The differences and similarities between Carlos Chavez and Silvestre Revueltas in violin pieces compositions


The differences and similarities between Carlos Chavez and Silvestre Revueltas in violin pieces compositions


I started my search with the Silvestre Revuelta’s piece the “ 3 Piezas para Violin y Piano”. Since he was a violinist I was expecting to see a very long and detailed  composition for violin with many different Mexican styles and rhythms as we can find in his orchestral compositions. It is common   for example to see  the  violins sections  in thirds playing some kind of mariachi style, but since this one  would be a violin piece I was expecting maybe some very virtuosistic mariachi followed for atonal sections.  I have to say that I got surprised to figure out that  the “ 3 Piezas para Violin y Piano by Silvestre Revueltas ” are actually very small pieces that we can even call 3 movements maybe, with a fast allegro first movement duration 2:59 min, a very slow second movement duration 4:38, and again a fast and virtuosity third movement with the duration of 9:58 and the total of almost 17 min.

The first movement starts with the piano playing the note A in a  compulsively  and dramatic rhythm followed by the violin who starts with abruptly minor second intervals  playing more rhythmic things. When  the melody started in the measure 6 it became difficult for the violin because Revueltas left instruction asking  for playing everything in the G string. At  this point it have different time signatures and it is very fast with difficult rhythmic and in a very high and unusual position with many  atonal notes. In general I can say  from experience it is kind of  difficult to get together with the piano and play in tune.

The second movement really surprised me for being very calm and actually with a beautiful melody (not that much atonal anymore) for the pianist is very simple repeating almost always the same notes, and I would even say it reminds me a Chinese  music  style with some similarities with the “Chinese violin- Erhu ”, so totally not Mexican or atonal.

The third movement it came backs to the atonal and fast rhythmic, but much more fast and difficult then the first movement with even small cadence for the violin when it came back to the allegro.

The Carlos Chavez piece that I decided to write about is the “Sonatina for Violin and piano”,  very small with only 7:00 minutes. I could not find the score for this one, and I got surprised since Carlos Chavez was not a violinist but he decided to write something more melodic and normal as a Sonatina and not 3 small pieces like Revueltas and  even being atonal still a little more melodic and less rhythmic  then the Silvestre Revueltas piece, starting with a very beautiful melody with different colors and intensity. After this slow beginning a new section maybe a allegro much more fast with a lot of energy and chords with  double stops for the violin,  getting more and more crazy and energetic until a soundly stop. It comes back then to a slow section starting again after a while with the first theme that we already listened at the very beginning but now in a very large octaves section, this is  extremely difficult to play in tune for the violinist.

For me it was very interesting realize how different they were for their violin compositions,  for both of then I had different expectations  after studying a lot  about their lives, and they were able to surprise me with different things. I was expecting Silvestre Revueltas to wrote something more melodic and Mexican if we think about  his story in other pieces and as violinist but he decided to focused  more in rhythmic and atonal things. For Carlos Chavez I was expecting this piece to be more atonal  and crazy since he was a composer, but he  starts the piece with a very  melodic  not that much atonal and maybe introspective melody  and even the fast section is much more energetic and virtuositic then the Silvestre Revueltas   piece, so I can conclude both of them were trying new things with this pieces and getting out of their comfort zone exploring new possibilities and sonorities




Contreras,Guillermo,Silvestre Revueltas Genio Atormentado:Grabados Taller de Grafica Popular Mexico,1954.

Becerra,Gabriela. Cartas Intimas y Escritos de Silvestre Revueltas: La Universidade 957, Fondo de Cultura Economico de Mexico: Mexico,1982.


Mayer-Serra, Otto. “Silvestre Revueltas and Musical Nationalism in Mexico.” The Musical Quarterly 27, no. 2 (1941): 123-45.

Parker, Robert. “Revueltas in San Antonio and Mobile.” Latin American Music Review / Revista De Música Latinoamericana 23, no. 1 (2002): 114-30.



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