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Music Library Thematic Displays: Hispanic Heritage Month

This guide showcases resources from the George F. DeVine Music Library centered on specific themes. Selected themes reflect UT School of Music events and programs, as well as cultural celebrations.

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Digital Audio Resources

About Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic band playing instruments on a stage with a purple background

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to American society and culture and honors five of our Central American neighbors who celebrate their independence in September (National Hispanic Heritage Month, 2020).

President Lyndon Johnson issued the first law to celebrate Hispanic Americans and the anniversaries of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as Mexico’s independence on September 16 (National Hispanic Heritage Month).

In 1987 U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed the observance be expanded to cover its current 31-day period. Torres wanted more time so that the nation could “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement" (

History and Significance 

Map of the U.S.A with population density statistics of the Hispanic population in America

An estimated 19.5% of the total population of the United States is of  Hispanic and Latino origin according to the 2020 Census. This is about 62 million people who come from Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or another Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. There are about 21,000 people of Hispanic origin in Knox County.

Celebrating this part of American history began in 1968 as National Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and was expanded to span from September 15 to October 15 by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Indigenous People's Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

Featured Hispanic Composers!

Leo Brouwer tuning his guitar in front of white background(b Havana, March 1,1939). Cuban composer, guitarist and conductor.

In 1953 he began his studies in the guitar with Isaac Nicola, founder of the Cuban guitar school, and in 1955 he made his performance début. In the same year, and self-taught, he started to compose (e.g. Música para guitarra, cuerdas y percusión and Suite no.1 for guitar); his first works were published in 1956. He was awarded a grant (1959) for advanced guitar studies at the music department of the University of Hartford and for composition at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, where he was taught by Isadora Freed, J. Diemente, Joseph Iadone, Persichetti and Wolpe. In 1960 he started working in cinema, as head of the department of music in the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC); he has written scores for more than 60 films. He was involved in setting up (1969) and running the Grupo de Experimentación Sonora at ICAIC, becoming the teacher and mentor of its members, who included Silvio Rodríguez, Milanés and other important figures of contemporary Cuban music. He worked as musical adviser for Radio Habana Cuba (1960–68) and for other Cuban institutions, and taught counterpoint, harmony and composition at the Conservatorio Municipal in Havana (1960–67). His book Síntesis de la armonía contemporánea was a core text in his classes.

Together with the composers Juan Blanco and Carlos Fariñas and the conductor Manuel Duchesne Cuzán, Brouwer launched the avant-garde music movement in Cuba in the 1960s. He has been the most significant promoter of the bi-annual Havana Concurso y Festival de Guitarra, and in 1981 he was appointed principal conductor of the Cuban National SO. He has also conducted many other foreign orchestras including the Berlin PO and the Orquesta de Córdoba, Spain, which, under his direction, was formed in 1992. He is a member of the Berlin Akademie der Künste, of UNESCO, of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes Nuestra Señora de la Angustias in Granada (1996) and Honoris Causa Professor of Art at the Instituto Superior de Arte de Cuba (1996). For his contribution to the Cuban and international music scenes he was awarded the Orden Félix Varela, the highest honour granted by the Cuban state for culture.

Three phases can be identified in Brouwer’s work: the first, nationalistic (1955–62); the second, avant-garde (1962–7); and a third in which avant garde elements diminish and, particularly after 1980, a creative process described by the composer as ‘new simplicity’ emerges. The first phase is characterized by the use of traditional musical forms, including sonata and variation form, and by tonal harmonic structures rooted in nationalism (e.g. in Homenaje a Manuel de Falla (1957), Tres danzas concertantes (1958) and Elegía a Jesús Menéndes (1960), among others). During this phase, despite the prevailing use of tonality, a tendency to structural fragmentation may be discerned, as well as the employment of several simultaneous tonal centres, a device that has remained throughout his output.

