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Revueltas was born in Santiago Papasquiaro in Durango, and studied at the National Conservatory in Mexico City, St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, and the Chicago College of Music. He gave violin recitals and in 1929 was invited by Carlos Chávez to become assistant conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, a post he held until 1935. He and Chávez did much to promote contemporary Mexican music. It was around this time that Revueltas began to compose in earnest. He began his first film score, Redes, in 1934, a commission which resulted in Revueltas and Chávez falling out. Chávez had originally expected to write the score, but political changes led to him losing his job in the Ministry of Education, which was behind the film project. Revueltas left Chávez' orchestra in 1935 to be the principal conductor of a newly-created and short-lived rival orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.
He was part of a family of artists, a number of whom were also famous and recognized in Mexico: his brother Fermín (1901–1935) and sister Consuelo (born before 1908, died before 1999) were painters, sister Rosaura (ca. 1909–1996) was an actress and dancer, and younger brother José Revueltas (1914–1976) was a noted writer. His daughter from his second marriage, Eugenia (born November 15, 1934), is an essayist. His nephew Román Revueltas Retes, son of José, is a violinist, journalist, painter and conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Aguascalientes (OSA). His daughter from his first marriage to Jules Klarecy (née Hlavacek), Romano Carmen (later Montoya and Peers), enjoyed a successful career as a dancer, taught ballet and flamenco in New York, and died on November 13, 1995, at age 73, in Athens, Greece. She is survived by three sons, and two kindred creative female heirs in Oceanside, California.
In 1937 Revueltas went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War, as part of a tour organized by the leftist organization Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR); upon Francisco Franco's victory, he returned to Mexico. He earned little, and fell into poverty and alcoholism. He died in Mexico City of pneumonia (complicated by alcoholism), at the age of 40 on October 5, 1940, the day his ballet El renacuajo paseador, written four years earlier, was premièred. His remains are kept at the Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres in Mexico City.
He appeared briefly as a bar piano player in the movie ¡Vámonos con Pancho Villa! (Let's Go With Pancho Villa, Mexico, 1935), for which he composed the music. When shooting breaks out in the bar while he is playing "La Cucaracha", he holds up a sign reading "Se suplica no tirarle al pianista" ("Please don't shoot at the piano player").
- El afilador, 1924
- Batik, 1926
- Four Little Pieces for String Trio, 1929
- Homenaje a Federico García Lorca, 1936
- Ocho x radio, 1933
- Planos, 1934
- String Quartet No. 1, 1930
- String Quartet No. 2, 1931
- String Quartet No. 3, 1931
- String Quartet No. 4, Música de feria, 1932
- Tres piezas, for violin and piano, 1932
- Éste era un rey 1940
- First Little Serious Piece, for chamber ensemble, 1940
- Second Little Serious Piece, for chamber ensemble, 1940
- Pieza para orquesta, 1929
- Alcancías, 1932
- Caminos, 1934
- Colorines, for chamber orchestra, 1932
- La coronela (orch. by Moncayo and arr. by Limantour)
- Cuauhnáhuac, for string orchestra, 1931; revised for full orchestra, 1931; revised again for full orchestra 1932
- Danza geométrica (orchestral version of Planos), 1934
- Esquinas, 1930
- Itinerarios, 1938
- Janitzio, 1933 (rev. 1936)
- Música para charlar, 1938 (from the film score of Ferrocarriles de Baja California)
- El renacuajo paseador, 1933
- Sensemayá, 1938
- Toccata (sin fuga), for violin and chamber orchestra 1933
- Troka, 1933
- Ventanas, 1931
- La coronela, 1940 (unfinished; a completion by Blas Galindo and Candelario Huízar lost)
- El renacuajo paseador, 1936
- Bajo el signo de la muerte, 1939
- Ferrocarriles de Baja California, 1938
- selections reworked as Música para charlar
- El indio, 1938
- La noche de los mayas (Night of the Mayas), 1939
- Redes, 1935
- ¡Vámonos con Pancho Villa!, 1936
- "Canto a una muchacha negra" (words: Langston Hughes), voice and piano 1938
- Cinco canciones para niños y dos canciones profanas, 1938–1939
- Duo para pato y canario, voice and chamber orchestra, 1931
- "Ranas" (Frogs) and "El tecolote" (The Owl), voice and piano, 1931
- Caminando, 1937
- Canción (a passage used also in Cuauhnáhuac)
- Avila, Jacqueline A. 2007."The Influence of the Cinematic in the Music of Silvestre Revueltas". DMA thesis. University of California (Riverside).
- Barnard Baca, Roberto. 2008. "The String Quartets of Silvestre Revueltas." DMA diss. New York: CUNY GC.
