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La noche de los Mayas : Work information

Silvestre Revueltas ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra, Fernando Lozano (Conductor)

This work

Work name
La noche de los Mayas
Work number
1939-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Forlane CI
Ivan Pastor
Xavier Villapando, Jonathan Wearn
Recording date
1980-01-01 00:00:00

The Composers

Silvestre Revueltas

Influenced by the street-music of his native Mexico without quoting actual folk song, Revueltas's music combines rhythmic drive with a colourful approach to instrumentation. His melodies are often repetitive and tuneful, though set in a dissonant texture, in a manner similar to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. His best-known work is the orgiastic orchestral crescendo Sensemayá.

Revueltas was born in the Mexican state of Durango on 31 December 1899. After initial training at Durango's Juárez Insitute, he studied violin and composition in Mexico City, and later in Austin, Texas and at the Chicago Musical College. During his early career as a violinist and conductor, Revueltas spent a great deal of time in the US, playing in a San Antonio theatre orchestra and conducting in Mobile, Alabama.

In 1929 Revueltas was recalled to Mexico City by Chávez to become assistant conductor of the Mexico Symphony Orchestra. During these years (1929-35) he composed works for the orchestra to perform and taught violin and chamber music at the Conservatory. The remainder of his career was spent teaching, though he toured Spain in 1937 and allied himself with the Republican cause. He died in Mexico City on 5 October 1940, his early death caused by alcoholism.

Revueltas's colourful and picturesque music, with its rhythmic complexities and bold lines, often reveals a wry, even cynical, sense of humour. His works for orchestra continue to occupy a place in the repertoire, though only Sensemayá is regularly programmed outside Mexico. He also wrote songs, chamber music, and film music.

Track listing

  • Noche de los mayas: Molto sostenuto 7:17 min
  • Noche de Jaranas Scherzo 6:44 min
  • Noche de Yucatan: Andante espressivo 17:55 min


Revueltas's most famous music is probably his film score to the 1939 Mexican film La noche de los Mayas (The Night of the Mayas), directed by Chano Ureta.

Variously described as a Mexican version of the music of StravinskyCopland or Waxman, the film score was arranged into an orchestral suite of four movements by Jose Limantour in 1959; it has enjoyed regular performances, especially in recent years as the revival of interest in Revueltas's music continues.

The Scherzo, with its local colour and dance rhythms, sounds very like Copland's El Salon Mexico, and contrasts with the lush romanticism of La noche de Yucatan's opening. The finale, La noche de encantaiento, is a set of wild variations on a theme with screeching brass and explosive percussion. Listen out for the big conch solo in this South American counterpart to the violence of The Rite of Spring.