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Manuel Ponce

"Manuel Ponce - Mexican musical master."

He was born in 1882 and died in 1948 and started composing at about the age of seven after he received early musical training from a sister. Who knew he would become inextricably linked with both Segovia and guitar history.

By the time he was 22, he was studying piano and composition in Italy and Germany. He moved to Paris in the 1920's and studied with the French composer Paul Dukas. So impressed was Dukas by his music he once gave him a 30 out of 10 rating in an exam! He developed a very nationalistic style based on his Mexican origins. His style was heavily influenced by European music. It was also infused with his native folk music, to create a truly individual sound.

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Indeed, he collected and arranged many folk tunes which helped to define a true "Mexican voice" in music of the day. The great Villa-Lobos once said of this great composer...

"It gave me great joy to learn that, in that distant part of my continent,  there was another artist who was arming himself with the resources of the folklore of his people in the struggle for the future musical independence of his country."

He wrote most of his guitar works with Segovia in mind. They were close friends and collaborated on many occasions over their professional careers. He had to live in Havana, Cuba from 1915 to 1917 because of the political upheaval of the Mexican revolution.

This turned out to be fortuitous as Ponce was able to imbibe the local music, with its sultry rhythms and lively dance forms, which became a feature of his music. Not limited to being a composer, he once was the editor of the Musical Gazette, which championed the music of the Latin peoples.

Check out this great little video on YouTube of Andres Segovia playing the Balletto by "our man Manuel"...

He later published and edited another magazine called "Cultura Musical" whist in Mexico. He was a composer of the finest rank, and he almost single-handedly, put Mexico on the world musical map.

For the lovely Canciones Mexicanos by Ponce click here...

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