Notes 59.2 (2002) 365-367
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Music in Ibero-America to 1850: A Historical Survey. By Daniel Mendoza de Arce. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001. [xviii, 722 p. ISBN 0-8108-3997-0. $95.] Bibliography, index.
Music in Ibero-America to 1850 is an extensive and detailed historical summary and interpretation of the entire range of European and Creole (European-American) musical life in Spanish and Portuguese America, from first contact with Amerindian peoples in 1492, to 1850, several decades after Latin American independence. Musical activities of African and Amerindian peoples in the Americas are discussed at length when they relate to European musical systems. Through both its format (narrative history arranged by topic and chronology) and focus (art music and related traditions), Daniel Mendoza de Arce seeks to represent an entire field of scholarship.
A tremendous amount of activity, with diverse methodologies and different levels of quality, has taken place in Latin American musical scholarship over the past half century. Before that time, however, a relatively small number of individuals worked in absolute or relative isolation while seeking to reclaim an often forgotten musical past. Especially in Latin American countries, they also generally worked without the benefit of institutional support or formal academic training in historical or anthropological methods. The advances that began in a strong way after World War II were due, in part, to the institutional establishment of historical musicology and the emergence of ethnomusicology. In addition, the models set by scholars such as Robert Stevenson, Francisco Curt Lange, Carlos Vega, Luiz Heitor Corrêa de Azevedo, Gilbert Chase, and others were followed and adapted by several succeeding generations of researchers who have worked with greater institutional support, and, increasingly, with more rigorous formal academic training. Further, because of the small number of Latin American universities offering doctoral or master's programs in musicology or ethnomusicology (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, for example), quite a number of Latin American scholars have had to study outside their home countries. Nevertheless, while the number of trained Latin American scholars is growing, the prevalence of individuals with less than complete academic training who are working in relative isolation is still a factor in Latin America. Therefore, the very large body of publications that made Music in Ibero-America to 1850 possible reflects these heterogeneous approaches and varying degrees of intellectual rigor and usefulness.
The author, professor emeritus of Hispanic studies and sociology at Governors State University (University Park, Illinois), is an expert on music in Puerto Rico and Uruguay. Yet this is a pioneering study by this author; no other publication has ever covered the colonial and early independent periods in Latin America with the same immense breadth of geographical coverage. This is essentially all of Spanish and Portuguese America over a span of four centuries. The only other books to approximate Mendoza de Arce's comprehensive and narrative approach are Gerard Béhague's Music in Latin America: An Introduction (Englewood [End Page 365] Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1979), and Nicolas Slonimsky's path-breaking Music of Latin America (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1945). Robert Stevenson, along with Francisco Curt Lange, was a pioneer and trendsetter in the field of colonial Latin American music and has studied musical traditions in almost all areas of Latin America, but his books are devoted to only one or two countries, the influential Music in Mexico (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1952) and the seminal Music in Aztec and Inca Territories (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968, reprint 1976). Thus Mendoza de Arce, by the very nature of his endeavor, has set up his book for comparison with some of the standard works in the field: that he succeeds in large measure with this immense project is due to his diligent search for and careful reading of a vast portion of the published literature. Other strengths include his sensitivity to cultural and ethnic similarities and differences among the many disparate peoples of the Americas, the very inclusive nature of his coverage (cathedral, mission, parish, and convent sacred music traditions, as well as military...