Ana Lara’s Epitafio

Born on November 30, 1959, Ana Lara is a Mexican composer, organist and writer. Unlike most child prodigies that we know of today such as Mozart, she did not begin her studies in composition until the age of 23 where she studied with Mario Lavista. Though not as well known as Lavista, Lara has been able to prove that she is a gifted composer in her own right and work featuring her work entitled De la Dulce mi Enemiga Mujeres Cervantinas, Epitafios y Otras Muerte. One piece that is very striking to me, from the Cd is the one title Epitafo meaning epitaph in Spanish. Epitafio from a collection of songs, Poemas del Don Quijote de la Manchade Miguel de Cervantes. The reason it strikes a chord with me is that it sound very similar to a song called Asturiana from a collection of songs by Manuel de Falla called siete canciones populares españolas. Asturiana, meaning Asturian or being from the Principality of Asturia and region in the northern coast of Spain has a similar quality to Epitafio.ana

The connection I hear between the two at first is in the treatment of the accompaniment. In both pieces it is treated very much like a string instrument such as a guitar. This “plucking” in the accompaniment can be heard throughout both pieces. Ana Lara’s piece in the recoding is heard on a piano while the de Falla piece Asturiana can be heard more easily on guitar. The the text of the two pieces is very different they may be interpreted in a similar fashion. In Epitafio,the singers talks of a gentleman (Don Quixote)who is injured and  was led by “Rocinante”, his horse. Also mentioned in this text is Sancho Panza who stays by the side of Don Quixote until the very end. In Asturiana , de Falla uses the words of Gregorio Martínez Sierra, in a similar somber feel to portray perhaps death??

To see if I was comforted, Arrive at a green pine, To see if I was comforted.

Because she saw me cry, I cried. And the pine was green, Because she saw me cry, I cried.

The text here leaves a lot up to interpretation. The return of the first line in each stanza could mean the character in the piece does not have very much time to live and may just want to get something off their chest but cannot. The odd addition of the lines in the middle of the stanzas about the green pine could also mean that the character is also slipping away into death. Though Lara’s piece does not mention anything “green” nor does de Falla mention a horse named “Rocinante” or Sancho Panza (Don Quixote’s companion), we can see a fairly similar somber thread between the two pieces through its accompaniment and haunting melody. So the question we ask why these odd similarities?

One reason and probably the most likely reason these pieces bear such striking similarities could be that they are of Spanish influence. This could make sense being that de Falla is from Spain but how would this explain Lara’s piece, Epitafio? Ana Lara had never visited Spain before, her most noticeable travels being to Italy and New York. Well, where would the influence have come from but from Spain itself. The story of Don Quixote comes from a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. This could have easily inspired Ana Lara to write such a Spanish influenced piece. I will post the videos I referenced below and let you decide.

-John Guevara






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