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Gaceta Musical

(Paris, 1928-1929)

Prepared by Alejandro Gonzalez
Online only (2007)

A Spanish-language magazine with emphasis on the musical life of Latin America, Gaceta Musical [GAM] was published in Paris in 1928 under the editorship of the well-known Mexican composer, pianist and ethnomusicologist Manuel M. Ponce (1882-1948). Ponce published three musical journals, the first being the Revista Musical de México (1919-1920) which was followed by the Gaceta Musical. Despite the fact that Ponce occupied a prominent position in Mexican intellectual life between 1910 and 1925 he left Mexico to further his studies in Europe. He settled in Paris and studied composition with Paul Dukas. Ponce returned to Mexico in 1933 after which he published his third music journal, Cultura musical (1936–1937).

GAM published monthly issues from January to June (nos. 1-6) and in September (no. 9), one double issue for July-August (no. 7-8) and, one triple issue for the months of October-November-December (no. 10-11-12). The journal was sold in the main cities of Mexico and internationally. Each issue has continuous pagination beginning with number 1, and is between forty and sixty-eight pages in length. Issues are organized in two parts: the first contains from three to five articles on musical subjects; the second, reviews and notices about the musical activities of the principal cities of Europe and Latin America. Occasional illustrations are found in the journal including a photograph of the cellist Andrés Huvelin, and portraits of the composers Alberto Williams, Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky. Two issues contain musical supplements: a song by Manuel Ponce with words by Rabindranath Tagore was distributed with issue No. 7-8, and Alejandro García Caturla’s Danza Lucumi for piano was distributed with issue No. 10-11-12.

The journal focuses primarily on Spanish and Latin American topics but also deals with French music reflecting Ponce's interest at the time. Edited in Paris, the journal includes biographical sketches of Paul Dukas, Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel, and a number of articles about Claude Debussy’s life and work. Fairly extensive reviews of musical events in Parisian concert halls and theaters appear in each issue including a review of the inauguration of the new Salle Pleyel.

Many articles deal with contemporary Spanish music. Of particular interest are those discussing Manuel de Falla’s puppet opera El retablo de Maese Pedro and his opera La vida breve, and various essays commenting on the contemporary generation of composers including Felipe Pedrell, Isaac Albéniz, Rodolfo Halffter, Joaquín Turina and Enrique Granados, and lesser-known composers Salvador Giner, Oscar Esplá, Eduardo López Chavarri, Francisco Cuesta, Enrique Gomá, Manuel Palau, Rafael Guzmán and Rafael Alberti. An article by Spanish composer Antonio de San Sebastián pays tribute to the guitarist Andrés Segovia for his role in introducing the guitar to the concert hall. Other writings of interest on Spanish music include a review of Eduardo López Chavarri’s Música popular española, a catalog of music in the Biblioteca Medinaceli by J. B. Trend, Joaquín Rodrigo’s article entitled “Músicos valencianos,” and Joan Gilbert Camins’ article on music in Barcelona.

Ponce's well-known interest in Mexican folklore and other North American musical traditions is evident in GAM’s content, in articles by Rubén M. Campos on Aztec music (“Las danzas aztecas”), Carlos Lavin on chromaticism in indigenous South American music (“El cromatismo en la música indígena sudamericana”), Marguerite Béclard d’Harcourt's on Inca music (“Existe la música incaica?”), and Darius Milhaud on the origin of Negro spirituals and jazz (“La musica de los negros de la America del Norte”). The journal expands coverage to other South American countries with extensive articles on the folklore of Nicaragua, Cuban musical genres danzón and son and with a biography of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. Many reviews and reports deal with Latin American musical life including the international career of the renowned Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau. GAM also focuses attention on musical institutions, societies and performance venues in the Americas. Two columns appear regularly throughout the journal’s run: “La música en América,” reports on musical activities such as the Festival Latinamericano in Washington, D.C. the Unión Musical de Colombia, and musical life in major cities (Buenos Aires, La Havana, Mexico, Santiago de Chile, and Sao Paulo); and “Ecos”, which deals exclusively with news of performances of Spanish and Latin American musicians at home and abroad. Articles of international interest deal with musical life in Berlín, music in Romania, new music in Italy, the artistic profiles of pianists Harold Bauer and Wilhelm Backhaus as well as a biographical sketch of Russian composer Nicolas Medtner.

Among the main contributors to Gaceta Musical are the journal’s director Manuel M. Ponce and many distinguished composers he frequented during his stay at Paris such as the Chilean Carlos Lavín, the Spaniard Joaquín Rodrigo, and the French Gustave Samazeuilh, Paul Dukas, and Darius Milhaud. Other outstanding contributors include the French musicologist Marc Pincherle and the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier. Also among the journal’s contributors are prominent Spanish American men of arts and letters including the Spanish writer and historian Salvador de Madariaga, the composers Alfonso Broqua, Rubén María Campos, José Rolón, Adolfo Salazar, and Joaquín Turina. The list of French contributors is extensive and includes Henri Collet, Henri de Curzon, Henri Dupré, George Jean-Aubry, Roland-Manuel, and Henry Prunières.