Between assimilation and resistance of western musical culture: Traces of nationalism on José Pablo Moncayo’s Viola Sonata.
Jimenez, Tonatiuh G.
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Throughout the first half of the twentieth century in Mexico, a nationalist movement emerged out of two predominant cultural processes: assimilation and resistance. This movement inspired a generation of Mexican composers to create a musical richness that exists between the tension and contradiction that are exposed in their nationalist compositions. Among other musical currents, nationalism dominated the art-music scene in the first half of the twentieth century in Mexico, causing some of the composers to introduce folk elements such as rhythms, melodies, and native instruments alternating with Western traditional forms. Best known for his orchestral work Huapango, José Pablo Moncayo's catalogue of works remains forgotten for the wider audience even in Mexico. A member of the “Group of Four” along with Blas Galindo, Salvador Contreras, and Daniel Ayala, Moncayo was an outstanding pupil of Carlos Chávez and had a significant career as a conductor. This dissertation explores how José Pablo Moncayo’s Viola Sonata combines sonata form with folk elements. The composer created his own style by following principles from his mentor Carlos Chávez who advocated a return to pre-Conquest musical ideals. I examine the work by analyzing its form, and other compositional procedures that were delineated through the musical idea of pandiatonicism, a term coined by the musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky. I state that this early sonata in Moncayos’s catalogue can be considered as pursuing a validation from Mexican nationalism as a subjective evocation of a remote past, the Aztec music.