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La Armonía

(Mexico City, 1866-1867)

Prepared by Alejandro González
Online only (2009)

Published in Mexico City from November 1866 to May 1867, La Armonía [ARO]—consisting of thirteen eight-page issues—served as the official publication of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, inaugurated on 10 July 1866. Those associated with its founding had also been active in establishing the Sociedad Filarmónica Mexicana in 1862. The journal’s content focuses almost exclusively on musical life in Mexico City. The only foreign news is related to musical events in Paris, and brief notes on concerts in German and French cities.

A politician, journalist, music historian and contributor to the journal, Gabino Feliciano Bustamante (1816-1871), was commissioned in November 1866 to select the journal’s contributors. These included the critic and composer Alfredo Bablot d’Olbreuse, a Frenchman who settled in Mexico in 1849. Bablot was a founding member of the Sociedad Filarmónica, and Director of the Conservatorio from 1882 until his death in 1892. Other contributors include Manuel Siliceo and José Ignacio Durán, president and vice-president respectively of the Sociedad Filarmónica Mexicana; composer Aniceto Ortega; and writer-pedagogue Luis Muñoz Ledo.

Each ARO issue is divided into three parts: the first contains two or three articles; the second includes the column “Variedades” which offers news on a variety of subjects (publications, first performances, anecdotes about Rossini, etc.); and the third, the column “Gacetilla” which, in the main, contains reviews of concerts at the Sociedad Filarmónica Mexicana and at the Conservatorio, as well as in other venues such as churches.

ARO contains many articles giving detailed information about the Sociedad Filarmónica Mexicana and its affiliated Conservatorio; these occupy the core content of the journal. Other articles treat religious music, the connection between music and poetry, the skills required of a professional composer, musical pedagogy, the electric organ and the zarzuela. Biographical notes on Mexican composers Luis Baca and Joaquín Beristain, and on the French composer Boieldieu are supplied by Luis Muñoz Ledo. Gabino Feliciano Bustamante contributes seven articles the most notable of which deals with the physiological characteristics of the voice, the anatomical and physiological system of the ear, and Mexican opera. Bustamante’s writings supporting the creation of a national opera are published in La Armonía and are considered a significant antecedent to the nationalistic movement. The interest in this topic can be seen in the reviews of the first performance in Florence of Melesio Morales’s opera Ildegonda. Following performances of compositions by Beethoven, Schubert, and Chopin at the Sociedad Filarmónica Mexicana, the journal published remarks on early attempts to disseminate symphonic and chamber music repertoire in pianoforte arrangements.