Vera Wolkowicz

Vera Wolkowicz


Vera Wolkowicz est lauréate d'une bourse Marie Sklodowska-Curie de deux ans. Son projet est intitulé : "La musique savante latino-américaine comme invention européenne : la fabrique des compositeurs latino-américains à Paris, 1880-1930". Sa recherche s'intéresse à la construction des nationalismes musicaux en Amérique latine pendant les premières décennies du XXe siècle. Elle est l'autrice de Música de América. Estudio preliminar y edición crítica (Buenos Aires: Teseo and Biblioteca Nacional, 2012), et d'un livre à paraître issu de sa recherche doctorale : Inca Music Reimagined: Indigenist Discourses in Latin American Art Music, 1910-1930 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022).


Vera Wolkowicz's research explores the musical education of Latin American composers in Paris to reveal the part it played in the construction of nationalist art music between 1880 and 1930. While studying at the French conservatoires, Latin American composers became aware that to succeed in the realm of Western art music they had paradoxically to embrace the very characteristics that distinguished them from European composers. At the same time they aimed at the "universality" enjoyed by their European peers. By documenting the education of composers from different parts of Latin America in conservatories such as the Conservatoire de Paris, the Schola Cantorum or the École Normale de Musique de Paris, and by analyzing the work and the reception of these composers' music in Europe, Vera Wolkowicz seeks to address the prejudices and problems of identity that they had to face. Her work is situated within recent scholarship on canonic discourses and decolonial theories of peripherality and subalternity.

Research project

Throughout the nineteenth century, music education in Latin America evolved in direct relationship to the presence of European musicians touring or settling there. However, this education was typically insufficient to produce professional composers among those who were born on Latin American soil and, towards the end of the century, many aspiring composers sought to supplement their formal music education abroad. Economic growth and nation- state consolidation of many Latin American countries around the 1880s enabled composers to self-finance or obtain governmental funding to pursue this education abroad. This financial aid came to an end around the beginning of World War I, and was reinstated after it, producing a new wave of migrations of Latin American composers during the 1920s.

The majority took the opportunity to learn in well-established music conservatories of the “Old World”. From the many cities they selected, most of them chose Paris due to its well-known cosmopolitanism. They mainly registered at the Conservatoire de Paris, the Schola Cantorum and the École Normale de Musique de Paris, but some of them complemented their education, or instead only chose to take private lessons with famous music teachers such as César Franck, Paul Dukas and Nadia Boulanger (e.g. the Argentinean Alberto Williams was a student of Franck, the Mexican Manuel María Ponce of Dukas, and Cuban Alejandro García Caturla of Boulanger).       While carrying their own previous ideas about what their music should or should not be, when Latin American composers arrived in Paris and started to engage with French musicians and pedagogues, they became aware of their own “otherness” and were thus confronted with their musical identities: if they wrote “universal” music (which in fact meant writing in a Western European, or “universal” style as they called it), their European peers reduced them to the category of “imitators”; however, according to western teachers, using folkloric elements (i.e. looking for elements that would make their musics sound “exotic” or “different”) in their musical compositions were an avenue for their work attaining the status of “universal”. Thus, many of them pursued the idea that by writing “national” or “continental” (i.e. “American” or “Latin American”) music, they could join a more “universal” canon, and consequently they started to explore folk and/or indigenous musics of the past, or invented melodies that would sound “Latin American”.
 This project seeks to uncover for the first time the ways in which the transatlantic connections between Europe and South America and music were fundamental to the construction of national and continental identities of Latin Americans composers.

By charting the experience and education of Latin American composers in Paris, and interpreting this alongside the musical compositions created during their studies, her project will probe the dynamics of identity construction of Latin American art music and also produce a fresh picture and systemic study of Latin American composers’ musical identities that repositions them as fundamentally subaltern and inscribed into the peripheries of the West.

Vera Wolkowicz is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Centre de Recherches sur les Arts et le Langage, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris, France). She holds a PhD and an MPhil in Music from the University of Cambridge (UK) and a BA from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina). Her research focuses on Latin American musical nationalisms during the first decades of the twentieth century, and Italian opera in mid-nineteenth-century Buenos Aires. She has been an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Musical Research 2018-2019 (Royal Holloway, University of London), and is currently an Affiliated Researcher at the Instituto de Artes del Espectáculo “Dr. Raúl H. Castagnino” (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires) as part of the 2020-2022 project: “Historias socio-culturales del acontecer musical de la Argentina (1890-2000)”. 

  She is the author of Inca Music Reimagined (Oxford University Press, 2022), Música de América. Estudio preliminar y edición crítica (Teseo and Biblioteca Nacional, 2012) as a result of the Research Award: “Hacia el Bicentenario” granted by the Argentine National Library (Biblioteca Nacional Argentina “Mariano Moreno”), and has edited with Silvina Luz Mansilla the unpublished scores of Argentine composer Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000) (Mansilla and Wolkowicz, Carlos Guastavino. Músicas inéditas. Instituto Nacional de Musicología “Carlos Vega”, 2012). She has also contributed essays to several journals and collected volumes, and has been invited to deliver papers at national and international conferences and seminars.




