Carlos Jiménez Mabarak


A key figure in the revival of the Mexican dance movement, and the composer of two distinguished operas, Jiménez Mabarak is probably best-known for his work in Mexican cinema. His compositional style underwent an unusual life-cycle, beginning in a traditionally Spanish manner before embracing modernism with the use of serialism and electronic techniques. His later works, however, are in a more classical style, employing a tonal language and using elements of Mexican folk music.

Jiménez Mabarak was born in Tacuba, Mexico on 31 January 1916. He undertook his compositional training in Brussels, Rome, Mexico City (with Revueltas) and Paris (with René Leibowitz) and had his first success with the publication in 1935 of his Allegro romántico. In 1961, his film score for Deseada won the coveted Ariel prize, establishing his cinematic career. Further prizes were awarded for his scores to Veneno para las hadas (1961) and Los recuerdos del porvenir (1969), and he won first prize in the music competition for the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games.

Aside from movie music, Jiménez Mabarak composed music for dance, including the seminal works Balada del venado y de la luna and El paraiso de los ahogados, and wrote two important operas: Misa de seis (Mass at 6) and La güera (The Blonde). He taught composition at the National Conservatory from 1942-68 and at the Escuela Nacional de Música in later years. He died in Mexico City on 21 June 1994.

Of Jiménez Mabarak's more modern music, El paraiso de los ahagados and Misa de seis stand out as some of the most advanced Mexican scores of the 20th century. Of his return to tonality, the composer remarked that 'the discipline of a more conventional language allows me the greater possibility of freedom'. La güera and Sala de retratos belong to this last stage in his career and feature complex chromatic harmonies alongside folk-influenced melodies and rhythms.

Related composers: Silvestre Revueltas, José Pablo Moncayo García, René Leibowitz

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