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VIV 331



Mexican Composers for the Organ, Vol. 3
By Alfonso de Elías and Manuel de Elías • Edited by James Welch

This volume showcases a unique father and son combination of talents. Alfonso de Elías (1902-1984) was perhaps the last composer of the Mexican Romantic tradition. His Sonata and Interludio are examples of his characteristic chromaticism and rich harmonies. Manuel de Elías (b. 1939) is a member of the Mexican Academy of Arts. His Canción de Cuna is an evocative lullaby, while Preludio Elegíaco moves from introspection to a forceful climax before ending in repose.
VIV 331, 48 pages, $21.95


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Brief Bios of the Composers

Alfonso de Elías

Alfonso de Elías was born in Mexico City in 1902. From 1915 to 1927 he studied at the National Conservatory of Mexico, where he received First Prize in the National Piano Competition. He continued thereafter as a very active concert pianist.

A gifted educator, he had a profound influence on several generations of musicians. From 1958 he taught at the National School of Music of the University of Mexico, and from 1963 he was on the faculty of the National Conservatory of Music. He also taught at his own Academy of Music. He was a religious man and served as organist for the churches of Santa Brígida and San Francisco.

Perhaps the last composer of the Mexican Romantic tradition, he was the recipient of awards for composition in 1931, 1934, and 1940. His large catalogue of works includes commemorative masses for soloists, organ, and strings; motets; chamber music; songs; piano music, three symphonies, and other works for full orchestra.

In addition to the two compositions contained in this volume, he composed two other organ works: Elevación (Pequeño Preludio para Harmonium) (1940); and Intermezzo (1954).

Alfonso de Elías died in Mexico City in 1984.


Manuel de Elías

As a result of his varied activities as composer, conductor, performer, educator, and proponent of Mexican and 20th-century music, Manuel Jorge de Elías is known as one of Mexico’s outstanding musicians.

Born in Mexico City in 1939, he began his studies in piano and composition with his father, Alfonso de Elías. He later entered the National School of Music and advanced to the National Conservatory of Music, where he studied orchestral conducting with Ernest Huber-Contwig, Luis Herrera de la Fuente, and Edgard Doneux. At the same time he was a pupil of pianists Gerhart Kaemper and Bernard Flavigny and received special training in composition from Karlheinz Stockhausen and Jean-Etienne Marie.

In 1980 he founded the Symphony Orchestra of Veracruz. From 1984-1986 he served as Artistic Director of the Chamber Orchestra of the National Institute of Fine Arts. In 1987 he was named conductor of the Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra, and in 1988 he founded the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra. He is responsible for numerous premiere performances and recordings of Mexican music and for competitions for young performers.

In 1990 he was nominated a member of the Mexican Society of Musicology. From 1991-1993 he served as Coordinator of Music and Opera at the National Institute of Fine Arts. In 1991 he was awarded membership in the Academy of Arts, and in 1993 the Mexican government honored him as Composer Emeritus.

His catalogue of compositions contains more than 150 works, ranging from solo instrumental works to symphonic and choral works. As a composer and conductor he has participated in prominent festivals in Brussels, Warsaw, Washington, New York, Chartres, Paris, Caracas, and in Mexico and Argentina.

Other organ works by Manuel de Elías include: Kaleidoscopio No. 1 (1969); Kaleidoscopio No. 2 (1973); Kaleidoscopio No. 3 (1974); Mutaciones (1995; originally composed in 1977 for harpsichord); and Lamentatio (Ecce lignum crucis) (Good Friday, 1990).

James Welch

James Welch is the University Organist and member of the music faculty of Santa Clara University in the San Francisco Bay Area. He received the DMA in organ performance from Stanford University in 1977. Since that time he has pursued research of organs and organ music throughout Latin America, concentrating on 20th-century compositions from Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. He has given performances of many of these compositions in Europe, at conventions of the American Guild of Organists, at the International Congress of Organists in Montréal, and in Latin America. In 1994 he performed at the International Organ Festival in Morelia, Mexico, and in 1995 he performed and lectured at the Third Conference of Latin-American Organists and Organbuilders, held in Porto Alegre, Brazil.


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