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Manuel Ponce (1882-1948)

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Can you name a Mexican composer of classical music? I’m sure some of us can without missing a beat, but for others, it might be something we’d need to Google. No shame in that! Googling has become a quick and easy way to get information these days. And to be totally honest with you, I did some googling in order to write this blog!

One Mexican composer I’ve gotten to know in recent years is Manuel Ponce (mahn-WEL pown-SAY). He’s best known for a selection we play often here on WNED Classical called, “Estrellita” or “Little Star.” But he wrote so much more!

Born in the tiny Mexican village of Fresnillo in 1882 (the same year Stravinsky was born), Ponce was the youngest of twelve children. His early musical training was sketchy, but through natural talent, aptitude, and drive, he became the first internationally renowned Mexican composer. Arguably, his most important contribution to classical music is his inspired use of Mexican folk music in his compositions. By incorporating Mexican folk melodies and rhythms, Ponce’s music possesses a unique Mexican flair.

Legendary guitarist Andrés Segovia (1893-1987) commissioned Ponce to write some original music. One of the works he produced for Segovia was his “Concierto del Sur” which remains an undisputed masterwork for guitar and orchestra. Maybe you’ve heard “Concierto del Sur” played here on WNED Classical, or as part of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition.

Find out more about Mexican composer Manuel Ponce by simply googling his name! It’ll be time well-spent!