  • Inca Music Reimagined: Indigenist Discourses in Latin American Art Music, 1910–1930 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022)
  • Música de América. Estudio preliminar y edición crítica. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Biblioteca Nacional and Teseo, (2012)
  • Co-authored with Silvina Mansilla. Carlos Guastavino. Músicas inéditas. Buenos Aires: Instituto Nacional de Musicología “Carlos Vega”, (2012)

Refereed Journal Articles

  • “Entre la teoría y la praxis: Discursos acerca del pasado musical indígena y su utilización en las obras de Segundo Luis Moreno y Sixto María Durán a comienzos de siglo XX”, Sonocordia, 2/1 (2021), 35-56
  • “Opera as a Moral Vehicle: Situating Bellini’s Norma in the Political Complexities of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Buenos Aires”, Nineteenth-Century Music Review (2021), 1–23 doi:10.1017/S1479409820000506
  • “Indigenismo imaginario: representaciones incaicas a través de la ópera y el teatro en Argentina en los años 20”, Teatro XXI, 36 (2020), 91–106
  • Guest Editor of Special Issue: “La ópera en Latinoamérica” – “Introducción”, Revista Argentina de Musicología, 21/1 (March 2020), 13–15
  • “El día que Caruso no cantó: las compañías de ópera Bracale y Salvati en Lima (1920)”, Revista Argentina de Musicología, 21/1 (March 2020), 77–100
  • “Incan or Not? Building Ecuador’s Musical Past in the Quest for a Nationalist Art Music (1900–1950)”, The Journal of Musicology, 36/2 (Spring 2019): 228–260

Book Chapters

  • “Construyendo identidades nacionales: consideraciones acerca de lo folkórico, lo popular y lo erudito en la música latinoamericana (1900-1940)”, in La música popular en América latina, un actor de la historia, Gérard Borras and Julio Mendívil (eds.). Madrid: Silex (in press)
  • “Daniel Alomía Robles como restaurador de la música incaica”, in Identidades, liderazgos y transgresiones en la música peruana, Julio Mendívil and Raúl R. Romero (eds.). Lima: PUCP (in press)
  • “Músicos latinoamericanos en París: Un análisis de la revista Gaceta Musical (1928-1929)”, in En, desde y hacia las Américas. Músicas y migraciones transoceánicas, Victoria Eli Rodríguez, Javier Marín and Belén Vega Pichaco (eds.). Madrid: Ediciones Dykinson S. L. (2021), 253–266
  • “Identidades en construcción: La crítica musical en la revista cultural Nosotros de Buenos Aires (1907–1934 y 1936–1943)”, in Music Criticism 1900–1950, Jordi Ballester and Germán Gan Quesada (eds.). Turnhout: Brepols (2018), 89–109
  • “En busca de la identidad perdida: Los escritos de Gastón Talamón sobre música académica de y en Argentina en la revista Nosotros (1915–1934)”, in Música y construcción de identidades: poéticas, diálogos y utopías en Latinoamérica y España, Victoria Eli Rodríguez and Elena Torres Clemente (eds.). Madrid: Sociedad Española de Musicología (2018), 33–44
  • “La recepción de la ópera italiana en Buenos Aires a fines del período rosista: una polémica entre el Diario de la Tarde y el Diario de Avisos”, in Dar la nota. El rol de la prensa en la historia musical argentina (1848–1943), Silvina Mansilla (ed.). Buenos Aires: Gourmet Musical (2012), 21–60

Book Reviews

  •  “Belén Vega Pichaco, Ni la lira ni el bongó… La construcción de la Música Nueva en Cuba desde la órbita de Musicalia (1927-1946). Granada: Comares Música, 2021, 384 pp.”, Revista Musical Chilena (2022, in press)
  • “Marina Cañardo. Fábricas de músicas: Comienzos de la industria discográfica en la Argentina (1919–1930) (Buenos Aires: Gourmet Musical, 2017)”, Transposition. Musique et sciences sociales [online], 9 (2021), DOI: transposition.5837  
  • “Guillermina Guillamón. Música, política y gusto. Una historia de la cultura musical en Buenos Aires, 1817–1838 (Rosario, Santa Fe: Prohistoria, 2018)”, Música e Investigación, 28 (2020), 297–301
  • “Musicians in Transit: Argentina and the Globalization of Popular Music. By Matthew B. Karush”, Music & Letters, 98/3 (August 2017): 505–507
  • “Aníbal E. Cetrangolo, Ópera, barcos y banderas. El melodrama y la migración en Argentina (1880-1920) (Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2015)”, Il Saggiatorie Musicale, 24/2 (2017): 339–343