Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional & Luis Herrera
Biographie Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional & Luis Herrera
Marcos José Luis Herrera de la Fuente
was born in Mexico City on 25 April 1916. He died on 5 December 2014. Orchestra conductor, musical palaeographer, composer, pianist, violinist, storyteller and creator of institutions and orchestras. One of the most important figures of 20th century Mexican culture.
His father had studied violin and, together with his grandfather, sang, it was said, with an exceptional voice. He began his formal musical training in 1924 (taking piano lessons with María Olvera, Modesto Sáenz and María Teresa Elorduy), at the Beethoven Academy in Texcoco. In 1930 he entered the Faculty of Music (at first it was so called) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he studied musical composition with Estanislao Mejía, José F. Vázquez and finally with Rodolfo Halffter, and at the same time he took classes at the Johann Sebastian Bach Academy of Maestro Carlos del Castillo. In 1932 he studied violin with Luis G. Saloma.
In 1934 he began to study singing with David Silva, in 1947 with Jesús Mercado. In 1948 he began studying conducting with Sergiu Celibidache, who saw him in Mexico leading the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, conducting the premiere of his work Dos movimientos para orquesta. He came to the dressing room after the performance, pointed at him and said: "You are a conductor, everything you did was wrong, but still, the orchestra was with you, with your baton. This is the essential condition of the conductor; no matter what he does, the musicians go with him", and offered to give him lessons. In November 1950, he set sail for Europe to try to become a pupil of Hermann Scherchen, who finally accepted Herrera de la Fuente after he passed an ordeal that included learning Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale by heart. The Mexican artist took up residence in Zurich, Switzerland.
Although he was interested in literature (he was a youthful friend of Rubén Bonifaz Nuño, Juan Rulfo, Miguel Guardia and Juan José Arreola) and architecture, he ended up devoting himself to music. He had a slight and fleeting approach to musicology when he worked with Baltasar Samper and Jesús Bal y Gay and transcribed, in its entirety, the Codex del Convento del Carmen with music from the 17th century, but he was attracted by the baton and the podium.
In the mid-1950s it was said in the corridors and in the main hall of the Palacio de Bellas Artes that Maestro Herrera de la Fuente was a very progressive, versatile and avant-garde musician. After strong political and administrative problems, Luis Herrera de la Fuente asked for the suspension of the staff of the National Symphony Orchestra (OSN) and submitted the positions to a competition with a salary increase.
He thus began the tenure of a renewed orchestra. In 1958 Herrera de la Fuente took the OSN on tour to Brussels, Paris, London and New York, to Carnegie Hall. The programme for that tour consisted of Mexican music, headed by Moncayo's Huapango.
In the more than seventy years of his professional career, he played an important role in the musical development of his country as a creator of musical institutions, as a composer and as chief conductor of several of the main Mexican symphony orchestras; among others, the National Symphony Orchestra (of which he was chief conductor for 18 years), the symphony orchestras of Minería, Xalapa, Jalisco and the Youth Orchestra of the State of Veracruz. He was promoter of institutions such as the Orquesta de Cámara de Radio UNAM, the Orquesta de Cámara del INBA, the Filarmónica de las Américas, the Instituto Superior de Música del Estado de Veracruz, the Fundación para la Grabación de Música Mexicana and the Sinfónica Juvenil de Veracruz. The latter won, in 2003, the annual Specialised Critics Diploma as the Best Music Ensemble of the Year.
His recordings of Mexican orchestral music, mainly those he made with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, are a must for audiences wishing to delve into the national repertoire.
He was the conductor of three orchestras outside his native country: the symphony orchestras of Peru, Chile and the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted more than one hundred orchestras in several major cities in Europe, North, Central and South America, Israel and New Zealand.
National Prize of Sciences and Arts in the area of Fine Arts, awarded by the Mexican government in 2005.
National tribute organised by the National Council for Culture and the Arts and the Government of Mexico City, where he was awarded the Fine Arts Medal (1996).
Full member of the Mexican Seminar of Culture, which awarded him the José Vasconcelos Gold Medal in 2003.
In May 2011 he conducted the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra and premiered three of his own works: the Concerto for piano and orchestra, the Concertante for cello and orchestra, and the Symphony No. 2.
He is the author of the autobiographical book La música no viaja sola (Fondo de Cultura Económica), of the essay Música y vida (published in the book Pensamiento moderno de México, by Editorial Porrúa), and of Notas falsas, initially published by Breve Fondo Editorial and, in a second edition, by the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.
Among the awards he has received are the Bellas Artes Medal, the Medalla al Mérito Ciudadano awarded by the Legislative Assembly of Mexico City, and the Premio Nacional de Ciencias y de las Artes de México. He holds Honorary Doctorates in Arts and Humanities from the University of Oklahoma and the University of the Americas. Knight of the Order of King Leopold of Belgium. He is the first musician to have received the Presea Cervantina, in 2010.
Some of his most outstanding works are Fantasía en do menor, Preludio breve en do menor, Dos movimientos para orquesta, the ballet La estrella y la sirena, the ballet Fronteras, the Preludio a Cuauhtémoc, the Sonata for strings, the Sonatina for solo cello, the First Symphony and String Quartets, the Second Symphony, a Concerto for piano and orchestra, a Concertante for cello and orchestra, and the symphonic work M-30, commissioned by the Orquesta de Minería.
Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional
Founded in 1928 by composer Carlos Chávez, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México is the most important musical ensemble in Mexico. The orchestra has won numerous awards, including a 2002 Latin Grammy nomination for Best Classical Album. Its principal conductors have included José Pablo Moncayo, Luis Herrera de la Fuente, Sergio Cárdenas, Francisco Savín, Arturo Diemecke and, since 2007, Carlos Miguel Prieto. Legendary musicians who have conducted the orchestra include Heitor Villa-Lobos, Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Krzysztof Penderecki, Otto Klemperer, Pierre Monteux, Sergiu Celibidache, Leonard Bernstein, and Sir Georg Solti. On its most recent tour, under music director Carlos Miguel Prieto, the orchestra played to great acclaim in the most prestigious halls of Europe, including the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, and Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, among others.