Peru Music

Peru Music and Cinema


The Peruvian musical tradition represents a datum of exceptional interest in the panorama of South America. The music of the Incas, which was initially based on the pentatonic scale but ended up welcoming the heptatonic scale, had a notable and often decisive importance in the life of the community, both in its vocal and instrumental form. Precisely from the examination of the instruments, observed in the figures or found in archaeological excavations, it is possible to imagine a certain parallelism between the current music of the Andean region and its ancient form. It widely used drums of various types and of various sizes, rattles, some wind instruments (the perforated shell, the upright flute, the pan flute, etc.). All these instruments, in forms similar to the ancient ones, are still found among the Quechua and the Aymará, which represent the extreme ethnic and cultural indigenous survival, and constitute the foundation of their instrumental music, even if these populations today also use other instruments of import. It seems that the main purpose of Inca musical activity was connected to dance and therefore relied more on the control of rhythm and tempo than on melodic freedom. The current dances of the Andean region show open points of contact with the Inca ones, known through the bas-reliefs. Cultured music, brought to Peru by the Spaniards and conditioned by the missionary action of the Jesuits, developed for a long time almost exclusively in the context of the churches. by European musicians (mostly Spanish and Italian). Among the first emerged Juan de Araujo, chapel master of the cathedrals of Lima and La Plata and author of sacred compositions of complex writing, and Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco, chapel master of the cathedral of Lima and author of La púrpura de la rosa (1701), based on a text by Calderón de la Barca, considered the first opera composed and performed in America. During the first half of the century. The first known Creole musician was active in the 18th century, Father José de Orejón y Aparicio (1690-1765), who was responsible for original Baroque compositions. The start of the establishment of a Peruvian national school was given by Bernardo Alcedo (1798-1879), author of the national anthem, to whom the Academy of Music was dedicated in Lima at the beginning of the twentieth century, transformed in 1946 into National Conservatory. Nationalist composers were Carlos Enrique Pesta, author of the opera Atahualpa (1900), José M. Valle Riestra (1857-1925), a pupil of Gédalge in Paris and author of the opera Ollantay, who was the first on a national topic, Manuel Aguirre (1863-1951), Daniel Alomía Robles (1871-1942), Luis Dunker Lavalle (1874-1922), Vicente Estea (1884-1944), author of the autóctona Sinfonía. Roberto Carpio Valdés (1900-1986), Teodoro Valcárcel (1902-1942), Alfonso de Silva (1903-1937), Carlos Sánchez Málaga and, above all, José Asunción Silva, creator of Guaraní vocal forms. The foundation in 1938 of the National Symphony Orchestra marked a turning point in the development of Peruvian cultured music. Among the post-war musicians are Rosa Alarco, author of Retablo del encuentro, Enrique Iturriaga, remembered for the Canciones quechuas, Celso Garrido Lecca (b.1926), Jaime Díaz Orihuela (b.1927), Armando Guevara (b.1927), Enrique Pinilla (1927-1989), Francisco Pulgar Vidal (b.1929), Edgar Valcárcel (b.1932) and César Bolaños (b. 1932), who also devoted himself to electronic music. The so-called generations of the sixties and seventies continued in the musical research marked by their predecessors and aimed at the synthesis between indigenism, avant-garde and tradition: among the most interesting composers there are undoubtedly Pedro Seiji Asato, Douglas Tarnawiecki, José Sosaya Weckselman. The end of the century then highlighted the names of Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann, Carlos Ordoñez, Miguel Oblitas. Many of the performers (soprano, pianists, etc.) and some Peruvian conductors are also internationally renowned.


Almost non-existent at the time of the silent film, production consolidated in Lima in the period 1937-40 with a dozen titles by Amauta Films and a few others by smaller companies. In the 1950s, the Italian documentarians E. Gras and M. Craveri (The Empire of the Sun, 1956) acted in Peru, a country of South America defined by computergees, com, but more important was the birth of ʽ’Escuela del Cuzco “, thanks to the film club of the same name and a group of local filmmakers (M. Chambi, C. Villanueva, L. Figueroa) who, in a semi-documentary film like Kukuli, rediscovered indigenous language and traditions. In the mid-1960s, the monthly magazine Hablemos de cine was born, perhaps the best in Latin America. The most successful director was A. Robles Godoy (Ganaras el pan, 1965; En la selva no hay estrella, 1966; The green mural, 1970; Espejismo, 1973), but the most serious cultural influence was due to three films shot by foreigners: Amor en los Andes (1965), by the Japanese S. Hani, Aguirre furore di Dio (1972), by the German W. Herzog, El enemigo principal (1974), by the Bolivian J. Sanjinés. In the seventies the reformist political process favored a series of notable documentaries and the revival of the narrative film, culminating in 1977 with Los perros hambrientos di Figueroa, Muerte al amanecer by F. Lombardi (b.1947) and Kuntur Wachana (or Donde nacen los condores) by F. García, spoken in Quechua and welcomed by the popular public. In the wake of these results, also sanctioned by the Locarno, Berlin, Moscow and Biarritz festivals, Peruvian cinema has gained new momentum with the episodic film (Cuentos inmortales, 1978; Aventuras prohibidas, 1980), the story of social topicality (Abisa a los compañeros by F. Degregori; Muerte de un magnate by Lombardi, both from 1980), the cinema of peasant problems (Laulico, 1980, and El Case Huayanay, 1981, both by García; Yawar Fiesta, 1981, by Figueroa), the historical film (The Orozco family, 1982, by J. Reyes). Because of the tremendous economic difficulties, the production of the eighties and nineties decades has seen few changes, except for some feature of Lombardi (La boca del lobo, 1988). At the turn of the millennium there was a revival of the national film movement, thanks also to the birth of the Lima Film Festival (1997). The most active directors in recent years, in addition to Lombardi himself (Pantaleón y las visitadoras, 2000; Ojos que no ven, 2003; Mariposa negra, 2006), they are Augusto Tamayo (b.1953), Aldo Salvini (b.1964), Alberto Durant (b.1951) and the young Claudia Llosa, born in 1976, director of Madeinusa, 2006, awarded at the Sundance Festival; in 2009, with the film Il canto di Paloma, he won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

Peru Music