Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Musical Arts




Dr. Emily Ansari

2nd Supervisor

Dr. John Hess



This monograph examines the political power of Mexican composer Carlos Chávez (1899–1978) during the first half of the twentieth century in Mexico, and his influence upon the careers and lives of composers Silvestre Revueltas (1899–1940) and Blas Galindo (1910–1993). I show how Carlos Chávez acquired institutional power through various cultural organizations such as the Orquesta Sinfónica de México, the Conservatorio Nacional, Departamento de Bellas Artes, and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, and how his desire to bind music and culture with politics positioned him as the head of the cultural committee of Miguel Aleman’s presidential campaign of 1945. Chávez’s relationship with president Miguel Alemán ultimately granted him the position of Director of the INBA, the most important cultural institution in Mexico at the time, allowing him to shape the development of music and culture in the country for many years afterward.

Demonstrating Chávez’s authority over artists in Mexico, I argue that his relationships with Revueltas and Galindo portray different polemic faces of his administration. On one side, the story of Chávez and Revueltas draws attention to Chavez’s autocratic personality, while the story of Chávez and Galindo shows the benefits of his administration and the value of his influence and power for many young artists of his time. Coupled with this, I document how these composers were bound together through a common interest in politics, traditional music, and cultural prosperity for their country. Lastly, by analyzing the power of Carlos Chávez, I determine that institutional and political power had a strong influence upon the artistic community in Mexico that endures to this day.