Academic music in Colombia: a forgotten tradition


In 1894, in the pages of the influential Grey Magazine, the young violinist Narciso Garay regrets the absence of "national composers" in our country and calls for the need for "a Chopin to purge the national airs", while admitting that the only way is through the "constant treatment with classical authors and renowned for attempting to assimilate the essence of modern musical beauty." Garay, who belonged to a family of professional artists (grandson of a fine sculptor and cabinetmaker and son of Epifanio, the painter), puts on the table the two alternatives that would be the crossroads for Colombian musicians of this century: Universalism and nationalism.

However, perhaps this was not the real dilemma. If we ask what they knew to professionals (or amateurs) of music a hundred years ago, we have to answer that knew more or less playing instruments and that these were old and unmaintained and obsoleted majority. They had heard Beethoven and Schumann little and probably never Wagner. Pianists knew Henri Herz and Chopin, Liszt and some other instrumentalists were just a little beyond the parts of scores of opera. The school who knew concerning the European music was opera and dance music. Its tradition was that of religious, diptychs, lamentations music and salves that babbled in the style of Stabat Mater by Rossini and joyous carols, remnants of colonial culture, which accompanied with bandolas and guitars and singing enthusiastically and even with true conviction religious. So what what universalism and nationalism? The first barely knew the other was just budding.

The truth is that only in the early twentieth century began to experience an international repertoire of European music different from dancing or transcripts of operatic pieces for piano, marches and bright Band and simple pieces instrumental works of authors who today do not listed in any dictionary. The local music had the hall as instrumental stronghold, for piano and chamber ensemble, and as model bambuco song. Pedro Morales Pino had started new trends, adopting the Spanish estudiantina format strings as instrumental and inspirational cult poetry as text. Like Emilio Murillo made using the virtuosic clothes for your hallways and in response to complaints from Garay and many others. Hallways and bambucos, beloved of social gatherings and literary circles, were "national music", which for many was the music par excellence, the one who had.

In 1910, Murillo was the first Colombian musician in recording in the United States, even before perfecting the new orthophonic system, and when they met (corridors, bambucos, the national anthem) in Bogota, Uribe Holguin organized concerts with music by Fauré, Grieg and Debussy, Lalo and a few months later and finally Wagner Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky. The forces were matched and the controversy over the national music was rekindled in the pen of intellectuals with the backdrop of the Great War.

In the second half of the twenties begins to transform the Colombian music scene with attempts of national political integration and consolidation of the media, aviation, newspapers and magazines, then radio, and later the creation of market disk. These and transformer enthusiasm of the new liberal governments saw proliferate songs, dances, halls, American dance music (fox-trots, two-steps, etc); used parts stoked the national fervor in the war with Peru and at the end of the decade in Costa came porro and Fandango as the national counterpart to the renowned Cuban dance music.

The establishment of Discos Fuentes in Cartagena and its combination with an orchestra and a station following the American model had great impact and soon succeeded in Bogotá the camp opened to these new types of entertainment.

TV opened other musical horizons, and young people sought models in rock and Latin American and international pop; there emerged Speakers and Oscar Golden, but also other young alternated twist, Palito Ortega and Paul Anka with composers of Spanish and Italian renaissance, thanks to student clubs Cantores, following the model of the American university choir, they were founded in several cities (Bogota, Bucaramanga, Barranquilla and Cali). These changes failed to touch the fundamental problem, the lack of musical options in primary and secondary education, strengthening vital in any musical environment. Medellin not only excelled in the textile industry: the field of records was also theirs (with participation of coastal enterprises); thanks to good promotion schemes and distribution, manages to integrate a market for Colombian music of all kinds, joints, corridors and bambucos, pasodobles and vallenato incipient and late sixties, new trends as dance music "cachaquizada" of Graduates or Hispanics. A net growth of the entertainment industry and the advancement of broadcasting allowed this expansion, which in those years exploded with the great orchestras of Lucho Bermudez, Pacho Galán and Edmundo Arias, as with vallenato as regional gender claims national in the seventies. The national pop achievements obtained with the works of Ana and Jaime, good combination of texts and compelling musicality.

The Conservatory and musical institutions in the country have been involved in this process and did not. The prejudices of those who oriented and false premises of paternalistic nationalism was not allowed to give training musicians that nobody had left over, or the musician or the band member of the estudiantina or salsa or rock group. Those continued to produce very few instrumentalists quality and composition followed oriented nationalisms of all kinds, indigenism of Jesus Pinzon Urrea, atonal incursions and serial "to Ginastera" and universalist and abstract tendencies such as Roberto Pineda Duque or Germán Borda .

The last two decades have seen the continuation of these processes framed by increasing globalization and dependence on international trends. The situation has improved in quality and popular music seems to be a link between this and musical institutions as the rock, salsa and jazz instrumentalists now have better training.

So many things have happened in the development of music in Colombia. Whenever you walk by in Colombia music is all around, but with all this information once again we can ask, what happened with all the history? Did we lose a part of these development with the influences of the last decade? Why did we lose the enjoyment of the music made in Colombia by academics?

Manuela Pulido

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