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Cultura Musical

(Mexico City, 1936-1937)

Prepared by Alejandro Gonzalez
Online only (2008)

Cultura Musical (CMU) was published in Mexico City in eleven issues: once monthly from November 1936 to January 1937 and from April to October 1937, and as a double issue dated February-March, 1937. The size of the issues varies from twenty-eight to forty pages, each paginated separately beginning with the number one. Each issue is bound in a cardboard cover containing a table of contents and the names of the editorial staff and national and foreign collaborators. Four or five unnumbered pages containing advertisements of performers and music teachers conclude each issue.The articles are printed in single-column format, and the majority of articles are signed with the author’s proper name or initials. Strongly influenced by the idea of developing a national musical life, the journal’s goal was to report on the role of music and music education in the Mexican society. Cultura Musical was sponsored by the Conservatorio Nacional de Música de Mexico and published under the editorship of Manuel M. Ponce, an experienced musicologist, composer, pianist and pedagogue.

Issues consist primarily of three or four major articles followed by concert and opera reviews and miscellaneous news. While the journal contains a variety of articles dealing with music criticism, music theory, aesthetics, and performance practice, its main focus is on Mexico’s developing musical culture. Articles of Mexican historical and biographical interest include the biographies of nineteenth-century composers José María Bustamante and José Mariano Elízaga , and a tribute to the career of opera singer Angela Peralta. Articles on the history of music in México feature Jesús C. Romero on the first national music congress (“Apuntes para la historia del Primer Congreso Nacional de Música”), Gabriel Saldívar on music from the Colonial times (“Capítulos sueltos de la historia de la música en México, de los músicos que vinieron a la Conquista”), José Pomar on contemporary Mexican composers (“La situación de los compositores mexicanos”).

Of importance to understanding the state of music education in México are the journal’s reports on the curriculum and activities of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música de México (“Actividades educativas relizadas en el Conservatorio Nacional de Musica”), and a number of other articles dealing with the problems and development of the institution. The fomer Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas also writes about music education (“Decreto por el que se avala la declaración gratuita y obligatoria de la enseñanza del canto coral en los niveles primario, secundario y normal”).

Music, dance and the customs of the aboriginal peoples of Latin America are dealt with in six studies: by Sofía Cancino de Cuevas (“Danzas precortesianas y su supervivencia”), José E. Guerrero (“El arte precolonial”), Pedri Michacha (“El problema del nacionalismo musical”), Daniel Alaya al Lic. José Castillo Torre (“La musica Maya-Aborigen”), G. Salvinas Cossio (“La lirica peruana”), and an anonymous article about music in Ecuador (“El Ecuador, pais sin danza: El pueblo ecuatoriano bo baila”).

The reviews deal with opera productions of the standard repertory of works by Verdi, Rossini, Ponchielli and Puccini sung by a number of Mexican singers. Concerts of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional conducted by Carlos Chavez and Ernest Ansermet at the Palacio de Bellas Artes feature diverse works including Bach’s Magnificat and Honegger’s Le Roi David. Concerts by visiting foreign artists include the piano recitals of Alexander Brailowsky and American composer Paul Bowles. Special attention is paid to cover numerous concert performances in Mexico City as well as events in the provinces of Morelia, Queretaro, Veracruz and Monterrey.

The journal distributed a composition with each issue. Among them are Blas Galindo’s Sombra, Daniel Ayala’s Radiograma and José Pablo Moncayo’s Tiempo de danza, all for piano; Salvador Contreras’s songs “La Lámpara”and “Las cercas,” and Manuel M. Ponce’s Preludes for violoncello and piano and a Sarabande for piano.