Though never lacking formal rigour, Brouwer’s works have in general sprung more from a sonic conception: ‘I use any form to help me find musical forms: that of a leaf, of a tree or geometric symbolisms. All these are also musical forms; despite the fact that my works appear very structured, what interests me is sound’. This concentration on the sensory, and an accompanying use of extra-musical formal sources, is most to the fore in Brouwer’s second phase, which was, with the Cuban avant garde in general, heavily influenced by the Polish school; he first heard this music at the Warsaw Autumn in 1961. Variantes for solo percussion and in particular Sonograma I for prepared piano typify this phase, which also included a brief turn towards serialism, in works such as Sonograma II and Arioso (Homenaje a Charles Mingus). Basic materials frequently comprise intervals of the 2nd, 4th and 7th and chords of superimposed 6ths, 9ths, 11ths and 13ths. Complex polyphonic textures dominate, with thematic independence retained within the different planes of sound, and a resultant richness in rhythmic conjunction. Other common devices include pedals, ostinatos, sequences and melodic and rhythmic echoing. One of Brouwer’s most important avant-garde works, which has become a major piece of the guitar literature, is the solo Elogio de la danza (1964). In two movements – Lento and Ostenato – it was originally composed for dance with choreography by Luis Trápaga; it makes reference to primitive dances and to mysticism, and conveys an image of stamping feet and gyrations together with other dance elements.

Between 1967 and 1969 such works as Rem tene verba sequenturCántigas del tiempo nuevo and La tradición se rompe …, pero cuesta trabajo approach what would now be the postmodern, characterized by sharply defined contrasts in structure and texture and employing references to various historical periods. In La tradición se rompe …, pero cuesta trabajo, for example, the interpolation and superimposition of elements of such composers as Bach and Beethoven in a suggestive heterophony borders on caricature; further, the participation of the audience is invited with a persistent ‘sh’. All this is integrated into a process of thematic and instrumental development that evolves through a powerful, controlled aleatorism.

In the 1970s Brouwer continued to work on post-serial and aleatory ideas, for instance in La espiral eterna for guitar. But by the 1980s a ‘new simplicity’ had begun to take hold, involving neo-Romantic, minimalist and newly tonal elements. There is a marked lyricism in this third period, the use of varying nuclear cells to generate development, and the return of traditional forms exemplified in works like Canciones remotasManuscrito antiguo encontrado en una botella and La región más trasparente.

Rodríguez, Victoria Eli. "Brouwer (Mezquida), Leo." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.


Hilda Paredes headshot

(b Puebla, Mexico, Sept 22, 1959). Mexican composer .

Firmly established as one of the leading Mexican composers of her generation, Hilda Paredes has been based in London for almost 40 years. Musicians, singers and conductors frequently praise the perfect balance she achieves between brilliant compositional technique and a keen sensibility for the particular instruments and individuals for whom she writes.

While there is a testimony of constant collaboration with Mexican poets and artists in her works, she also draws inspiration from music and cultures from around the world. Her music has been acclaimed by the critics for the refinement of her craft, marked by the intensity of the relationship between time, dramatic force and poetic approach.
The versatility of her work is manifest in a catalogue that includes a wide range of electroacoustic works created at IRCAM, at SWR Experimentalstudio and at CIRM, where the electronics of her widely celebrated opera Harriet, Scenes in the life of Harriet Tubman, were created. After the premiere at the Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, the Dutch critic, Joep Stapel, placed Harriet as the number one Best Classical Music of 2018. In 2019, Hilda was awarded a prestigious Ivors Composer Award for this work.
In addition to this award, Paredes has been honoured with a number of international accolades, including Music Theatre Now, the PRS for Music Foundation, J.S. Guggenheim Fellowship, Rockefeller, Fund for Culture Mexico/USA, and the Fellowship from Sistema Nacional de Creadores (FONCA) in Mexico.

