Tag Archives: Col. Antonio Buenaventura

Philippine Classical Music (3 of 5)

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American Period (1898-1946)

A co-educational system of public education was introduced by the American colonizers. Filipino and foreign folksongs were taught by rote throughout the country. American jazz and film music gained a foothold among the younger generation. European classical music and a new method of piano pedagogy were introduced by Sister Baptista Battig, a German Benedictine missionary who studied with Ludwig Deppe in Germany. In 1908, she founded the music school of the St. Scholastica’s College where there influence was lasting.

The Conservatory of Music of the University of the Philippines was established in 1916 to counteract the onslaught of American jazz and to raise the standards of performance and public appreciation for fine classical music. The first two directors were Wallace George and Robert L. Schofield, succeeded in 1926 by Alexander Pippay, a Viennse conductor/composer who introduced changes in the curriculum and appointed European artists in the teaching staff. He resigned in 1931 and founded the Manila Academy of Music.

Francisco Santiago (1881-1983), Santiago formed a triumvirate of composers known for their sense of nationalism, teachings and compositions. They wrote works n the larger forms: sonata, concerto, symphony, symphonic poems, mostly based on folk themes.

Founded in 1903 under the direction of Walter H. Loving, the Philippine Constabulary Band carried a long tradition of brass bands dating back to the 19th century. The PC Band gained international recognition when it won the first prize at the St. Louis Exposition in Missouri in 1904.   It gave regular Sunday concerts at the Luneta park. The PC Band was further recognized in 1945 by col. Antonino Buenaventura and became a convertible symphonic band, continuing to date with involvement in varied civic and cultural activities. Provincial bands have become the purveyor of classical music throughout the country, and an integral part of town fiestas as well as a laboratory for young Filipino composers today.

A forerunner of the Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO), the Constabulary Civic Orchestra was founded in 1926 by Alexander Lippay with the PC Band and faculty and students of the UP Conservatory of Music as members. The formal organization of MSO took place in 1932 through the efforts of Trinidad F. Legarda to bring music of the masters to the masses.   An outgrowth of the MSO is the Manila Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Sergio Z. Esmilla, which holds its concert season at PCIBank in Makati. 

The first Filipino artists to win international recognition abroad was soprano Jovita Fuentes, Isang Tapales, Merceds Matias, bass Jose Mossessgeld Santiago-Font, and violinists Ramon Tapales, Ernesto Vallejo and Luis Valencia. – Dr. Lucrecia R. Kasilag

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