Grupo de los cuatro

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Grupo de los Cuatro (Group of the Four) is the name adopted by a group of four young Mexican composers in 1935, who organized together with the aim of propagating new music, particularly their own.


Carlos Chávez, who had replaced Antonio Castro Leal as director of the Mexican Conservatorio Nacional de Música in 1928, set about revising the curriculum to increase the emphasis on writing music in all styles (Parker 1983, 9; Slonimsky 1945, 233). In 1931, he received approval from the Secretariat of Public Education to inaugurate a course in free composition, at first titled Class of Musical Creation, later renamed Composition Workshop. The first students enrolled in this class included some older members, such as Vincente Mendoza, Candelario Huízar, and Silvestre Revueltas, but also three young students under the age of twenty, Daniel Ayala, Salvador Contreras, and José Pablo Moncayo. They were joined the next year by another pupil of their age group, Blas Galindo (Parker 1983, 10).

Early in 1933 Chávez relinquished the directorship of the Conservatory to assume the post of Chief of the Department of Fine Arts, a position he held for only a year, after which he resumed directorship of the Conservatory in May 1934. However, he only remained until December of that year, following the change of regime when Lázaro Cárdenas became President (Parker 1983, 9, 12; Slonimsky 1945, 233). Almost immediately on Chávez's departure the composition course was dropped, prompting Ayala, Contreras, Galindo, and Moncayo to demonstrate the validity of the suppressed course by presenting a program of their own compositions. For this purpose, they organized in 1935 (on the initiation of Contreras) as the Grupo de Jóvenes Compositores (Group of Young Composers), and gave their first concert under this name on 25 November 1935. The works performed included two works by Contreras (the Sonata for Violin and Cello and Danza for piano) and two by Moncayo (the Sonatina for piano and Amatzinac, for flute and string quartet) (Galindo 1948, 75; Malmström 1974, 81–82; Parker 1983, 11; Slonimsky 1945, 227, 235, 243; Stevenson 2001). A newspaper review of this concert, published two days later, referred them as the "Grupo de los Cuatro", with deliberate reference to the Russian "Mighty Five" and French "Les Six" (Barros Serra 1935), and they adopted this as their name for their following concert on 26 March 1936 at the Teatro de Orientación (Anon. 1936a; Tello 1987, 227). Their next program was a workers' concert, given on 17 June 1936, followed by their second "official" concert under the new name, on 15 October 1936. This included the Quartet for four cellos by Galindo and two works by Moncayo: the Sonatina for violin and piano, and Romanza for piano trio (Anon. 1936b; Anon. 1936c; Slonimsky 1945, 237, 243).


  • Anon. 1935. Concierto de un grupo de cuatro jóvenes compositores. Performance Program. Teatro de Orientación, Mexico City (25 November).
  • Anon. 1936a. Concierto del Grupo de los Cuatro. Performance Program. Sala de Conferencias de Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (31 March).
  • Anon. 1936b. Concierto del Grupo de los Cuatro dedicado a las escuelas de arte para los trabajadores. Performance Program. Mexico City (17 June).
  • Anon. 1936c. Concierto del Grupo de los Cuatro. Performance Program. Sala de Conferencias de Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (15 October).
  • Barros Serra, José. 1935. "Grupo de los cuatro: Crítica musical". El Universal (27 November).
  • Malmström, Dan. 1974. Introduction to Twentieth Century Mexican Music. Uppsala: The Institute of Musicology, Uppsala University.
  • Parker, Robert. 1983. Carlos Chávez, Mexico’s Modern-day Orpheus. Twayne's Music Series. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-9455-7.
  • Slonimsky, Nicolas. 1945. Music in Latin America. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.
  • Stevenson, Robert. 2001. "Contreras, Salvador". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Tello, Aurelio. 1987. Salvador Contreras: Vida y obra. Colección de estudios musicológicos 1. México, D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical Carlos Chávez. ISBN 968-29-0718-7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Contreras, Salvador. 1967. "El Grupo de los cuatro". Armonía (August–September): 8-10
  • García Morillo, Roberto. 1960. Carlos Chávez: Vida y obra. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica.
  • Kahan, Salomón. 1935. "Una hora experimental: Crónica del primer concierto del Grupo de los cuatro". El Universal Gráfico (29 November).