Silvestre Revueltas music archive
Following Silvestre Revueltas’s sudden death in 1940, his sister Rosaura Revueltas took charge of the archive of documents and musical manuscripts. She made the first efforts to catalogue the material and also reached the first publishing and distribution agreements with several U.S. publishers. The archive remained in her possession until shortly after her death, when it passed into the hands of the composer’s daughter. The archive that Rosaura received did not include all of the composer’s scores. It’s a well-known fact that many (if not most) performances of Revueltas’s music were done directly from his autographs or original manuscripts. So it is unsurprising that certain chamber music scores (two of his quartets and several songs) have reappeared in other archives, or remain missing. The same is true of certain orchestral scores. Fortunately, the archive preserves a large number of documents associated with the autographs—copies done by other hands, photographs, instrumental parts, sketches, and so forth—that make it possible to reconstruct most of the incomplete scores. Today, there are very few that are entirely unknown.
The standards outlined by RISM (Répertoire Internationale des Sources Musicales, or International Inventory of Musical Sources) served as a model for cataloguing documents associated with each of Revueltas’s works. These standards have been adapted as necessary to fit the specific characteristics of the corpus (Silvestre Revueltas’s musical archive) and of one digital consultation service (the Silvestre Revueltas Digital Library, or SRDL). Following are the cataloguing criteria that were applied:
Title, subtitle, version
This section contains information related to the work’s title; subtitle, if there is one; version, when there are two or more by the same name; and the author of the texts, in the case of vocal works.
Untitled autographs are catalogued as such. When more than one title is found in a work’s documentary corpus, the title on the autograph is recorded as the main one and the others as parenthetical. When different versions have titles of their own, the autograph’s title is considered to be the main one and those of other versions are included in parentheses.
Subtitles are by the composer when italicized.
Cataloguing by genre is particularly problematic in the case of Revueltas’s music, given that his modernist stance seems to have led him to avoid conventional genres. This is especially evident when examining the subtitles that the composer assigned to many of his scores, describing them as “pieces,” “scenes,” “fragments,” or simply “music”—characterizations that elude any traditional category of genre.
To contend with this problem, the SRDL has opted to use genre concepts based on the instrumentation and function of individual works. According to this criterion, music is listed according to instrumental genre (e.g. chamber music, music for small orchestra, music for symphony orchestra) or purpose (e.g. music for the stage, revolutionary songs). Given that many pieces were used for something other than their original function, such as music for film or stage that later appeared in concert programming, a work may be listed under both categories in the DFL: according to its original function and to its purely instrumental version.
Place and date of composition
The place and date of composition are recorded as they appear in the autograph. However, this information is incomplete or missing from some scores. Where we have been able to estimate but not confirm the likely place and date of composition, this information appears with a question mark. When it has been confirmed from other sources, it appears between square brackets.
Dedications are logged as written by the composer, and as such, in cursive writing.
All available information about the premiere is recorded, including place, date, performers, and where relevant, conductor.
The duration of the works is noted in minutes and is always approximate.
The orchestration of the works is included in the traditional order. Following are the abbreviations used:
With regard to vocal music, it bears noting that with few exceptions, Revueltas never specified the vocal tessitura, and instead used the ambiguous indication “voice” or “voices.” Given that it’s not always possible to discern the author’s intentions regarding tessitura with any certainty, the SRDL has reproduced his indications as they appear in the manuscripts. Tessituras suggested between square brackets correspond to the voices of singers who premiered the songs, which were presumably the intended ones.
This refers to all materials forming part of the musical archive that Revueltas left after his death and which make up the SRDL’s corpus. It includes autographs, draft scores, sketches, and instrumental parts, as well as reproductions of the same materials, including Photostats (negatives printed on photographic paper), photographs, photocopies, and transcriptions done by different copyists. Listed in this section are all the documents that may be consulted on the SRDL, and the headings they are found under (autograph, draft score, sketch, version, instrumental parts, or other documents). Documents deriving from Revueltas’s manuscripts—for example, transcriptions done by a copyist—are gathered under the heading “Other documents.”
These provide complementary information about the documents included in the SRDL.
Texts by Revueltas about the work
Revueltas wrote notes on a number of his compositions, generally including them in the concert programs. As many as we have been able to compile, are transcribed here.
Periodical and epistolary references
This is a partial list of periodical and personal correspondence references contained in the archive or in different publications.
Published works are listed according to the corresponding publisher.