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Representing the Good NeighborMusic, Difference, and the Pan American Dream$
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Carol A. Hess

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199919994

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199919994.001.0001

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The Good Neighbor Onstage

The Good Neighbor Onstage

Carlos Chávez’s H.P. and Dialectical Indigenism

Chapter:
(p.50) 3 The Good Neighbor Onstage
Source:
Representing the Good Neighbor
Author(s):

Carol A. Hess

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199919994.003.0003

This chapter explores the explicitly Pan Americanist ballet H.P. (Horsepower), with a score by Chávez and sets and costumes by Diego Rivera. In depicting the technologically advanced North with modernist machine music and the fertile South with salon-type, body-conscious Latin American dances, Chávez, at first blush, would seem to be enshrining north-south difference. Yet musical and visual elements of H.P. embrace sameness through a phenomenon the cultural historian Jeffrey Belnap calls “dialectical indigenism,” which proclaims the continued presence of indigenous culture in modern technology. Likewise the Chávez enthusiast Paul Rosenfeld masculinized the habitually feminized South in H.P. with his customary panegyrics. Ultimately, however, Chávez returned almost immediately to ur-classicism, resulting in the Sinfonía India, his best-known work. Considered “exotic-primitivistic” in the 1970s, the Sinfonía India inspired a series of sameness-embracing paeans from critics the stature of Colin McPhee and John Cage, all of whom found little to exoticize.

Keywords:   Diego Rivera, H.P. (Horsepower), Carlos Chávez in the United States, dialectical indigenism, Sinfonía India, Leopold Stokowski, machine music, American musical identity, race, mestizaje

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