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A Biographical Sketch of Manuel Enríquez

Twentieth century Mexican music has witnessed the appearance of great composers who have had a major influence on it. Not only on the course of its creation, but also in other areas of musical endeavors. The first half of the century had Carlos Chávez at the helm of its development, Chávez contributed in a definitive way to the profile of music in Mexico between 1921 and 1960.

During the second half of the century another predominant personality came on the scene of Mexican music, not only as a composer, but also as administrator, teacher, diffuser and active member of the most prestigious cultural institutions of the country. This was Manuel Enríquez, whose dynamic presence and abundant musical activity for three decades made him the other pillar in Mexican music.

Born in Ocotlán, Jalisco on June 17, 1926, his musical vocation arose from forebears , above all his grandfather and father, part of a family where music was a part of their daily life. His violin studies began with his father and continued in Guadalajara in the academy of Aurea Corona with Ignacio Camarena. Later he made weekly trips to the city of Morelia to study with Miguel Bernal Jiménez. Years later, Enríquez would recall the great musician from Morelia, telling that thanks to Bernal Jiménez, "he got close to the deep, easy, truly and lasting knowledge about the techniques and practice of composers: he put into my hands in a simple way, __Enríquez said__ the medium to learn the skills of composing". His first works: Suite for violin and piano and Dos Canciones voice and piano date from this time.

In 1955 he received a scholarship to attend the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Over the years he would often recall the outstanding teachers he met here: Ivan Galamian; Louis Persinger with whom he studied: chamber music; William Primrose, who also guided him in the execution of chamber music and Peter Mennin, his composition teacher who helped him take his musical compositions toward structural forms and to cultivate the expressionist language we find later in his mature music. Of equal importance were his dealings with Stefan Wolpe, a disciple of Anton Webern, who spoke to him not only of music, but also of politics and the humanities.
From 1934 to 1950 Enríquez did not visit Mexico City, where composers such as Chávez, Revueltas, Galindo, Moncayo and Huizar had consolidated and where "provincial composers" such as Rolón and Bernal Jiménez had reached a level of notoriety that placed them among the prestigious composers of Mexico. Enríquez was in a way also a "provincial composer". When he traveled a New York he was still unrecognized as a composer in the Mexican capital and he had already paid his dues to Nationalism (with his Suite for Violin and Piano and Sinfonía I) and he was ready to experiment with new proposals. His musical education begun in Guadalajara and Morelia and was to continue on a higher level in the city of the skyscrapers.

When he received, in 1971, the Guggenheim Fellowship, he was already a recognized composer in the Mexican musical ambiance. However, Enríquez went to the Center of Electronic Music at Columbia University to experiment with Electronics and to study the new resources afforded by contemporary technology. He was not given over to this idiom, but did compose some electronic works. He considered electronics to be just another tool for the contemporary composer. Because of his desire to keep up with new tendencies in composition, he attended the renowned international courses of Darmstadt where he made contacts with the great European avantgarde composers: Berio, Xenakis, Stockhausen, Penderecki and Ligeti.

As a violinist he had a distinguished carreer; at an early age he was named concertmaster of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Guadalajara (1951-1955). He quit the orchestra to go to the United States in 1955. When he came back to Guadalajara in 1958, he was invited by the Mexican conductor, Luis Herrera de la Fuente, to be part of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional as main chair of second violins.
In 1962, he took an important step in his violinist career, by founding the Cuarteto Mexico with Luz Vernova, Gilberto Garcia and Sally van den Berg; they made international tours during 1973 and 1975 to such diverse countries as: France, Poland, U.S.S.R., the United States of America, Venezuela, Ecuador, etc. Also he performed in many recitals as soloist specialized in the XX Century music and was invited to many cultural and contemporary music festivals.

