Nicanor Abelardo

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(To view the Filipino version of this article, click Nicanor Abelardo y Sta. Ana)


Nicanor Abelardo (7 February 1893 – 21 March 1934) was a pre-World War II Filipino composer known for his kundimans. He used musical influences from other countries to write songs for and about the Philippines.

Nicanor Abelardo

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Early Life and Education

Abelardo, born to a pair of artistically inclined parents, started showing signs of musicality at a young age. At age five, he learned the solfeggio and how to play the banduria from his father.

When he was eight years old, Abelardo composed a waltz, entitled "Ang Unang Buko", which he dedicated to his grandmother. By the time he was thirteen, he was also playing in a number of saloons in Manila. He began teaching in different barrio schools in San Ildefonso and San Miguel, Bulacan three years later.

In 1916, Nicanor began studying music at the UP Conservatory of Music under Guy F. Harrison. Eight years later, he was appointed to be the head of the composition department of the same school.

After a few more years, he began his own music boarding school, where the likes of Antonino R. Buenaventura, Alfredo Lozano and Lucino T. Sacramento went to study.

Abelardo died in 1934 at the age of 41.

Works

Other than putting up his own music school, Abelardo also redefined the classical way of writing kundimans using music ideas and concepts he picked up from other countries. His oeuvre is comprised of over 140 compositions, which include:

  • Mountain Suite
  • "Ang Aking Bayan"
  • The Historical Pageant
  • Processional March
  • Concerto in B Flat
  • "Nasaan ka, Irog?"
  • "Kundiman ng Luha"
  • "Magbalik Ka, Hirang!"
  • "Mutya ng Pasig"
  • "National Heroes' Day Hymn"
  • "Ikaw Rin"
  • "Bituing Marikit"
  • "Kung Ako'y Umibig"
  • "Doon Po sa Aming Bayan"
  • "Un Cuento de Lola Basiang"


Abelardo also composed the melody of "U.P. Naming Mahal", the official anthem of the University of the Philippines System. The hymn is played in Palma Hall (formerly the College of Arts and Sciences) regularly at seven in the morning, and is usually sung at the end of programs held in the university.

The College of Music in UP Diliman (Abelardo Hall) was named after him.

Awards and Citations

Abelardo received a number of awards for his musical works and contributions. Through his music school and students like Antonio Molina, Edgardo Herrera and Hilarion F. Rubio, he managed to guide other younger students in a way that would revitalize Filipino music. His former students made significant contributions to music, as well. A number of his followers were also named National Artists.

He also collaborated with writers like Jose Corazon de Jesus and Servando de los Angeles and singers Jovita Fuentes and Atang de la Rama. Nicanor was known to be one of the composers most favored by singers.

References