January 2013

The hymn "14 de Septiembre" and seven forgotten hymns

During the first decades of the last century, Cochabamba was just a little rural town chasing after the dream of becoming a modern city. The progressive souls of land and property owners at that time dreamed of a railway which became reality as soon as 1917. In 1907, even a center of musical education was established: the Conservatorio Musical “Cochabamba” conducted by the master Teófilo Vargas. The colonial festivity dedicated to the patron of the city, San Sebastián, did not represent the new liberal spirit, and would begin to be replaced by some departmental anniversaries which showed invented modern traditions and inspired renewed myths.

By: Walter Sánchez C.
Instituto de Investigaciones
Antropológicas
UMSS


Teofilo Vargas with the first directive of the Conservatory of Cochabamba in 1910

At the end of the newly established traditions, the departmental authorities designed a row of events intended to celebrate the first centenary of the liberating achievement initiated the 14th of September 1810. They also felt the need of equipping themselves with a new acoustic emblem: a “departmental hymn” which represented the patriotic feeling of the citizens. With this objective, the Concejo Municipal in the beginning of 1910 called for a contest of which the “Himno a Cochabamba” would result. It was hoped that this hymn would be a roaring image which would not only accompany the principal festivities and shows that took place the 14th of September of that year, but would also become kind of a symbol for regional identity.

After launching this announcement, seven compositions were presented before the jury to considerate, of which, once put in front of the examination board, the “Himno de Cochabamba” with music by master Daniel Albornoz and lyrics by Ricardo Martínez C., is not to be taken into consideration, as the writer of this ultimate piece is a member of the jury (“El Ferrocarril”, 23-VIII-1910). The other hymns are revised and later, after a thorough consideration, the evaluation committee decides to close the contest. A small note in the morning paper “El Ferrocarril” of the same day, highlights this decision, on top explaining the confirmation of the committee: “The examination board was organized by the following people: President, doctor Luis F. Guzmán.- Members.- Mr. Avelino Aguirre.- Félix A. del Granado.- Ricardo Martínez C. and Demetrio Canelas. After a relatively short debate, the jury came to the conclusion that none of the presented works reunited the requirements and the commission limited itself to only take into consideration three of the compositions which respectively will be known under the pseudonym of Riego, Patriota and Ayóx”. It is a hymn, which was chosen by a jury with no musicians.

Regretting the verdict, the struggle for a hymn was opened to the public. The local newspapers in the following days published verses and scores of the different hymns (eg. “El Ferrocarril”, 23-VIII-1910; 2-IX-1910; 9-IX-1910; brochures from IX-1910, etc.), and therefore submitted them to the citizens and to “other valued opinions” (“vates”, masters of schools and doctors). In this way, the paper “El Heraldo” publishes the score of “Himno a Cochabamba” of master Albornoz, “a gift” as it was praised in by “El Ferrocarril” in its edition of the 8th of February 1911, with the following note: “The distinguished chairman of the national press “El Heraldo” of Cochabamba has send us a luxurious edition of “el Himno a Cochabamba”, with lyrics by poet Ricardo Martínez and music by Mr. Daniel Albornoz.- It is a splendid gift with which he rewards his followers in the new year”. The possible hymn, recorded in Cochabamba in 1910 and with a 4/4 beat and martial rhythm has the following inscription: “A gift to its subscribers by the newspaper ¨El Heraldo¨”. The other hymns, like the ones by the masters Germán Matienzo or Félix Aranibar, did not hesitate to appear in hand-written scores, hoping to be performed and intoned in the different schools- and therefore leave a mark in the memory of the kids and in the civic-patriotic decision of the teachers- and for the different local bands, this way being chosen for popular mandates.


The directive of the Conservatory of Cochabamba in 1952, Teofilo Vargas in a wheelchair

In this context of controversy, in October 1912, the master Teófilo Vargas decides to return to the municipal organ, by means of a memorial to the board, to ask that his hymn “14 de Septiembre”, composed and “dedicated to the martial parade of the Guardias Nacionales of 1901”, would be approved as the official “Himno Departamental”. In between his indicated reasons he exposes the following: “1a. It has been 11 years since the people sing it as the only Himno Departamental, which also involves a historical remembrance and has the benefit of the priority of this idea. 2a. the goodness of this song, had prevailed on its own, well-deserved having two versions by that time. 3a. it is the only hymn that can be played by students of all establishments, municipals and fiscals of the department, and 4a. Both music and lyrics fit all the required conditions, being proof of this is its popularization in the whole republic”.

Receiving this note, the council consulted the commission of instruction about the consideration, which later after a “throughout study”, raised the 3rd of September 1914, announces the following: “The hymn titled “14 memorial to the board, to ask that his hymn “14 de Septiembre”, composed and “dedicated to the martial parade of the Guardias Nacionales of 1901”, would be approved as the official “Himno Departamental”. In between his indicated reasons he exposes the following: “1a. It has been 11 years since the people sing it as the only Himno Departamental, which also involves a historical remembrance and has the benefit of the priority of this idea. 2a. the goodness of this song, had prevailed on its own, well-deserved having two versions by that time. 3a. it is the only hymn that can be played by students of all establishments, municipals and fiscals of the department, and 4a. Both music and lyrics fit all the required conditions, being proof of this is its popularization in the whole republic”.

Receiving this note, the council consulted the commission of instruction about the consideration, which later after a “throughout study”, raised the 3rd of September 1914, announces the following: “The hymn titled “14 de Septiembre”… which lyrics are written by the late doctor Benjamin Blanco and music by Mister Teófilo Vargas, has served in this decade (1901) all municipal establishments with great applause; and thinking about the contest held in 1910… and to remember the distinguished poet Blanco, and to encourage the artist Mister Vargas, they believe this request should be postponed… unless the major opinion of the H. Concejo”. “Visto en Sala” and later one solely debate about the urgency of having a departmental acoustic emblem, on the 9th of September that year, the members of the Concejo Municipal officially declared “to use in schools dependant on the H. Concejo, the “Himno Departamental de Cochabamba (sic), with lyrics by Mister Benjamin Blanco and music by the master Mister Teófilo Vargas”.

With such a decision, the other seven hymns quickly started to be forgotten and the hymn “14 de Septiembre” became the new sounding emblem of the department of Cochabamba.

MUSEO DE ARQUEOLOGIA

Instituto de
Investigaciones
Antropológicas

Translated by
Mikkel Behnke

Calendario ENERO 2013

> CURSO DE LITERA TURA BOLIVIANA
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