Hilda Paredes’ music has been commissioned and performed by many prestigious ensembles, orchestras and soloists including Trio Arbós, Arditti Quartet, Aventure, Collegium Novum Zurich, Contrechamps, Court Circuit, Ensemble Intercontemporain, L’Instant donné, Hilliard Ensemble, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Recherche, Ensemble Signal, Grup Instrumental de Valencia, ICE, London Sinfonietta, Lontano, The New Julliard Ensemble, Neue Vocalsolisten, Plural Ensemble, Taller Sonoro, Psappha, Ensemble Phoenix Basle, MDi Ensemble, Orchestra di l’Arena de Verona, RTE, OFUNAM, Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, amongst many others.
Her works have been presented by such prominent international festivals and venues as the Wigmore Hall, Huddersfield Contemporary Music and Edinburgh Festivals in the UK; Eclat and Ultraschall in Germany; Festival D’Automne a Paris, Musica and Octobre en Normandie in France; Wien Modern and Klangspuren in Austria; Akiyoshidai and Takefu Music Festivals in Japan; Archipel in Switzerland; De Ijsbreker Chamber Music Festival in Amsterdam; Warsaw Autumn in Poland; Ultima in Oslo; Melbourne International Music Festival in Australia; June in Buffalo, the Composer Portraits Series at Miller Theatre NY, and Festival of Arts and Ideas in the USA, Ars Musica in Bruxelles; Festival de Alicante, Festival de Música Religiosa de Cuenca and ENSEMS Festival in Spain; and Festival Internacional Cervantino in Mexico.
Paredes continues to be involved in the musical life of her native Mexico as a composer and teacher and was also radio producer of new music.
Much in demand as composition tutor and lecturer, Hilda is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Buffalo and at other distinguished Universities in the US. She was the Darius Milhuad Professor at Mills College and at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona as well as at Manchester University and at Centre Acanthes in France.

After studying composition at the Conservatoire in Mexico City with Mario Lavista, she was an active participant in master classes at Dartington Summer School, studying with Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle and Richard Rodney Bennett. She was also a student at Franco Donatoni’s Masterclasses at the Academia Chighiana. Paredes graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and subsequently obtained her Master of Arts at City University in London, and later completed her PhD at Manchester University under Prof. John Casken.

Allen, Phillipa. “Hilda Paredes Biography.” HILDA PAREDES,

Carlos Chavez looking down at his composition on a table

(b Mexico City, June 13, 1899; d Mexico City, Aug 2, 1978).

 Mexican composer, conductor, teacher, writer on music and government official. His role in the musical and cultural life of Mexico was decisive during the second and third quarters of the 20th century. In a career spanning more than 50 years, he composed more than 200 musical works, conducted numerous orchestras in the USA, Latin America and Europe, held important government positions in the arts in Mexico, and lectured and wrote extensively about music and its place in the social milieu. Three broad stylistic tendencies pervade his music: Mexicanism, both pre-Conquest and modern; a mélange of brittle dissonance, angular melody, atonality and polytonality; and a conservative leaning toward classical forms, moderation of dissonance, and tonality.

The compositions from before 1921, mostly for piano, are essentially Romantic, with Schumann as a detectable influence. These juvenilia also include piano arrangements of Mexican songs, and so prefigure two main musical interests of Chávez's maturity: traditional genres (sonata, quartet, symphony, concerto) and nationalistic leanings. These two strands are also represented in two works of 1921: the First Quartet and El fuego nuevo. Throughout the next two decades, nationalist and other works appeared side by side, but the former constituted less than a quarter of his output. Thus there was no ‘nationalist period’, but rather a Mexican tendency that was manifested strongly in El fuego nuevo, reached its height in the 1930s, and was evident only sporadically thereafter. This tendency gave rise to works of considerable diversity. A populist aspect is represented by the ‘proletarian symphony’ Llamadas and the ‘Mexican ballad’ El sol (both for chorus and orchestra) and by the Obertura republicana (later retitled Chapultepec), an arrangement for orchestra or band of three types of Mexican popular music: a provincial march, a ‘nostalgic’ waltz and a revolutionary canción. Such works expressed solidarity with the post-Revolutionary cultural ideology. His first two ‘Aztec’ ballets (the second being Los cuatro soles) exalted Mexico's pre-Hispanic heritage in a way that aligned with the prevailing nationalism, and the same is true of the Sinfonía india (Symphony no.2), though this is one of the few works by Chávez to quote actual Indian themes. It is also one of his most arresting works, melodically, harmonically and rhythmically: a combination of modernism and primitivism such as is encountered again in the Piano Concerto, where the primitive elements are less explicitly thematic.

