Juan Bautista Plaza and Musical Nationalism in Venezuela

Juan Bautista Plaza and Musical Nationalism in Venezuela

Marie Labonville
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/12/2007
ISBN: 978-0-253-11696-3
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Juan Bautista Plaza (1898-1965) was one of the most important musicians in the history of Venezuela. In addition to composing in a variety of genres and styles, he was the leading figure in Venezuelan music education and musicology at a time when his compatriots were seeking to solidify their cultural identity. Plaza's compositions in the emerging nationalist style and his efforts to improve musical institutions in his home country parallel the work of contemporaneous Latin American musicians including Carlos Chávez of Mexico, Amadeo Roldán of Cuba, and Camargo Guarnieri of Brazil.

Plaza's life and music are little studied, and Labonville's ambitious book is the first in English to be based on his extensive writings and compositions. As these and other documents show, Plaza filled numerous roles in Venezuela's musical infrastructure including researcher, performer, teacher, composer, promoter, critic, chapel master, and director of national culture. Labonville examines Plaza's many roles in an attempt to assess how the nationalist spirit affected art music culture in Venezuela, and what changes it brought to Venezuela's musical landscape.

Author Bio

Marie Elizabeth Labonville is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Illinois State University.


“This ambitious new book is the first in English to be based on Juan Bautista Plaza's extensive writings and compositions. Labonville examines Plaza's many roles within Venezuela's musical infrastructure, attempting to assess how the nationalist spirit affected art music culture and what changes it brought to Venezuela's musical landscape.”

“A path-breaking work that will be of great use to American scholarship in mapping out what remains, to our shame, largely terra incognita to musical scholarship.”
 — Alejandro Enrique Planchart, Emeritus Professor of Music, UCSB

“Making extensive use of primary sources, Labonville chronicles Plaza's productivity in the realms of composition, musical nationalism, music education, musicology, and journalism. In so doing she demonstrates how Plaza exemplifies the Latin American nationalist musicians of his generation, not only because of his compositions but also because of the broader service he provided to the musical culture of Venezuela. . . . Highly recommended.September 2008”
 — G. Torres, Lafayette College

“[Plaza's] work helped transform the art music culture of his country, and he became a founding father of the present Venezuelan musical and musico-pedagogical establishments. A pioneering book such as Labonville's study can have a positive impact in generating interest in a subject, both outside and within a country such as Venezuela. Juan Bautista Plaza and Musical Nationalism in Venezuela points to the many research opportunities in Latin American art music still awaiting investigation.Nov 2011”
 — Journal of the Society for American Music

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Table of Contents

I: Background
1. Introduction: Early Twentieth-Century Art Music Culture in Caracas; The Significance of Plaza and His Colleagues
2. A Portrait of Plaza: The Man, the Musician
3. The Composer
II: Plaza's Life and Works
4. Beginnings; First Compositions; Vocational Indecision; First Writings on Music (1898-1920)
5. Rome; Plans for Musical Renewal in Venezuela (1920-1923)
6. Paid to Compose: The Chapel Mastership (1923-1948)
7. The Educator, Part 1 (1923-1928)
8. The Early Secular and Nationalist Compositions (1924-1929)
9. The Nascent Journalist (1925-1928)
10. The Founding of the Orfeón Lamas, and Plaza's Creative Response (1927-1963)
11. Plaza and the Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela (1930-1957)
12. The Mature Journalist; Writings on Nationalism in Music (1929-1948)
13. The Principal Nationalist Compositions with Instruments (1930-1956)
14. The Educator, Part 2 (1930-1941)
15. The Musicological Pioneer (1936-1964)
16. Plaza as the Subject of Reportage
17. The Later Non-Nationalist Compositions (1930-1963)
18. The Educator, Part 3 (1942-1962)
19. Retirement; Final Thoughts on Education and Culture (1962-1964)
20. Plaza in Retrospect