Mexico and the Revolución The musical career of Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940) was shaped by the Mexican Revolution, at its height while the composer was attending the National Conservatory in Mexico City.

This unstable political climate convinced his father to send him off to study in the United States, and Revueltas soon departed for Chicago, a city bustling with musical creativity. He subsequently travelled between the southern United States and Mexico, honing his style and his political identity. He became a member of LEAR, the League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists, a learned society that embraced communism in opposition to the authoritarian and, by all accounts, anti-democratic post-revolutionary regime.

This political, cultural, and historical setting became a vital component of Revueltas’s nationalistic yet highly modern style. The use of folk themes and exacting rhythms as the basis of his sound, the sophisticated contrasts of timbres, and Revuelta’s caustic humour combined to create his distinctive compositional voice. All these musical characteristics are present in Janitzio (1933), acclaimed following its premiere by the Mexican Symphony Orchestra. The triple-metre waltz heard early in the piece lends lyricism to what is otherwise a jeering musical discourse. The theme introduced by the brass evolves from one orchestral section to another, punctuated by notes that break free from the initial key. A more tender and tuneful theme ensues, demonstrating Revueltas’ gift for blending humour and gravitas.