Revueltas thoughts. The sarcastic and the serious man.


Ivan Lopez

After reading some of the Silvestre Revueltas autobiographical notes, I could notice that the impetus of this passionate musician took was to raise his voice through his relief about the musical situation in Mexico across the first half of the 20th century. A forthright voice where he believes that desires contribute and boost in the musical situation of his country. Most of the time a sarcastic voice strikes those people who are responsible for the catalog or development of the musical context in Mexico, especially the critics. Sarcasm is the favorite way of Revueltas to show to the readers the problems that have damaged the great job of some of his colleagues. However, we can also see, in a smaller amount, a serious man who stand defending those who consider him the main idealist of the Mexican art.

Full of great courage, Revueltas constantly attacked critics, sometimes hiding their truth in satirical paragraphs, and other times being very clear and direct. A comparison of himself speaking about the critics of the publicists in 1937 and then another publication later, show us a Revueltas that has refined his comments and fed them with his sarcasm. In the chapter “About the criticism” he doubts of the capacity of advertisers to deal with music themes. (Revueltas,1937)

 “Creo que el juicio basado en una relación sentimental o intelectual, personalísimo, ante la obra de arte, solo tiene valor constructivo o educativo en relación con la capacidad intelectual, con la honradez y probada competencia artística de quien lo expresa. Esta capacidad, esta honradez y competencia difícilmente pueden ser juzgadas por quienes no están, o no estuvieron, en directo contacto – que son la mayoría-  con la manifestación artística; para ellos, el juicio impreso, y precisamente por serlo, ya en diarios o libros, es un valor autorizado.” (1937).

I think that judgment based on a sentimental relationship or intellectual, very personal, in front of the piece of art, only has constructive value or educational regarding with intellectual capacity, with honesty and proven artistic competence of who expresses it. This capacity, this honesty and competence can hardly be judged for those who are not, or they weren’t, live contact – which are the majority- with the artistic manifestation; for those, the printed judgment, and precisely because it is, already in newspapers or books, is an authorized value.

Revueltas repeatedly mentions how it has been messed up, with the public opinion in the musical context in Mexico. Years later, he published “En defensa y elogio de la crítica” In defense and praise of criticism. Using phrases like:

 “he decidido salir en defensa de la crítica musical Mexicana, tan incomprendida, tan menospreciada”

I have decided to leave in defense of the Mexican musical critique, so misunderstood, so less precise

” noble mision que ilumina el alma de los publicos con la luz de las verdades refutables”

Noble mission that illuminates the soul of the public with the light of refutable truths.

Words that Revueltas referred to the critic: Man of deep-seated actions. Immaculate purity of intentions.Ignited love to art.Deep knowledge. And others.

In the first chapter, Revueltas used his sarcastic language to disconcert the reader. Sometimes we do not know wheter to speak seriosly or not about seriousness. In the second one, use the word Shadow to refer to musicians, or rather to bad musicians. And the shadows to refer to the followers of the shadow. ( pages 181 and 182).

However, Revueltas talks about de Mexican Music:

s “envuelta en sedas importadas de los bulevares europeos, música hecha a base de diminutivos empalagosos, tan alejada de la realidad dolorosa y palpitante de las masas como una recepción diplomatica o un aristocratico sarao.”

Wrapped in imported silks of the European boulevards, music made with cloying diminutives, so far from the painful and throbbing reality of the masses as a diplomatic reception or an aristocratic sarao.

A little bit harsh with his colleagues but always with a hope of improvement:

 “Yo todavía tengo la pretension pueril de ver nuestro ambiente musical y nuestros músicos en un nivel major y en mejores condiciones de trabajo. Pero sin mangoneadores, sin genios ni anunciantes”

I still have the puerile pretension to see our musical environment and our musicians at a higher level and in better working conditions. But without people who dominate, or geniuses or advertisers.

When Revueltas mentioned the Orchestras in Mexico we can see the pride of his share:

 “Nuestras orquestas en México siempre han sido, por nuestras condiciones especiales de educacion musical, un lugar de entrenamiento y capacitación para nuestros músicos.”

Our orchestras in Mexico have always been, for our special conditions of musical education, a place of training and training for our musicians.

 “La orquesta es el único recurso de alta educación musical que tiene el estudiante en México para tener listas, limpias, aceitadas, las armas de nuestra profesión.”

The orchestra is the only resource of high musical education that the student has in Mexico to have lists, clean, oiled, the weapons of our profession.

Within all this text full of sarcasm and fury towards the people who, according to him, have stopped the musical progress of our country, there are some positive details that we must recognize like the companions that he admired, such as Baqueiro Foster, who is referred to as the most genuine investor like an encyclopedia;  Jacobo Kostakowsky who he mentions as a great musician; Francisco Contreras , who he describes as the only professor who knows very well how to teach; Jose Pomar , Luis Sandi Ricardo Ortega, among others.

 “Hay obras limpias y hombres limpios trabajando” (1938)

There are clean works and clean men working.

 Also, Revueltas mentioned that Carlos Chavez organized the activity and the musical production of Mexico, and pushed the development of Mexican music.

Then we not only have the words of a sarcastic Revueltas trying to nag the advertisers or the public, but there is a man with convictions and desires to contribute and educate Mexican people. A man proud of his comrades, his orchestras, his way of facing the changes of 20th century, his sarcasm and who is hard with those who do not share the same ideology. But sincere and loyal to his own way of thinking, his peers and his people. His words full of poetry reflect a revolutionary leader trying to get closer to a better future of the music scene in Mexico.


Revueltas, Silvestre Revueltas por él mismo: apuntes autobiográficos, diarios, correspondencia y otros escritos de un gran músico.



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