When Chávez wrote music evocative of pre-Hispanic culture, he made a careful study of indigenous instruments and of the accounts of ancient music encountered by early Spanish historians. He employed an array of folk instruments – most of them percussive, but including primitive flutes – in the Indian ballets. But his most systematic attempt to evoke the character of pre-Conquest music was in the brief Xochipilli (1940), subtitled ‘An Imagined Aztec Music’, for four winds and six percussion players. It requires various Indian drums, among them the teponaxtle, a two-tongued wooden slit-drum, and the huéhuetl, a large upright drum, as well as rasps made of wood and of bone, and a trombone simulating the conch trumpet.

Among Chávez's most characteristic works are the four Solis (1933–66). Soli III and IV are for small wind groups, in which each instrument has the solo part in one movement; Soli III is for orchestra with four soloists. In Soli IIII and IV the guiding principle is again non-repetition, the avoidance of conventional sequence and recapitulation in favour of continuously unfolding new musical ideas. Whether in his more traditional works, in his originally conceived pieces such as the Solis and late orchestral works or in the extraordinarily varied works of Mexican character, Chávez's achievement established him as one of the major Latin American composers of his time. His efforts were integral in bringing Mexico's music into the 20th century and out to the rest of the world.

Parker, Robert. "Chávez (y Ramírez), Carlos." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Alberto Ginastera looking over a piece of music.

(b Buenos Aires, April 11, 1916; d Geneva, June 25, 1983). Argentine composer. His original creative achievement established his position as one of the leading 20th-century composers of the Americas.

Born to Argentine parents of Catalan and Italian descent, Ginastera showed promising signs of musical ability and began to take music lessons at the age of seven. Five years later he enrolled in the Conservatorio Williams, graduating in 1935 with a gold medal in composition. The following year he entered the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, studying harmony with Athos Palma, counterpoint with José Gil, and composition with José André. An auspicious opportunity came in 1937, when Juan José Castro premiered the composer’s Panambí suite (derived from the homonymous ballet) at the Teatro Colón. This performance, which took place while Ginastera was still a student, revealed a work of rhythmic verve and orchestral brilliance, establishing his reputation as an Argentine composer of significance. One year later he completed his training at the Conservatorio Nacional, receiving a professor’s diploma for his Psalm 150, which he submitted as a graduation piece.

His teaching career began in 1941 when he joined the faculties of the Conservatorio Nacional and Liceo Militar General San Martín. On 11 December of that year he married Mercedes de Toro, with whom he had two children, Alexander (b 1942) and Georgina (b 1944). His circumstances in Argentina remained stable until 1945, when the Perón government forced his resignation from the Liceo Militar for protesting the dismissal of a group of faculty that included his close friend and colleague, Juan José Castro. He took advantage of a Guggenheim grant (received in 1942 but postponed during the war) to travel to the USA with his family, where he remained from December 1945 until March 1947. There he visited Juilliard, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Eastman music schools and heard performances of his works by the NBC Orchestra, Pan American Union, and League of Composers. He benefited from the guidance of Copland, whom he had previously met in 1941, participating in his Tanglewood composition course, absorbing his aesthetic ideas, and forging a close personal friendship.

Classic studies of Ginastera’s music divide his creative production into three stylistic periods based on the composer’s own criteria. According to this system, Ginastera associated his first artistic phase, ‘objective nationalism’ (1934–47), with the Argentine landscape (especially the pampas or plains region) and with his direct appropriation of national elements within a predominately tonal means. In his second creative stage, termed ‘subjective nationalism’ (1947–57), he continued to employ an Argentine musical language within a tonal or polytonal setting, but alluded to vernacular elements in a sublimated form. During his third musical period, ‘neo-Expressionism’ (1958–83), he affiliated with experimental aesthetics (including dodecaphony, serialism, and magic surrealism) and accorded nationalism a limited role. Even though Ginastera formulated this periodization himself, it has raised numerous concerns. The composer constructed this self-categorization during the late 1960s, excluding a large body of his works from consideration. He never revised this classification in print, even though he continued to compose for 15 more years. A careful examination of his late music moreover reveals that this repertory is far from monolithic. Beginning with his Puneña no.2 (1976), Ginastera applied complex post-serial techniques to recreate the spirit of the Americas as exemplified in its collective indigenous heritage. It is therefore reasonable to add a fourth period, ‘final synthesis’ (1976–83) to account for the composer’s integration of tradition and innovation in his final works. Nevertheless, the periodization of Ginastera’s music remains a complex issue that allows for multiple interpretations. Sottile (2007) advocates maintaining the composer’s three classic periods but dividing his final creative phase into two subperiods (1958–73, 1973–83), to reflect his renewed engagement with vernacular sources. Alternatively, Scarabino (1996) divides Ginastera’s work into two style periods, articulated by the presence or absence of tonality. Finally, Kuss (1986, 2002) argues for a single overarching period that emphasizes continuities in the composer’s creative production.

