Cook Music Library Digital Exhibitions

Film Music

Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940)

Violinist and composer, known more for his classical music work in pieces like Sensemayá and Homenaje a Federico García Lorca. He is particularly known for weaving together folk-like melodies and Mexican aesthetics like mariachi with western art traditions. His first film score was for Redes in 1935, one of the few Mexican film scores that has entered the classical music repertory as a suite. The film itself was reviewed poorly but critics, including Aaron Copland, praised Revueltas’s music. Revueltas went on to compose several other films, including El Signo de la Muerte before his untimely death in 1940.

Gonzalo Curiel (1904-1958)

Curiel was a Mexican Golden Age composer (just like Hollywood had a Golden Age from around 1930 to 1950 which cemented filmic standards and conventions, so did Mexican cinema). Curiel was active from around 1945 until his death in 1958, focusing on comedies, dramas, and action (especially crime and westerns).

Maria Grever (1885-1951)

Grever was born in Mexico to a Spanish father and Mexican mother. She moved to Europe and studied with several classical composers, notably Claude Debussy. She married an American and became a US citizen in 1916, living in New York, and began working as a film composer for Paramount and 20th Century Fox. She was primarily a song composer, writing some 800 boleros. Her most well-known song, “Cuando vuelva a tu lado” became popular with English version, “What a diff’rence a day makes” sung by Dinah Washington. The song ends up in hundreds of films, but one of the most popular is Lola rennt.

Joaquín Gutiérrez Heras (1927-2012)

Studied at the Mexican National Conservatory under Rodolfo Halffter and Blas Galindo; received a scholarship to study in France under the tutelage of Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen. He is one of the founders of the Nueva Música de México, or new music of Mexico, working in symphonic genres, chamber music, and film music, and won numerous Silver Goddesses and Ariel Awards for his film compositions. He is known for psychological dramas and thrillers, and often collaborated with Arturo Ripstein, José Estrada, and Jaime Humberto Hermosillo.

Lucía Álvarez (1948- )

Álvarez studied at UNAM with Arturo Márquez and Horacio Uribe. A stint in Italy in the mid-1990s gave her the change to study with the important film composer, Ennio Morricone. Álvarez has collaborated with several Mexican directors, including Juan Manuel Torres, Arturo Ripstein, and Jorge Fons, and has won several Ariel Awards for both her cinematic scores and songs in films.

Javier Álvarez (1956- ) (no relation to Lucia Álvarez above)

One of the most prolific living Mexican composers, known for blending genres, particularly electronic music and international music. He studied with Mario Lavista in Mexico before moving to the UK. His concert works like Temazcal (1984) and Mannam (1992 [winner of Prix Ars Electronica]) blend electronics and acoustics, particularly folk instruments like maracas and Korean zither. He broke into the film scene with Cronos, which was Guillermo del Toro’s premiere film.

Victor Hernández Stumpfhauser (1980- )

Hernández Stumpfhauser is one of the newer generations of Mexican film composers but is becoming prolific. He graduated from UNAM and has already been nominated for the Silver Goddess (Las Horas Contigo, dir. Catalina Aguilar Mastretta 2015) and won the Pantalla de Cristal Film Festival Best Original Score category for Me estás matando, Susana.  Listen to the score for this film on the composer’s soundcloud:

Musical selections available to authorized users through KanopyMedia Collections Online, SoundCloud, and YouTube.

Sponsored by the Latin American Music Center and Cook Music Library.