I’ve posted this video before, but this is such a fun piece that I think those who enjoyed Ginastera’s Estancia might like this one, too. José Pablo Moncayo (1912-1958) was a hugely talented Mexican composer who died all too soon. He was a protegé of the distinguished Mexican composer and conductor Carlos Chávez. He also studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood.
His orchestral piece Huapango has such popularity in Mexico that it is seen as almost a third national anthem. It was premiered in 1941 at Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes under the baton of his teacher, Carlos Chávez. (That imposing French Second Empire pile of a concert hall, which I have attended a concert in, boasts a Tiffany stained glass curtain!) It is inspired by the Mexican folk music of the Mexican state of Veracruz, though it does not actually quote any actual Mexican folk songs. It is nationalist music of the best kind. Moncayo, like Bartók and Smetana before him, as well as his contemporary Heitor Villa-Lobos of Brazil, was so impermeated with the music of his native country that it sounds very naturally Mexican. In Smetana’s cycle of tone poems, Má vlast, the big tune of the movement “Vltava” which everyone assumed was Czech has turned out to be the Swedish song “Ack Värmeland du sköna”. Smetana had spent a few years in Sweden, so he certainly knew the tune.
Again, here is Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar National Youth Symphony of Venezuela, this in performance at the London Proms.