Silvestre Revueltas at the UNAM

Until recently, Silvestre Revueltas was known for only a few of his scores, which were heard again and again. With few exceptions, the works selected to be performed or recorded were those of the “painter of Mexican scenes and landscapes” or the composer of film scores, rather than those created by the inventor of a modern and innovative music, which many now consider to be his most significant contribution. It was precisely this other side of Revueltas that came to light when the composer’s daughter, Eugenia Revueltas, initiated her investigation into the archive of manuscripts that are currently in her care. She discovered a wealth and variety of genres and languages, calling into question many of the assumptions that determined how the composer and his work were interpreted and historicized. Thus emerged the image of a rebellious, experimental, avant-garde Revueltas, very different from those of the solemn and vehemently Mexican artist or the bohemian genius—personas that had been diligently shaped by historians and pedagogues over the course of half a century.

This other Revueltas—possessed of a wide-ranging aesthetic palette and one of the most original music styles in twentieth-century Latin America—has been the object of study and the focus for the efforts and interpretative creativity of a growing number of researchers, performers, historians, and musicologists at the UNAM for a few decades now. The earliest initiatives included new lines of investigation by Yolanda Moreno Rivas and Julio Estrada, and the organization (in cooperation with CENIDIM, the National Center for Musical Research, Documentation, and Information) of the First International Silvestre Revueltas Colloquium in 1996. Following this, several formal research projects into Revueltas’s music were funded by the DGAPA (General Direction of Academic Personnel Affairs), and it was in this context that the idea of creating the Digital Library (SRDL) emerged. This university’s systematic work on Revueltas began with the compilation and publication of a catalogue of the composer’s work, laying the groundwork for an integral critical edition of Revueltas’s works. Several years were invested in preparing and developing this ambitious musicological venture, which resulted in the publication of his earliest scores. The centennial of the composer’s birth in 1999 motivated the organization of the Second International Silvestre Revueltas Colloquium. These initiatives have furthered public interest in the composer’s life and works, and numerous studies have now been published.