The wind music of Silvestre Revueltas: An annotated catalog and discussion of selected works

Date of Completion

January 2003


Music|Education, Music




Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940) has emerged as a unique voice in Latin American music of the twentieth century. Affected by the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920, Revueltas might be described as a musical nationalist and at the same time could be considered a modernist who was able to stylize folk elements in his music without quoting directly from them. ^ An unusual aspect of Revueltas' output is that a number of his most important works were written for ensembles either dominated by, or composed exclusively of, wind instruments. Remarkably, Revueltas never wrote a single symphony, concerto, opera, or sonata. Drawn to the modernist movement, and reluctant to write within traditional forms, he found that the sonorities of wind instruments adeptly reflected the poetic nuances or programmatic representations that he strived for in his music, which seems to embrace the vital, rough edges of folk idioms. Revueltas' wind music has not been examined in detail in earlier literature on the composer. ^ Chapter One describes musical life in Mexico at the time of Revueltas' birth and during his lifetime, and provides an overview of his childhood, musical education, and career. ^ Chapter Two surveys Revueltas' compositions and his compositional style. It also looks at how he uniquely uses the diverse colors of wind instruments in his music, in particular how sounds he might have heard in street bands (tamboras and mariachis) are revealed. These flavorful timbres that penetrate his music appear as bright, spirited motifs, often in many layers of simultaneous rhythms. ^ Chapter Three is a catalog of eighteen works of Revueltas which involve wind instruments, including details of publication and availability. It also gives brief analytical and descriptive illustrations of twelve of these pieces. In addition, performance issues from a conductor's perspective are addressed, which might aid in making decisions as to how Revueltas' music can fit into curricula and programming. ^ The Conclusion explores the educational benefits of performing Revueltas' music, addressing reasons why his music for winds might appropriately be included in a variety of college wind ensemble programs. This treatise also presents a comprehensive discography of recordings of Revueltas' wind music. ^