Manuel Ponce


Fun Facts

Check out our collection of interesting and (some) little known facts about Ponce.


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Manuel María Ponce Cuéllar was a Mexican composer active in the 20th century. His work as a composer, music educator and scholar of Mexican music connected the concert scene with a usually forgotten tradition of popular song and Mexican folklore. Many of his compositions are strongly influenced by the harmonies and form of traditional songs.

Early Years

Born in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Manuel Maria Ponce moved with his family to the city of Aguascalientes only a few weeks after his birth, and lived there until he was 15 years old.

He was famous for being a musical prodigy; according to his biographers, he was barely four years of age when, after having listened to the piano classes received by his sister, Josefina, he sat in front of the instrument and interpreted one of the pieces that he had heard. Immediately, his parents had him receive classes in piano and musical notation.

Traveling Years

In 1901, Ponce entered the National Conservatory of Music, already with a certain prestige as a pianist and composer. There he remained until 1903, the year in which he returned to the city of Aguascalientes. This was only the beginning of his travels. In 1904, he traveled to Italy for advanced musical studies at the Conservatorio Giovanni Battista Martini in Bologna.

He studied in Germany as a pupil of Martin Krause at the Stern conservatory in Berlin between 1906 and 1908.

Teacher at the National Conservatory

After his years abroad, Ponce returned to Mexico to teach piano and music history at the National Conservatory of Music from 1909 to 1915 and from 1917 to 1922. He spent the years between, 1915 to 1917, in Havana, Cuba.

In 1912, he composed his most famous work, Estrellita (Little Star), which is not a normal love song, as is usually thought, but "Nostalgia Viva" (live nostalgia).

That same year, Ponce gave in the Arbeau Theater a memorable concert of Mexican popular music which, though it scandalized ardent defenders of European classical music, became a landmark in the history of the national song.

Heitor Villa-Lobos, who met Ponce in Paris in the 1920s, wrote:

"I remember that I asked him at that time if the composers of his country were as yet taking an interest in native music, as I had been doing since 1912, and he answered that he himself had been working in that direction. It gave me great joy to learn that in that distant part of my continent there was another artist who was arming himself with the resources of the folklore of his people in the struggle for the future musical independence of his country."

With his work promoting music of the country and writing melodías like Estrellita, A la orilla de un palmar, Alevántate, La Pajarera, Marchita el Alma, and Una Multitud Más, Ponce gained the title "Creator of the Modern Mexican Song." He was also the first Mexican composer to project popular music onto the world stage: Estrellita, for example, has been part of the repertoire of the main orchestras of the world and countless singers, although quite often the interpreter ignores the origin of the song as well as its author.

In 1947, Ponce received the National Science and Arts Prize.  

Ponce was married to Clementina Maurel. He died in 1948 in Mexico City. His body was buried in the Roundhouse of the Illustrious Men in the Pantheon of Dolores in Mexico City. In his honor there is a board of recognition by the state of Aguascalientes at the base of the column of The Exedra, next to the fountain from a spring dedicated to this musical poet, in the city of Aguascalientes where he grew up and first studied music.

Recent Additions

Antonio Mascolo -

Antonio Mascolo - "Finale" by Manuel Maria Ponce

Manuel Ponce - Tres Canciones Populares Mexicanas (Daniele Lazzari, guitar)

Manuel Ponce - Tres Canciones Populares Mexicanas (Daniele Lazzari, guitar)

Narciso Yepes - Concierto del Sur de Ponce (2)

Narciso Yepes - Concierto del Sur de Ponce (2)

Scherzino Mexicano, composer: Manuel Ponce

Scherzino Mexicano, composer: Manuel Ponce

Manuel Ponce: Preludio / guitar: Jeff Carter

Manuel Ponce: Preludio / guitar: Jeff Carter

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