the journal’s issues. The vast majority of the journal’s informative articles treat a variety of subjects relating to Western European music and to Mexican music, both past and current. Two curious subjects treated in the journal merit mention: the relationship between music and color, and music in the writings of Oscar Wilde. There are also a few reports on the state of music in North America.

Ponce’s interest in contemporary music trends is reflected in his essays on music after World War I (“La música después de la guerra” [Music after the War]); on North American composers (“La música norteamericana” [North American music]) and on individual composers (“Albéniz”). He also writes extensively on the virtuosi of his time, showing high esteem for Artur Rubinstein, Enrico Caruso and Shasha Jacobsen. Other important contributors write articles of wide-reaching interests: Alba Herrera y Ogazón and Antonio Caso discuss Beethoven’s sonatas and the Ninth Symphony, respectively; the Spanish musicologists José Subirá explores the music of Wagner, and Felipe Pedrell the music of Spain. The director’s effort to include articles of historical value is reflected in the vast literature excerpted and translated from other journals or books, not always specified in the journal: of particular interest are the contributions of Carol Berard on French music, Romain Rolland on Debussy’s Pélleas et Mélisande, Wanda Landowska on progress in music, and the biographical sketches of Camille Bellaigue on Handel and Bach. Mexican composer Carlos Chávez—at the age of twenty— contributed an article containing extracts from Jules Combarieu’s La Musique et la magie [Music and magic] (Paris, 1909).

Despite the importance of these articles, the Revista Musical de México’s most valuable contribution is reflected in the journal’s treatment of Mexican musical life. Not surprisingly Ponce’s articles deal with folklore and music education, aiming to stimulate new paths both in music making and pedagogy in Mexico. For the latter, he appealed to institutions to update their methods, claiming that examinations were useless and that it was necessary to adjust piano technique to new trends in music composition, in particular to the works of Debussy (“La enseñanza actual en la técnica pianístia es deficiente” [Current pedagogy in piano technique is deficient]). The journal’s co-director Ruben M. Campos contributed an interesting column (‘Máscaras musicales’ [Musical masks]) in which he writes about the artistic profiles of Mexican composers and pianists Alberto Villaseñor, Felipe Villanueva, Ernesto Elorduy, and Ricardo Castro. Revealing the growing interest in Mexican musicology, Manuel Toissant studies the original sources for the history of music in México (“Documentos para la historia de la música en México”[documents on the history of music in Mexico]).

The “Crónica mexicana” column rarely deals with reviews in the strict sense of the term word, but rather contains invaluable items on day-to-day musical life not only in México City but also in cities such as Guadalajara, Puebla and Monterrey.

Of particular interest is the journal’s rich iconography which includes photographs of Albéniz, Gabriella Besanzoni, Casals, Caruso, Ricardo Castro, Ernesto Elorduy, Shasha Jacobsen, Liszt, Leo Ornstein, Anna Paulowa, Giorgio Polacco, Rosa Raisa, and Titta Ruffo, as well as portraits of Beethoven, Debussy, Handel, and Mozart.

Apart from Manuel Ponce’s articles, those of Ruben M. Campos are also of great interest. The list of other collaborators includes important musicologist and composers, including Gustavo E. Campa, Antonio Caso, Carlos Chávez, Enrique González Martínez, Alba Herrera y Ogazón, José Vasconcelos, and Julián Carrillo. Among foreign collaborators is the Cuban composer and musicologist Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes writing brief reports on musial life in Havana.

The musical supplement, Álbum de la Revista Musical de México, was distributed with each issue as hors-textes bearing no pagination. In all the Álbum contains twelve pieces, seven for piano and five for voice and piano. Manuel Ponce contributed three works and each of the following composers one: Gustavo E. Campa, Jules Danbe, Pedro Luis Ogazón, Estanislao Mejía, Alejandro Meza, Heriberto lopez, Noe Mac Pulmen, Andre Bahnet, and Luis Martín.

The advertisements offer information on music academies, instruments sales and new publications of Ediciones Músico Moderno.

This RIPM publication is based on a reprint facsimile edition published by the Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación, Información y Difusión Musical Carlos Chávez (CENIDIM), Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA), and the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, México, 1991.