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Boletín Latino-Americano de Música

(Montevideo; Lima; Bogotá; Rio de Janiero, 1935-1938, 1941, 1946)

Prepared by Esperanza Berrocal (1935-1936, 1938, 1941),
Ana María Mondolo (1937), and
Maria Alice Volpe (1946)

Online only (2014)

The Boletín Latino-Americano de Música [BLA], the first scholarly periodical to be devoted to music in Latin America, was published from 1936 to 1946 in various South American capitals: volumes I (1935), III (1937) and V (1941) in Montevideo; volume II (1936) in Lima, volume IV (1938) in Bogotá and volume VI (1946) in Rio de Janeiro. All were published in Spanish, except volume VI, published mainly in Portuguese, with several articles in Spanish. The visionary force behind this monumental publication was Francisco Curt Lange (1903-1997), a German musicologist, who settled in Uruguay in the 1920s, and eventually became a Uruguayan citizen. Lange promoted americanismo musical, a movement that aimed to promote North and South American music and musicians through the cooperation of institutions and scholars in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. In this context Lange’s most important initiatives were the creation of the Boletín Latino-Americano de Musica, and the promotion of ideas underlying the americanismo musical which found immediate support in several South American countries and the United States. The size of the six volumes of BLA varies from 288 to 861 pages. The journal displays a consistent structure within each volume being divided into two parts: the first part with a number of sections containing in-depth studies [Estudios] dealing with the musical life of Latin American countries, the United States, Europe and Asia, and music-related subjects such as pedagogy, history, analysis and biographies of composers, and the second part, consisting of a musical supplement.

Volume I: Montevideo, Uruguay, 1935
In this volume, Lange focuses on the goal of the publication, namely the promotion of music of the Americas along the lines expressed in americanismo musical, highlighting the participation of many contributors from different parts of North and South America, and calling for the organization of a Latin American Music Congress. Lengthy musicological articles cover a wide range of Latin-American topics ranging from Josue Teófilo Wilkes’ writing on twelve seventeenth-century colonial songs, Doce canciones coloniales del siglo XVII, Luis Heitor Corrêa de Azevedo’s study on the life of Brazilian composer José Mauricio Nunes García (1767-1830), to the joint contribution of Hector L. Gallac and Juan José Castro on the compositional styles of contemporary Argentinean composer Juan Carlos Paz. In addition, the description of the Araucanian instrument trutruka by the Chilean Carlos Isamitt, is the first in a series of articles in BLA treating traditional Latin American musical instruments. Other articles treating Latin American subjects include Emirto de Lima’s essays on folk dances of Colombia, and an article on the music of the Incas by the Peruvian composer and ethnomusicologist Andrés Sas. Finally, there is a contribution by composer-musicologist Paul Amadeus Pisk offering an overview of composers of contemporary music active in Vienna.

There is also a section devoted to music pedagogy and aesthetics: Sarón Allende treats music education in the elementary and middle schools in Chile; composer Raul Espoile, deals with the cultural aesthetics among Argentina’s youth; Georg Gartlan discusses the efforts of Lowell Mason to establish music education in Boston public schools in the early nineteenth century. Lange offers an account of the pedagogical activities of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos from 1930 through 1934, a period in which the composer was immersed in his choral educational project (Canto Orfeónico), and a document on the aesthetics of music teaching in Uruguayan schools.

Volume II: Lima, Peru, 1936
In 1935, Lange lectured in Peru where he was invited by the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Latin America’s oldest university, to create a radio station. This volume includes contributions by a large number of prominent Peruvian scholars: César Arróspide de la Flor, Carlos Raygada and Andrés Sas. There is a lengthy report on the Sección de Investigaciones Musicales in Montevideo. The largest section of the volume is devoted to Latin American music. Among the most extensive are the three lectures Lange gave at the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos de Lima on americanismo musical, the use of radio to educate the general public and methods for collection of folk songs and dances and their use in art music. Among other notable contributions are ethno-musicological studies on indigenous instruments such as the Andean erque Bolivian sicus. The musicological studies range from surveys on Peruvian music to a more specialized analysis of Colonial music. For this volume, Lange secured the contributions of outstanding musicologists from Argentina (L. Giacobbe, H. L. Galliac, and J. T, Wilkes), from Bolivia (R. Paredes, González Bravo), Brazil (E. Freitas e Castro, P. Sinzig and B. N. Dos Santos) and Chile (C. Isamitt, H. Kock).

