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Silvestre Revueltas was Mexico’s most famous unknown composer

Silvestre Revueltas
Silvestre Revueltas

How does art serve social justice? And can social justice serve art? These two timely questions lie at the heart of this examination of the work of Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas.

He was born in 1899 and died young aged just 40. He took up composing during the final decade of his life.

Revueltas worked on many film scores. Critics say his most remarkable was “Redes.” The film was released in 1935 and tells the story of a struggling and exploited Mexican fisherman from the Veracruz region. The cinematographer was Paul Strand, one of the great names in American photography. Revueltas was a progressive and his work echoed a desire for radical change. He has been called “Mexico’s most famous unknown composer.” Cultural historian Joe Horowitzwho has written in the arts and social justice goes further.

“I would not only call Revueltas Mexico’s greatest composer but the supreme political composer of concert music produced in our Western hemisphere,” he says.

Joseph Horowitz is executive producer for the Washington, D.C.-based PostClassical Emsemble. He produced this “More Than Music” feature. Peter Bogandoff is the technical producer with support provided by the Mexican Cultural Institute. Two new Naxos releases feature the world premiere recording of the complete “Redes” soundtrack, conducted by Angel Gil-Ordonez.

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Rupert Allman