|Birth name||María Joaquina de la Portilla Torres|
|Born||September 14, 1885|
León, Guanajuato, Mexico
|Died||December 15, 1951 (aged 66)|
New York City, New York
María Grever (14 September 1885 – 15 December 1951) was the first female Mexican composer to achieve international acclaim. She is best known for the song "What A Difference A Day Makes" (originally "Cuando vuelva a tu lado"), which was popularized by Dinah Washington and has been covered by numerous artists.
María Joaquina de la Portilla Torres was born to a Spanish father (Francisco de la Portilla) and Mexican mother (Julia Torres) in León, Guanajuato. For the first six years of her life she lived in Mexico City, moving to her father's natal city, Sevilla, in 1891. She studied music in France, with Claude Debussy and Franz Lenhard among her teachers. In 1900 she moved back to Mexico and continued her musical studies at her aunt's solfège school. In 1907, the then 22-year-old de la Portilla married Leo A. Grever, an American oil company executive, and in 1916 became a U.S. citizen and moved to New York City, where she lived for the rest of her life.
Grever wrote more than 1000 songs — the majority of them boleros — and her popularity reached audiences in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. She was said to have possessed perfect pitch and wrote most of her songs in one key. Her first piece of music, a Christmas carol, was composed when she was four years old. She wrote her first song when she was 18 years old, "A Una Ola" (To a Wave), and it sold three million copies.
Grever once said: “I had to leave my country, and now in New York, I am interested in Jazz and Modern Rhythms, but above all, in Mexican Music, which I long to present to the American people. I am afraid they don't know much about it. It is music worth spreading; there is such a cultural richness in Mexican Music (its Hispanic and indigenous origins and how they mix) where melody and rhythm merge. It is my wish and yearning to present the native rhythms and tunes (of Mexico) from a real perspective, but with the necessary flexibility to appeal to the universal audience."
Grever's first international hit was "Júrame" (Promise, Me), a habanera-bolero interpreted in a masterly manner by tenor José Mojica. Other hits continued to follow, such as "Volveré" (I Will Return); "Te quiero dijiste" (I love you, you said), written for the 1944 Esther Williams film Bathing Beauty, as well as "Cuando vuelva a tu lado" (When I Return To Your Side as recorded by Nestor Mesta Chayres) and "Por si no te vuelvo a ver" (In case I don't see you again). Other songs of hers include "Tipitipitin" (recorded as "Ti-Pi-Tin by the Andrews Sisters), "Para Que Recordar", "Ya No Me Quieres", "Tu, Tu y Tu" (as recorded by Mexican tenor Juan Arvizu in 1928), "Que Dirias de Mi", "Eso Es Mentíra", "Mi Secreto", "Dame Tu Amor", "Una Rosa, Un Beso", "Despedida", "Asi" , Chamaca Mía, Todo Mi Ser, and "Alma Mia".
Grever died in 1951 in New York after a prolonged illness. At her request, her remains were transported to Mexico City.
Posthumous tributes and success
Her songs have been covered internationally by a variety of artists:
- In 1953, Argentine singer-actress and Latin American star Libertad Lamarque portrayed Grever in Cuando me vaya (When I Leave), a biopic directed by Tito Davison. Three years later, Lamarque released a best-selling tribute to Grever's most popular songs titled Libertad Lamarque canta canciones de Maria Grever.
- In 1959, Dinah Washington recorded "Cuando vuelva a tu lado" under the title "What A Difference A Day Makes" with English lyrics. The recording won a Grammy Award in 1959, and in 1998 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
- In 1964, operatic tenor Alfredo Kraus recorded "Júrame" on his album "Siboney."
- In 2018, operatic soprano, Ailyn Perez performed "Júrame" live for WFMT in Chicago.
- On February 11, 2021, Google celebrated her with a Google Doodle.
- Rodríguez, Lee M. L. María Grever: Poeta Y Compositora. Potomac, Md: Scripta Humanistica, 1994. Print.
- Pedelty, Mark (3 June 2009). Musical Ritual in Mexico City: From the Aztec to NAFTA. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292774186. Retrieved 16 February 2019 – via Google Books.
- "María Grever". IMDb.com. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- "Victor matrix BVE-40023. Jurame / José Mojica – Discography of American Historical Recordings". Adp.library.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- "Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado". Retrieved 16 February 2019 – via Internet Archive.
- Juan Arvizu; Maria Grever (26 December 1928). "Tu, Tu y Tu (You, Only You)". Retrieved 16 February 2019 – via Internet Archive.
- Juan Arvizu; Maria Grever; E. Vigil y Robles (25 January 1929). "Chamaca Mia (Sweet Girl of Mine)". Retrieved 16 February 2019 – via Internet Archive.
- Nestor Chayres; Maria Grever; Isidor Handler y su Orquesta. "Todo Mi Ser". Retrieved 16 February 2019 – via Internet Archive.
- "Maria Grever, 57, A Composer, Dies; 'Ti-Pi-Tin,' 'Besame,' 'What a Difference a Day Makes' Among Her Successes". nytimes.com. A. G. Sulzberger. 16 December 1951. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
- "Cuando me vaya". IMDdb.com. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
- RCA Victor MKL 3020 Mono LP
- "Alfredo Kraus, Latino's Songs, Siboney – Jurame – Lamento Borincano by Kraus, Alfredo". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
- "Soprano Ailyn Pérez performs Live at WFMT « Ailyn Pérez". ailynperez.com. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
- "Celebrating María Grever". 11 February 2021 – via Google.
|You may listen to Grever's Todo Mi Ser as sung by Nestor Mesta Chayres in 1947 here|
- SlideShare.net – María Grever Biografía (Spanish)
- The Art Music of Mexico and Guatemala – Maria Grever (1894–1951) Biography and Images
- María Grever recordings at the Discography of American Historical Recordings.
- 1921 passport photo of Maria Grever and her children
- Recordings of performances of boleros composed by María Grever as archived on Archive.org
- O Grande Amor De María Grever 1954 Leg – Biographical film of María Grever with Mexican Tenors Juan Arvizu and Nestor Mesta Chayress in performance on Archive.org