- Barnard Baca, Roberto. 2008. "Análisis de transformaciones en el cuarteto núm. 1 de Revueltas". Artículo. Guadalajara, MX[broken citation]
- Contreras Soto, Eduardo. 2000. Silvestre Revueltas: baile, duelo y son. Teoría y práctica del arte [México, D.F.]: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Dirección General de Publicaciones, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes. ISBN 970-18-3762-2
- Dean, Jack Lee. 1992. "Silvestre Revueltas: A Discussion of the Background and Influences Affecting His Compositional Style". Ph.D thesis. University of Texas at Austin.
- Espinosa, Sergio. 2001. "Silvestre Revuelta's Film for Redes". Ph.D. diss. University of Iowa.
- Garland, Peter. 1991. In Search of Silvestre Revueltas. Essays 1978–1990. Soundings Press.
- Hernández, Juan de Dios. 2009. "Nationalism and Musical Architecture in the Symphonic Music of Silvestre Revueltas". DMA diss. Tucson: University of Arizona.
- Hess, Carol A. "Silvestre Revueltas in Republican Spain: Music as Political Utterance" in Latin American Music Review 18, no. 2 (Autumn–Winter 1997):[page needed]. See http://www.jstor.org/stable/i231926 (subscription required)
- Hoag, Charles K. 1987. "Sensemayá: A Chant for Killing a Snake." Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 8, no. 2 (Autumn): 172–84.
- Hyslop, ,J. R. 1982. "An Analysis of Silvestre Revueltas's Sensemayá". DMA thesis. Bloomington: University of Indiana.
- Kaufman, Christopher. 1991. "Sensemayá: The Layer Procedures of Silvestre Revueltas". DMA thesis. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University.
- Kolb Neuhaus, Roberto. 2007. "El vanguardismo de Silvestre Revueltas:una perspectiva semiótica." Ph.D. diss. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
- Kolb Neuhaus, Roberto. 1998. Silvestre Revueltas. Catálogo de sus obras. Coyoacán, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Escuela Nacional de Música. ISBN 968-36-6909-3
- Kolb Neuhaus, Roberto, and José Wolffer (eds.). 2007. Silvestre Revueltas: sonidos en rebelión. México: UNAM, Escuela Nacional de Música. ISBN 970-32-3172-1
- Leclair, Charmaine Francoise. 1995. "The Solo and Chamber Music of Silvestre Revueltas." Ph.D. diss. Eugene: University of Oregon.
- Mayer-Serra, Otto. 1941. "Silvestre Revueltas and Musical Nationalism in Mexico." Musical Quarterly 27:123–45.
- Moreno Rivas, Yolanda. 1995. Rostros del Nacionalismo en la música mexicana: un ensayo de interpretación, 2nd edition. [México, D.F.]: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Escuela Nacional de Música. ISBN 968-36-4556-9
- Palencia Alonso, Héctor. 2000. "Voces magistrales: Silvestre Revueltas". In Conservatorianos: Revista de información, reflexión y divulgación culturales 6 (November–December): 25–29 (Archive from 2 November 2011, accessed 2 July 2014).
- Porrit, Peter. 1983. "Nationalism in Twentieth Century Mexican Music". DMA thesis. Berkeley: University of California.
- Revueltas, Silvestre. 1989. Silvestre Revueltas por él mismo: apuntes autobiográficos, diarios, correspondencia y otros escritos de un gran músico, compiled by Rosaura Revueltas. México, D.F.: Ediciones Era. ISBN 968-411-287-4
- Sanchez-Gutierrez, Carlos Daniel. 1996. ¨The Cooked and the Raw: Syncretism in the Music of Silvestre Revueltas". Ph.D. thesis. Princeton: Princeton University.
- Velazco, Jorge. 1986. "The Original Version of Janitzio, by Silvestre Revueltas." Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 7, no. 2 (Autumn): 341–46.
- Vondrak, Antonia. 2000. "Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940)". DMA thesis. University of Vienna.
- Wilson-Spinalle, Katheleen L. 1983. "Selected Solo Songs of Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas. DMA thesis. University of Arizona.
- Zohn-Muldoon, Ricardo. 1998. "The Song of the Snake: Silvestre Revueltas' Sensemayá." Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 19, no. 2 (Autumn): 133–59.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Silvestre Revueltas.|
- Silvestre Revueltas web site at National Autonomous University of Mexico ((UNAM)). (Spanish)
- Foro Virtual Silvestre Revueltas, UNAM. (Spanish)
- Del Sol Quartet: Tear includes Revueltas' Musica de Feria (1932) performed by Del Sol Quartet
- Silvestre Revueltas at Epdlp (Spanish)
- Peermusic classical : Composer Silvestre Revueltas at www.peermusicclassical.com Silvestre Revueltas' web site at Peer Music Classical.
- Silvestre Revueltas at www.wwnorton.com Silvestre Revueltas' web site at W.W. Norton.
- Free scores by Silvestre Revueltas at the International Music Score Library Project