The second section is dedicated to the music of United States and contains an essay by Edward Royce on aesthetic trends in music composition in the United States, offering a thorough historical survey of composers from Edward MacDowell to William Grant Still and his contemporaries; articles by Helen Harrison Mills on the National Federation of Musical Clubs in the United States, by Ernesto La Prade on the role that radio music played in music education in the United States, and a comprehensive study about the activities of conductor Walter Damrosch. Contributions on European Studies treat contemporary music in Italy, England, the former Yugoslavia and Russia; and reports on international music festivals in Prague and Salzburg. A new section deals with Chinese music and instruments.

Volume III: Montevideo, Uruguay, 1937
Over five-hundred pages in length, this volume includes twenty-one articles treating Latin American topics. Among the Mexican contributions are the composers Manuel María Ponce and José Rolón, who discuss music history and musical organizations in their country, while the historian Ruben M. Campos provides a study on Mexican folksongs, and the lesser-known composer and pedagogue Juan León Mariscal contributes an essay on modern music in Mexico. Three articles on Venezuelan music by A. Briceño, Julio Morales Lara, Mario de Lara and M. L. Escobar treat classical and traditional music. Among the important Chilean contributors are Domingo Santa Cruz Wilson with articles on music education in Chile and on the creation of the Facultad de Bellas Artes in Santiago; Carlos Isamitt offers an essay on the history of instruments of the Mapuche Indians; Jorge Urrutia Blondel provides sketches on Chile’s music history; and María Aldunate reports extensively on the concert activities of the Asociación Nacional de Conciertos Sinfónicos (ANCS).

The diversity of topics treated in the Latin American music section includes articles by Luis Heitor Corrêa de Azevedo on the nineteenth-century Brazilian opera composer Carlos Gomes; Bernardo Canal Feijoo on Argentinian folk music; Nicolau Dos Santos on the modern tonal system (originally codified by Jean Philippe Rameau); Hector I. Gallac on the origin of the Andean instrument charango; and, S. Román Viñoly with a biography of Uruguayan composer Eduardo Fabini. A section on Latin-American plastic arts includes Lange’s article on Cecilio Guzmán de Rojas (1899-1950), a Bolivian painter best known for his depiction of the recent massacre of the Chaco War (1932-1935); and José Nucete Sardi (1897–1972), a historian, journalist and diplomat, who provides an historical overview of Venezuelan painting and sculpture. The section on music in the United States treats educational issues including Charles Newell Boyd on the American Music Teachers’ National Association; Frederic Benjamin Stiven’s report on music education in high schools and universities. The section on European music includes articles by Ernst Křenek on 'new music', Alois Hába on quarter-tone and sixth-tone scales, and Paul Pisk on Austrian contemporary music.

Villa-Lobos writes an extensive report on the activities of the Superintendência de Educaçâo Musical e Artística (S.E.M.A.) between 1932 and 1936, giving detailed information on the concerts given by the Orpheons in Brazil. Lange’s addresses the role of the radio, choral singing and many important aspects of teaching music. Sections six through eight deal with other aspects of Latin American music ranging from reviews of concerts featuring Latin American repertory to music publications in Latin America, to significant materials held at the archive in Montevideo’s Sección de Investigaciones Musicales, directed by Lange. Part six also includes reviews of concert activities in Argentina (Asociación Sinfónica and Grupo Renovación in Buenos Aires, and the Coral Argentina in Rosario); the activities of Brazilian music critic and musicologist Mario de Andrade (Coral Paulistano, Orquesta Sinfónica y Sociedade de Cultura Artistica de São Paulo); in Cuba (Orquesta Da Camera de La Habana), and Uruguay (Arte y Cultura Popular at the Universidad de Montevideo). Section eight lists the contents of the library of Uruguayan León Ribeiro, donated to Montevideo’s Sección de Investigaciones Musicales.