The major part of the violin repertory composed in Mexico after 1960 was premiered by him, as well as works by contemporary composers from throughout the world. He was also the recipient of music dedicated to him. Much of which was recorded.
Between 1975 and 1977, he resided in Paris, commissioned by the Mexican government to promote Mexican music in Europe. He gave recitals in Vienna, Paris, Bonn, Warsaw, Bourges, etc. This intense activity also included lecturers on new music in Mexico and helped to make known Mexican composers in Europe. In many ways Enríquez was a pioneer in the field of new execution techniques and in specializing in contemporary repertoire. The road he began in the decade of the seventies was later continued by an unprecedented number of instrumentalists, in this country.
Yet his most important field remains in composition. Heir to the school of Bernal Jiménez, he quickly broached new directions that included poli-tonality, dodecaphonism, alleatory and electronic music. His extensive catalogue of nearly 150 works, includes all genres of instruments, sporadic encounters with vocal music, electroacoustical music, music with purely electronic sounds and multimedia. He undertook Nationalism in Suite for violin and piano and Sinfonía I ; polytonality in Sinfonía II and in Obertura Lírica. He dealt briefly with dodecaphonic serialism, through far from the orthodoxy that later Schoenberg disciples promoted. Beginning with Transición (1965) and Cuarteto II (1967) Enríquez the innovator, that of graphic music, that of aleatory control, that of open forms, that of explorations of new possibilities for instruments and that of "the poet of the concrete", as he was called by José Antonio Alcaráz, became the most important composer of that period.

Carlos Chávez gave birth to the New Composition Workshop of the National Conservatory of Music and a new group of disciples of the master teacher invaded the Mexican music scene. Those were the years, with the decline of Nationalism, the death of Moncayo and institutionalization of Huapango, having been accepted serialisms, (dodecaphonic and integral) in Mexico, Chávez went deeper into his musical investigations founded not only on repetition and the distancing of any type of tonal reference, but also the desire to reach total abstraction, a sort of "concrete music". His thought could be new; but not his syntax nor grammar. It was the Enríquez of Cuarteto II (1967), Enlaces (1967) Trayectorias (1967) , Concierto para 8 (1968), Móvil I (1968), Si libet (1968), Díptico I (1969), Ixámatl (1969), Móvil II (1969), Concierto para piano y orquesta (1970), Mixteria (1970), Para Alicia (1970), Díptico II (1971), él y...ellos (1971), La reunión de los saurios (1971), Monólogo (1971), Viols (1971), á...2 (1972), Ritual (1973), 1 x 4 (1974),Trío (1974), Once upon a time (1975), Conjuro (1976), Tlachtli (1976), Tzicuri (1976), Canto de los volcanes (1977), Corriente alterna (1977), Raíces (1977), Fases (1978) and Sonatina (1980), who found the new musical path that had been walked by nearly all the Mexican composers prior to 1960. The essence of Enríquez´s contributions is shown in this period of his compositions. This gruop of compositions (1967-1980) shapes for Mexico all of the modern elements of the post-war period; all of the sonorous findings of post-Webern writings, the radical rupture of preestablished ideas of western culture: "message", "communication", "beauty", "easy-to-listen-to sounds", to give way to a fleshless sonorous reality. Yet music had never been more communicative, more subversive, more directly attached to the sensuous pleasure of its audience in the years Enríquez composed these works.

The maturity of the 80´s was reflected in a returning of conventional writing, mixed with an aleatory idiom. From this mixture major accomplishments include:
Hoy de ayer (1981), Interminado sueño (1981), En prosa (1982), Oboemia (1982), Cuarteto IV (1983), Poemario (1983), Políptico (1983), Manantial de soles (1984), Palíndroma (1984), Concierto para cello y orquesta (1985), Díptico III (1987), Cuarteto V "Xopan Cuicatl" (1988), Manantial de soles (1988), Recordando a Juan de Lienas (1988 ), Tlapizalli (1988), Maxienia (1989), Quasi libero (1989), Tercia (1990), Concierto para dos guitarras y orquesta (1992), De acuerdo (1993), Zenzontle (1994). Some of these works shared the spirit of the searching neo-instrumental of 1980’s or were the product of the appearance of a rich generation of interpreters specialized in new music: the group Da Capo, the Percussions Orchestra of UNAM (National Autonomous University) the Trio Neos, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, and individuals such as Marielena Arizpe, Luis Humberto Ramos, Lidia Tamayo, Wendy Holdaway, Marisa Canales and many others.

