First North American Pedagogical Work on Music

Original Manuscript Musical Notations Inserted in Printed Text, as Issued

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131. ELÍZAGA [PRADO], José [Damián] Mariano. Elementos de Musica, Ordenandas por Don Mariano Elizaga. Mexico: Imprenta del Supremo Gobierno, en Palacio, 1823. [10], 1-76 pp., numerous text illustrations of music expertly drawn in sepia ink, as issued (except text illustration on pp. 43, 60 and 62, which were never done), plus folded typographic plate at end, with staff and notes accomplished in sepia ink, followed by blank folded sheet meant for another plate entitled Tabla de los Modos, but never printed (copy supplied); both plate leaves at end measure 21.5 x 14.2 cm. 12mo (14.2 x 10.5 cm), contemporary Mexican tree sheep, spine gilt decorated. Spine rubbed with some loss of gilt, upper spine end lightly chipped, binding moderately rubbed with some areas of flaying, corners lightly bumped, hinges starting but strong; wants front flyleaf, signature 5 misfolded, except for light scattered foxing, interior very fine. Rare. Six copies reported in OCLC.

     First edition of the first didactic Mexican book on music. Palau 79093. See also Charles J. Hall, Chronology of Western Classical Music, New York: Routledge, 2002, p. 273. This book introduced modern musical theories and practices into Mexico. Such was the state, however, of Mexican publishing that the musical examples had to be completed in manuscript, a transitional practice documented in the present work. Jesús C. Romero, José Mariano Elízaga (Mexico, 1934), reports that in one private collection he saw a copy with blank spaces instead of music. The book is divided into about forty rather brief sections that explain such matters as notes, scales, tonality, etc. Based on Antonio Eximeno y Pujade's Eximeno's Dell'origine e delle regole della musica (1774), Elízaga's book pointedly and studiously ignores complicated musical theory in favor of practical instruction.

     Elízaga (1786-1842) showed musical talents at an early age and twice studied in Mexico City as a youth, being sent the first time when he was less than six years old. After completing his studies, he returned to Valladolid, Morelia, his birthplace. He became tutor to Ana María Huarte, and when she married Iturbide, the latter called him to Mexico City, where he filled important posts, including the founding of the Sociedad Filarmónica, an enterprise that had wide support from Mexican political and social figures. Lucas Alamán, for example, was a major supporter of those projects. (A true national, enduring institution of music, the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, was not established until 1866.) Elízaga spent some time in Guadalajara before once again returning to Mexico City, where he spent most of the rest of his life. He composed numerous pieces of music of all types. Among his achievements are this book and the founding of the Mexican national orchestra. He was instrumental in establishing in 1826 the first press in Mexico for printing non-liturgical music. He also wrote Princípios de la armonía y de la melodía (Mexico: Ximeno, 1835). As Romero remarks: “El espíritu progresista de Elízaga tenía siempre por norma convertir en realidad de mañana el ideal de hoy...” (p. 109).

      David G. Tovey, “José Mariano Elízaga and Music Education in Early Nineteenth-Century Mexico” in The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Jan., 1997), pp. 126-136:

Most music educators in the United States are at least vaguely aware that school music teaching as a profession extends back to the early nineteenth century, and they often know something of the efforts of such pioneers as Lowell Mason. Few North Americans realize, however, that Mexico's history of music education (at least in the European- American sense), while admittedly not constituting a single, unbroken tradition to the present day, predates that of the United States by over three centuries. Even fewer readers from north of the Rio Grande know that in the 1820s—a decade before Mason's celebrated efforts in the Boston schools—a Mexican musician and teacher briefly attained extraordinary prominence in his own country, first as a performer and then as a conductor, teacher, and textbook writer.

     Robert Stevenson refers to Elízaga as “the first important republican composer in Mexico [and] a major figure in nineteenth-century Mexican music” (Music in Mexico: A Historical Survey, New York: Thomas Crowell, 1952, p. 135).


Sold. Hammer: $750.00; Price Realized: $918.75.

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