Silvestre Revueltas

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Silvestre Revueltas
Revueltas in 1930
Revueltas in 1930
Background information
Birth nameSilvestre Revueltas Sánchez
Born(1899-12-31)December 31, 1899
Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango, Mexico
DiedOctober 4, 1940(1940-10-04) (aged 40)
Mexico City, Mexico
Occupation(s)Classical composer, violinist and conductor
NationalityMexican and American
EducationNational Conservatory of Mexico City
St. Edward's University of Austin
Chicago College of Music
Spouse(s)Jules Klarecy and Eugenia
RelativesFermín, José Revueltas (brothers), Consuelo and Rosaura (sisters) Román Revueltas Retes (nephew)

Silvestre Revueltas Sánchez (December 31, 1899 – October 5, 1940) was a Mexican composer of classical music, a violinist and a conductor.


Silvestre Revueltas

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.[1] Revueltas left Chávez's orchestra in 1935 to be the principal conductor of a newly created and short-lived rival orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.[citation needed]

Silvestre Revueltas

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 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. 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).[citation needed]

Tomb of Silvestre Revueltas in the Panteon Civil de Dolores cemetery in Mexico City

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);[2] 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 premiered. His remains are kept at the Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres in Mexico City.[citation needed]


Revueltas wrote film music, chamber music, songs, and a number of other works. His best-known work is the 1960 arrangement by José Yves Limantour [es] drawn from Revueltas' film score for the 1939 film La noche de los mayas,[3] although some dissenting opinions hold that the orchestral work Sensemayá is better known.[4] In any case, it is Sensemayá that is considered Revueltas's masterpiece.[5]

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 the pianist").[6]


Chamber works[edit]

Orchestral works[edit]

  • Pieza para orquesta, 1929
  • Cuauhnáhuac, for string orchestra, 1931; revised for full orchestra, 1931; revised again for full orchestra 1932
  • Esquinas, 1931 (rev. 1933)
  • Ventanas, 1931
  • Alcancías, 1932
  • Colorines, for chamber orchestra, 1932
  • Janitzio, 1933 (rev. 1936)
  • Toccata (sin fuga), for violin and chamber orchestra 1933
  • Troka, 1933
  • Caminos, 1934
  • Danza geométrica (orchestral version of Planos), 1934
  • Sensemayá, 1938
  • Itinerarios, 1938
  • Música para charlar, 1938 (from the film score of Ferrocarriles de Baja California)


  • El renacuajo paseador, 1936
  • La coronela, 1939 (unfinished; orch. by Moncayo, arr. by Limantour; also completed by Blas Galindo and Candelario Huízar, lost)

Film scores[edit]


  • Duo para pato y canario, voice and chamber orchestra, 1931
  • "Ranas" (Frogs) and "El tecolote" (The Owl), voice and piano, 1931
  • Caminando, 1937
  • "Canto a una muchacha negra" (words: Langston Hughes), voice and piano 1938
  • Cinco canciones para niños y dos canciones profanas, 1938–1939


  • Adagio
  • Tragedia en forma de rábano (no es plagio)
  • Allegro
  • Canción (a passage used also in Cuauhnáhuac)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Huscher, Phillip (May 13, 2010). "Program Notes – Suite from Redes (Nets)" (PDF). Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
  2. ^ Hess 1997, [page needed].
  3. ^ Hernández 2009, 19.
  4. ^ Clark 1999, 240; Estrada 1982, 191; Hoag 1987, 173; Morris 1996, 280; Velazco 1986, 343
  5. ^ Contreras Soto 2000, 62.
  6. ^ In Palencia 2000, 26, Revueltas' appearance in this scene is cited as an example of his sense of humor.
  7. ^ James Reel. Música para charlar, concert version of film score for orchestra at AllMusic


  • Clark, Walter Aaron (1999). "The Music of Latin America". In Julio López-Arias; Gladys Varona-Lacey (eds.). Latin America: An Interdisciplinary Approach (3rd ed.). New York: P. Lang. pp. 233–253. ISBN 9780820434797.
  • Contreras Soto, Eduardo (2000). Silvestre Revueltas: Baile, duelo y son. Ríos y Raíces. México, D. F.: Teoría y Práctia del Arte. ISBN 978-970-35-0436-7.
  • Estrada, Julio (Autumn–Winter 1982). "Raíces y Tradición en la Música Nueva de México y de América Latina". Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana. 3 (2): 188–206. doi:10.2307/780136. JSTOR 780136.
  • Hernández, Juan de Dios (2009). Nationalism and Musical Architecture in the Symphonic Music of Silvestre Revueltas (DMA). Tucson: University of Arizona.
  • Hess, Carol A (Autumn–Winter 1997). "Silvestre Revueltas in Republican Spain: Music as Political Utterance". Latin American Music Review. 18 (2): 278–296. doi:10.2307/780398. JSTOR i231926. (subscription required)
  • Hoag, Charles K. (Autumn 1987). "Sensemayá: A Chant for Killing a Snake". Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana. 8 (2): 172–184. doi:10.2307/780097. JSTOR 780097.
  • Morris, Mark (1996). A Guide to 20th-century Composers. London: Methuen. ISBN 9780413456014.
  • Palencia Alonso, Héctor. 2000. "Voces magistrales: Silvestre Revueltas"[dead link]. In Conservatorianos: Revista de información, reflexión y divulgación culturales 6 (November–December): 25–29 (Archive from 2 November 2011, accessed 2 July 2014).
  • Velazco, Jorge (Autumn–Winter 1986). "The Original Version of Janitzio, by Silvestre Revueltas". Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana. 7 (2): 341–346. doi:10.2307/780220. JSTOR 780220.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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, Mexico[full citation needed]
  • 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.
  • Fanning, Richard. 2006. "The Rhetorical Use of the Trumpet in the Music of Silvestre Revueltas, An Introduction". DM document. Indiana University.
  • Garland, Peter. 1991. In Search of Silvestre Revueltas. Essays 1978–1990. Soundings Press.
  • 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. 2006. "El vanguardismo de Silvestre Revueltas: una perspectiva semiótica". DHA 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. 2014. "La noche de los mayas: crónica de una performance de otredad exótica". Trans (Revista Transcultural de Música), no. 18 (October). ISSN 1697-0101 (accessed 16 July 2017).
  • 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." The Musical Quarterly 27:123–145.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Teibler-Vondrak, Antonia. 2011. Silvestre Revueltas: Musik für Bühne und Film'. Wien: Böhlau Verlag. ISBN 9783205787679
  • 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): 133–159.

External links[edit]