Rosa Mercedes Ayarza: the woman who rescued the Creole musical tradition of Peru

Rosa Mercedes Ayarza: the woman who rescued the Creole musical tradition of Peru
Rosa Mercedes Ayarza: the woman who rescued the Creole musical tradition of Peru
Rosa Mercedes Ayarza was crucial to the preservation of “La concheperla”, one of the first marineras whose transcription ensured its cultural continuity. (BNP)

Creole music is an important part of our identity as Peruvians. But as it is done now, there are some who are dedicated not only to propagating it, but also to preserving it for future generations.

One of those main characters who have made true gems from more than 100 years ago reach our days is Rosa Mercedes Ayarza Morales who was a prominent Peruvian composer and singing teacher who dedicated her life to preserving and promoting the traditional music of our country.

Among his many achievements, the transcription and preservation of the marinera stands out. “The concheperla”one of the first of its kind, with lyrics by Abelardo Gamarra “El Tunante” and a melody by José Alvarado “Alvaradito”.

Rosa Mercedes Ayarza, composer and singing teacher, played an essential role in preserving traditional Peruvian music for future generations. (Javier Ugarriza)

Born in Lima on July 8, 1881, from an early age, Rosa Mercedes He showed an exceptional talent for music. At the age of eight, he made his debut at the ancient Politeama theatre and at fourteen he was already directing church choirs.

His musical training was provided by Claudio Rebagliatiwho gave him singing and piano lessons. Ayarza stood out as a recital performer and combined teaching with directing zarzuelas.

Among his most notable students were Lucrecia Sarria and Armando Villanueva, as well as artists who would achieve international renown at La Scala in Milan, such as Alejandro Granda, Luis Alva and Ernesto Palacio.

Although he never abandoned pure music, he focused much of his work on exploring rhythms, melodies and folk motifs. He founded the National School of Lyrical Artwhich was later integrated into the National Conservatory of Music, and created the first Peruvian Society of Authors and Composers.

Ayarza collaborated with numerous institutions and dedicated himself to the rescue of popular tradition, turning the street songs of street vendors into “The Pregones of Lima”which were passed down from generation to generation since the 17th century.

Rosa Mercedes Ayarza’s musical legacy includes more than 300 pieces that encompass melodic songs and Creole rhythms that celebrate Peruvian folklore. (GEC)

The work of Rosa Mercedes Ayarza It is vast and varied, with more than 300 compositions that reflect his dedication to music. In his extensive catalogue, there are songs of great lyricism and melodic delicacy such as “El picaflor”, “Tu ausencia es un silencio”, “Si mi voz muriera en tu tierra” and “Canción de cuna”.

Also noteworthy are pieces with a marked popular character and warm rhythm such as the celebrations “Congorito” and “Negrito Congo”, proclamations such as “La picaronera” and “Frutero Congo”, and zamacuecas such as “La jarra de oro”, “La rosa y el clavel”, “La cambalachera” and “Viva Castilla”, among others.

In the field of marinera, his compositions “I’m Peruvian”“Moreno pintan a Cristo” and “San Juan de Amancaes” stand out along with the tondero “Amor dolor”. Ayarza also made important compilations of Peruvian folklore, and in 1962 she was named “Living Relic of Folklore” in recognition of her hard work.

Rosa Mercedes Ayarza has left us a vast musical legacy with hundreds of compositions that reflect the cultural richness of Peruvian Creole music. (Filarmonia)

One of the most significant achievements of Rosa Mercedes Ayarza It was the transcription into sheet music of “La concheperla”, a marinera that, thanks to his work, was preserved for future generations.

She was also a pioneer in bringing a folklore show from the Peruvian coast to the Municipal Theatre of Lima in 1938, breaking with the restrictions that until then had prohibited Peruvian popular music from this prestigious stage.

He promoted numerous shows that revived the richness and color of the Lima pregones and other Creole manifestations, with memorable productions such as “Lima enchantment” and “The Ancient Pregones of Lima.” These productions became some of his most celebrated works.

His life was marked by a deep commitment to the music and folklore of his country, leaving an invaluable legacy that continues to influence the Peruvian culture.

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