Schwartz-Kates, Deborah. "Ginastera, Alberto." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Manuel Ponce sitting at desk looking into camera holding a pen

(b Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Dec 8, 1882; d Mexico City, April 24, 1948). Mexican pianist and composer. He was the leading Mexican musician of his time, and made a primary contribution to the development of a Mexican national style – a style that could embrace, in succession, impressionist and neo-classical influences.

Born into a musical family, Ponce began his studies with his sister Josefína and went on to study with Cipriano Ávila. Around 1893 he joined the choir at S Diego, Aguascalientes, where he later became assistant organist (1895) and organist (1898). Between 1900 and 1901 he studied in Mexico City with Vicente Mañas (piano) and Eduardo Gabrielli (harmony). The latter encouraged him to continue his studies in Europe and offered to introduce him to Marco Enrico Bossi, director of the Liceo Musicale in Bologna, where he duly arrived in 1904 with the intention of studying composition. Bossi introduced him to Cesare Dall’Olio (Puccini’s teacher) who became his teacher for a few months. Also in Bologna he met Torchi, whose friendship and lessons undoubtedly determined Ponce’s subsequent career as an editor and musicologist. In December 1905, following the death of Dall’Olio, he moved to Berlin, where he decided to continue studying the piano with Martin Krause. However, financial circumstances forced him to return to Mexico in January 1907.

Although he is best known internationally for his song Estrellita, Ponce’s work embraces a whole spectrum of genres and styles. An obviously eclectic composer, he could integrate a variety of tendencies and styles, ranging from the Romanticism of his first piano works to the almost atonal language of his Sonata for violin and viola or the bitonality of his Quatre pièces for piano. At the same time he was Mexico’s first nationalist composer, though his musical language later evolved away from Romanticism, nationalism and the use of popular Mexican themes towards a more personal and contemporary style. He wrote a large number of works reflecting his preoccupations with style, such as his six guitar sonatas (Clásica, Romántica, de Paganini, Mexicana etc.), his preludes and fugues on themes by Bach and Handel (which fall within the neo-classical tradition), his works in Spanish style (Diferencias sobre las folía de España) or his works inspired by Cuban music (Suite cubana, Elegía de la ausencia). The influence of the impressionists is also evident, especially in Chapultepec, a symphonic poem which marked him as one of the most important exponents of American impressionism.

Pérez, Ricardo Miranda. "Ponce (Cuéllar), Manuel." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Books in the Collection!

Compact Disks in our Collection!


"The 22nd Annual festival celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month," HoLa Hora Latina, accessed September 15, 2022,

"National Hispanic Heritage Month," Hispanic Heritage Month, Library of Congress, accessed September 15, 2022,

“Leo Brouwer.” Leo Brouwer London Masterclasses & Interview with John Williams, International Classical Guitar, 20 Apr. 2017, Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

“Manuel Ponce .” Wikipedia, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

“Two Faces of Mexican Music Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas Revisited.” Library of Congress Information Bulletin, LOC, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

National Hispanic Heritage Month | Law Library of Congress. (2020, July 24). Library of Congress.

Rodríguez, Victoria Eli. "Brouwer (Mezquida), Leo." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 5 Oct. 2022. Editors. (2020, September 16). Hispanic Heritage Month. HISTORY.

Allen, Phillipa. “Hilda Paredes Biography.” HILDA PAREDES,

Parker, Robert. "Chávez (y Ramírez), Carlos." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Pérez, Ricardo Miranda. "Ponce (Cuéllar), Manuel." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Puli Toro Sings Favorite Hispanic Songs1985.Folkways Records.