Volume IV: Bogotá, Columbia, 1938
Volume IV treats Latin American music only: an article on Guillermo Espinosa and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia; the history of the first Ibero-American Music Festival celebrated in Bogotá; notes on the history of Cuban music by Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes; an essay on the music of the Nazca period by Peruvian composer and historian Andrés Sas; studies on Pre-Columbian music by Mexican musicologist Vicente Mendoza, indigenous music from the Colombian Amazon; an essay on music theory by Daniel Castañeda; and biographical notes on the Colombian composer Guillermo Uribe Holguín and the Spanish harpist Nicolás Zabaleta; and José Ignacio Pérdomo Escobar’s writings on the history of music in Colombia treating musical activities from Pre-Colombian times to the 1930s.

Volume V: Montevideo, Uruguay, 1941
Volume V’s content is principally about music of the United States with a short section on Latin American music. For this volume, Lange engaged as associate editor Charles Seeger. Part I includes forty-four articles on music in the United States: reports by Marshall Bartholomew on the foundation and activities of the Yale Glee Club; by Otto Kinkeldey on musicology in America; and by Warren Dwight Allen on professional music organizations in the United States; In addition, composer Aaron Copland writes on music in Hollywood motion pictures; and Henry Cowell on music among primitive peoples. Other subjects range from indigenous music and folk music, to ballet, music pedagogy, music therapy, music documentation (especially libraries), jazz, opera, radio, bands, among other topics. Part II contains twelve articles by notable Mexican historians including Daniel Castañeda on Mexican popular music during the Revolution; Vicente Mendoza on the song Canción de Mayo and on the dances jarabes (both articles are richly illustrated with musical examples), and Otto Mayer Serra on composer Silvestre Revueltas and musical nationalism. Other contributions deal with musical subjects from Argentina, Chile and Cuba: a report on music education in Uruguay by Francisco Curt Lange and the biography of Cuban composer Alejandro García Caturla.

Volume VI: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1946
Volume VI contains a fascinating glimpse of the extensive musical history and culture of Brazil. Part I, contains two editorial reports followed by twenty-four articles with historical and ethnographical approaches, as well as some assessments of the then current state of musicians’ intellectual schooling, and music education at elementary schools in Brazil. Curt Lange contributes the two editorial reports which provide unique information about the conception and foundation of the Instituto Interamericano de Musicology, with full transcription of official documents, and four articles on the history of Latin-American musicology. The breath of Curt Lange’s thinking is further exposed in the Prologue, in which he reflects on the consequences of the Second World War on Brazilian musical life, provides an assessment of Mário de Andrade’s pioneering role in setting up systematic research on Brazilian folk music, and comments on current projects and accomplishments by other researchers, institutions, and regular publications concerning Brazilian music in general (art, popular, folk, and Indigenous). Most of the nine scholarly articles deal with Brazilian folk music and dance, all based on fieldwork done in the 1930s and 1940s: dramatic dances, maracatu, frevo, cateretê, Afro-Brazilian drumming, cabaçal instrumental ensemble, fado (Luso-Brazilian song), blind beggars songs, and the African influence on Brazilian music. Urban popular music is approached by one article about the pianeiro (popular player piano) and composer Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934). There are scholarly articles dedicated to art music, of which two are dedicated to Villa-Lobos’ style and technique of piano playing and harmonic features of his compositions; two articles about Brazilian religious music, one on the recent discovery of the music of Minas Gerais from the Colonial period, and another on the composers José Maurício Nunes Garcia (1767-1830), Henrique Oswald (1852-1931), Alberto Nepomuceno (1864-1920), Francisco Braga (1868-1945), Glauco Velasquez (1884-1914) and Villa-Lobos. Two articles address Portuguese religious music (plainchant); and another considers Brazilian chamber music as performed by music societies and composers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There are two articles on Brazilian musical life, a third on Brazil and cultural relations through music with the United States, and a fourth containing Villa-Lobos’s appreciative essay about the composer Lorenzo Fernândez.

All volumes, except volume V, are amply illustrated, and all volumes, except volume II, include a musical supplement containing previously unpublished compositions by North and South America composers.