A Man of His Time

Composer Carlos Chavez string quartets influenced by the Mexican Revolution

Published on LatinoLA: January 12, 2003

A Man of His Time

Carlos Chavez was a renowned composer, conductor, educator, and administrator whose distinctive, often highly percussive music synthesized elements of Mexican, Indian, and Spanish-Mexican influence. A prolific writer of music, Chavez's works include five ballets, seven symphonies, four concertos, a cantata and opera, numerable pieces for voice, piano, and chamber ensembles. His career must be viewed against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and its resolution.

In 1921, the year of the String Quartet No. 1, Ch?vez met Jose Vasconcelos, the man responsible for launching the international careers of many of the great Mexican muralists. Ch?vez was good friends with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo, and the late Manuel ?lvarez Bravo also photographed him.

Ch?vez and Rivera collaborated in 1926 on the ballet Caballos de Vapor (Horsepower), which received its theatrical premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1932 with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Leopold Stokowski. Siqueiros painted an impressive oil portrait of Ch?vez that was donated to the Mexican Museum of Contemporary Art. Tamayo and Ch?vez shared an apartment together across the street from Lincoln Center in New York City for their many trips into Manhattan.

His quartets chronicle this time period in his career.

Ana Ch?vez, the composer?s daughter, has graciously allowed Southwest Chamber Music permission to illustrate these performances and recordings of her father?s complete string quartets with portraits never seen outside of her family.

There are two by Diego Rivera (from 1932 and 1946), and one each of Siqueiros (1947) and Tamayo (undated, but probably from the late 1960s to early 70s). Mrs. Ch?vez remembers, for example, Rivera bringing one of these drawings to her father?s birthday party in 1946. According to his daughter these quartets are being performed together probably for the first time in the US.


Friday, February 7 at 8 p.m.
Open Rehearsal, Ch?vez The Complete String Quartets
Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena

Saturday, February 8 at 8 p.m.
Ch?vez String Quartet No. 1 for 2 Violins, Viola & Cello
String Quartet No. 2 for Violin, Viola, Cello & Dbl. Bass
Fuga H-A-G-C for Violin, Viola, Cello & Dbl. Bass
String Quartet No. 3 for 2 Violins, Viola & Cello
Norton Simon Museum Theater, 411 W. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena

Also, Tuesday, February 11 at 8 p.m.
Colburn School of Performing Arts, 200 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles

call 626-685-4455 or email mail@swmusic.org for ticket information
also check our website at http://www.swmusic.org

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