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La noche de los mayas (suite)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

La noche de los mayas is a film score by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas for the 1939 film of the same name, which relates to Mexico's pre-Columbian heritage. Revueltas's score consists of 36 sequences without any organic relation to one another, composed to be easily fitted to an already-edited film. Many of these passages consist of conventional film-music stereotypes designed to underline the story unobtrusively, rather than offer any novelty. An exception is found in some scenes of Yucatecan folklore, where the music takes on aspects of nationalism more characteristic of Revueltas's personal style. (These passages were assembled by Limantour into the second movement of his suite, titled "Noche de jaranas".)[1][failed verification]

Concert suites

Since Revueltas' death in 1940, the film score has been arranged for performance in the concert hall.


In 1946 the German composer Paul Hindemith made a visit to Mexico where he met Rosaura Revueltas, sister of Silvestre. This led to his concert arrangement in two movements.[2] Hindemith's version calls for a small orchestra consisting of:

  • 2 flutes (both doubling piccolo)
  • 1 oboe
  • 2 clarinets
  • 1 bassoon
  • 4 horns
  • 1 trumpet
  • 1 trombone
  • 1 tuba
  • timpani
  • percussion (tamtam, bass drum, cymbals, indian drum, maracas, güiro, xylophone)
  • strings


There is a later arrangement by the Mexican conductor José Limantour [es] (1919–1976) in four movements, made in 1959. In this version, Limantour "took every imaginable liberty", including the addition of a concluding, extended "improvisation" of exotic percussion instruments which is largely responsible for the music's success with audiences, who erroneously believe it to have been composed by Revueltas himself.[1][failed verification]

  1. "Noche de los mayas", molto sostenuto
  2. "Noche de jaranas", scherzo
  3. "Noche de Yucatán", andante espressivo
  4. "Noche de encantamiento", tema y variaciones

It was premiered on 30 January 1961 by the Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra. It is scored for larger forces than Hindemith's version.[3]

  • 2 flutes (both doubling piccolo)
  • 2 oboes
  • 2 clarinets (both doubling E clarinet)
  • 1 bass clarinet
  • 2 bassoons
  • 4 horns
  • 3 trumpet
  • 2 trombones
  • 1 tuba
  • 1 piano
  • timpani
  • percussion (12 players: bongos, conga, metal rattle (sonajes), güiro, 2 tom-toms, teponaxtles, bass drum (huehuetl), caracol, snare drum, tenor drum, Indian drum, suspended cymbal, tamtam, xylophone)
  • strings

(Limantour's manuscript specifies 14 percussionists, but includes amongst them the timpani and piano.)[1]

Aware of the fact that Limantour's score specifies a percussion "improvisation" in the finale, more recent conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Enrique Diemecke, and Gustavo Dudamel have ignored Limantour's written-out version and substituted their own "improvisations", often to better effect.[1][failed verification]


Music by Revueltas has been used by Amalia Hernández for a ballet called "Los Mayas" about Mayan culture.[4][relevant?]


A suite[clarification needed] from the score was recorded by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Jalapa, conducted by Luis Herrera de la Fuente, and released by Catalyst Records in 1994.[5]

The version by Hindemith was recorded by the Tempus Fugit Orquesta conducted by Christian Gohmer, and released by Quindecim Records in 2014.[6]

The version by José Limantour was recorded by the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and released on Deutsche Grammophon in 2010.[7] Earlier, in 1959, Limantour had himself recorded his arrangement, conducting the Orquesta Sinfónica de Guadalajara. This was made around the time Limantour's arrangement was first performed.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Kolb Neuhaus, Roberto. "La noche de los mayas: crónica de una performance de otredad exótica". Trans (Revista Transcultural de Música), no. 18 (October 2014): 22. ISSN 1697-0101 (accessed 16 July 2017).
  2. ^ Talavera, Juan Carlos (24 March 2014). "Graban y publican la versión sinfónica de "La noche de los mayas"". (in Spanish). Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  3. ^ Freed, Richard. "La noche de los Mayas". The Kennedy Center.
  4. ^ "Los Mayas / The Mayans / Les Mayas / Die Mayas." Artes De México, no. 88/89, 1967, pp. 93–100. Citation on p. 93. Accessed via JSTOR (subscription required).
  5. ^ Catalyst 09026-62672-2 liner notes
  6. ^ Silvestre Revueltas: La noche de los Mayas: versión de Paul Hindemith; Juan Trigos: Concierto no. 2 (Hispano): para guitarra y orquesta, Raúl Zambrano (guitar), Tempus Fugit Orquesta, Christian Gohmer (cond.); recorded at Sony Music, Mexico City 10–12 June 2013. CD recording. Quindecim CDQP239. Mexico: Quindecim Recordings, 2014.
  7. ^ Rite: Stravinsky/Revueltas. Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel (cond.) CD recording. Deutsche Grammophon 0289 477 8775 4.
  8. ^ Silvestre Revueltas, Musica para charlar; La noche de los Mayas. Orquesta Sinfónica de Guadalajara; José Yves Limantour (cond.). Musart MCD 3022 (LP). Mexico City: Discos Musart.
This page was last edited on 8 September 2020, at 11:22
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