His activities as composer lead him to participate in important international festivals of new music all around the world: Donaueschingen; Autummn Warsaw; Darmstadt; International Music Festival of O.A.S in Washington, Prague; Bourgues; Maracaibo; La Habana, Buenos Aires, Berliner Fetspiele, Casals in Puerto Rico; Manuel de Falla, Toronto New Music Concerts; Vermont and so on. In Mexico he participated in the Contemporary Musical Festival of Guadalajara, The Spring Festival of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in Oaxaca, the International Cervantino Festival, the "Días Mundiales de la Música", Festival of ICMS in Mexico City. He was director of the International Music Festival in Morelia and from 1979 to 1994 he directed the International Forum of New Music, the most notable and lasting encounter for contemporary music in Mexico. The Forum is now named after him. He also organized the First Latinamerican Encounter of Composers within the International Festival in Morelia.His extensive teaching career began in 1964 when he became a professor at the National School of Music, later at the National Conservatory of Music and the Superior School of Music where he taught violin, chamber music and composition.
In 1972 he became director of the National Conservatory of Music and instigated significant changes in this center and opened its classrooms to the most important foreign contemporary composers. He was also guest lecturer and professor at numerous institutions and centers in Mexico City, San Antonio, Texas, Monterrey, La Habana, Bahía, Brazil, Montreal, Carlton College, Northfield, Minnesota; he taught composition at the "Manuel de Falla" courses in Granada, Spain; guest professor at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Inseparable from his composition activities, Enríquez was committed to the organization of activities and institutions that promoted new music and contributed to its knowledge. Thus, he was founder of the grupo "Nueva Música de México, the Mexican Society of Contemporary Music, President of the Mexican Association of New Music, founder of the interdisciplinary group "El Carro de Osiris", founder of the Latinamerican Society of New Music, President of "Editora de Música de Concierto S.C.", Coordinator of the series "Mexico, A Work of Art" presented in New York, N.Y. , San Antonio, Tex. and Los Angeles, Ca. He coordinated the musical activities in Germany for the Book Fair in Frankfurt, dedicated to Mexico in 1992; founder and director of the International Forum of New Music and member of the Directive Committee of the International Center of Electroacoustical Music. He formed part of Mexican delegations to the Congress of the Authors and Composers Society in Warsaw and Paris where he presented the problem of diffusion, edition and recording of music by contemporary composers.

His active and committed participation in the development of Mexican music, its institutions and its projections on an international level, caused him to form part of the Technical Council of the "Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional", became a member of the Technical Council of the "Ballet Clásico de México", Head of the Music Department for the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), Director of the National Center of Research, Documentation and Musical Information (CENIDIM) Coordinator of the Fifth Interamerican Conference of Musical Eduction of the O:A:S:, vocal of the Inter-American Council of Music of the O.A.S., member of the Editing Council of the Latin American Music Review, member of the Executive Committee of the International Council of Music (CIM-UNESCO) ; member of the Directive Committee of the Society of Authors and Composers of Mexico, member of the Consultive Commission of the National Council for Culture and Arts and musical advisor to the presidency of CONACULTA.

In recognition of his notable creative and intellectual endeavors he was invited to be a member of the Seminary of Mexican Culture , of the Academy of Arts of Mexico and of the Academy of arts of the Democratic Republic of Germany. For the same reasons he was given many awards throughout his career. He was awarded the José Clemente Orozco medal by the State of Jalisco, the Elías Sourasky Award presented to him by President Luis Echeverría, the Diosa de Plata Award from PECIME, he received a fellowship award from the john Simon Guggenheim Foundation, recognition from the O. A. S. for his promotion of Latin American music .The National Arts Award was presented to him by President Miguel de la Madrid and he was named Creator Emeritus by the National System of Creators.

At the height of his abilities and creative maturity, he was invited to head the Composition Department of UCLA. At the same time he was composing Zenzontle for flute and string orchestra and sketching an opera and a concert for trombone. The XVI International Forum of New Music was already organized. Much was still expected of him when he died suddenly on April 26, 1994. Although the expression sounds cliched his absence has left a space that is difficult to fill. His death brought an end to an important epoch of avant-garde music in Mexico.
He was an unrelenting promoter of national values, and in his way, a guide to youth whose development was always one of his concerns, be by playing new scores, programming them in contemporary music concerts, or commissioning works. From the public positions he held, he directed his attention to national music, to creating opportunities for new performers and stimulating interest in the creation of contemporary music in those well-known ensembles, conductors and soloists.

He was an efficient administrator, with foresight and great organizational capacities, with a good sense for planning, with flair and intelligence to give form and reality to projects.
He possessed the one thing that achieves the recognition of the Tyrians and the Trojans: a moral authority emanated by a knowledge of music and a creative force that is the only type of authority that not only imposes itself, but transcends. Perhaps he was the "Iron Musician" of the second half of the XX century, even though he did not have a Revueltas to call him so.
When a fair, even, serene, and dispassionate analysis is made of

Mexican music of the second half of the century, the name of Manuel Enríquez will remain steadfast, immovable, intact, undamaged and his legacy will be recognized in its full dimensions as the work of the great musician he was.

Aurelio Tello


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