Pinturas de Tamayo

Steven Stucky

Performing Ensemble: Orchestra
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

In April 1991 I visited the Rufino Tamayo Museum in Mexico City. I had never heard of Tamayo, but immediately I found myself drawn to his work, and I stood for a long while, transfixed by his painting "La gran galaxia" (The Great Galaxy). Indeed, that first encounter with his vibrant, mysterious, deeply human paintings is indelibly fixed in my memory as one of the great artistic experiences of my life.

Born in Oaxaca in 1899, Tamayo is considered by many to be Mexico's greatest painter since Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. His reputation is international, and, though he spent most of his life in Mexico City, he lived for twenty-nine years in Paris and New York. His work blends elements of European modernism (especially, I would say, echoes of Braque and Picasso) with indigenous Mexican motifs (Tamayo came from a Zapotecan family, and he was a student of pre-Columbian art). He died in June 1991, only two months after I first saw his work. Since then I have studied as many of his paintings and learned as much about him as I could, and when the Chicago Symphony invited me to write a new work for them, I decided to use the opportunity to pay homage to him in the only way I can, by making my own work of art.

The five short movements that comprise "Pinturas de Tamayo" are not translations of interpretations of the paintings. There are a handful of literalisms, to be sure - the suggestion of guitar in "Sleeping Musicians", shrill woodwinds dominating "Friends of the Birds", the continually rising gestures of "Women Reaching for the Moon". But the music is not programmatic in the nineteenth-century manner of, say, Richard Strauss. Instead, I took formal elements from the paintings and my own emotional, poetic responses to them and simply wrote my own kind of music embodying these same elements.

Available on Rental

Scores & Parts

Pinturas De Tamayo - Full Score - Study

Additional Information

Composition Date 1995
Duration 18:00
Orchestration 3(2Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(EbCl. B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3(Picc.) 3 3 1; 3Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
Premiere 28th March, 1996. Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Gielen.


1. Amigas de los pajaros (Friends of the Birds)
2. Anochecer (Sunset)
3. Mujeres alcanzando la luna (Women Reaching for the Moon)
4. Musicas dormidas (Sleeping Musicians)
5. La gran galaxia (The Great Galaxy)

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