Events Listing

La batalla de Angostura (1847) and the Soundings of Manifest Destinies David F. Garcia (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 7:30PM

Location: MMaP Gallery

Tue, 14 Mar 2023 19:30:00 NDT - Tue, 14 Mar 2023 21:30:00 NDT

La batalla de Angostura (1847) and the Soundings of Manifest Destinies

David F. Garcia (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

 Tuesday, March 14, 2024, 7:30PM

Compared to the American Civil War, the United States’ intervention in Mexico from 1846 to 1848 occupies a marginal space in the collective historical memory of the country’s long 19th century. Music of that war is shrouded even more in a collective forgetting. Indeed, as Philip Bohlman has noted, “music functions powerfully to facilitate both remembering and forgetting,” and Mexican and US music of the Guerra de Intervención, as the war was known in Mexico at the time, serves as a particularly informative example of music functioning as a means of forgetting.

This lecture will explore music’s functions in narrating the war’s battles and in forgetting the war’s imperialist and racist underpinnings, at the time and since then. I focus on one battle, the crucial “Battle of Buena Vista,” known in Mexico as La batalla de Angostura, of February 22 and 23, 1847. US composers wrote and published piano pieces that narrated in music and text the events of this battle for domestic musicians and their listeners. In addition to the musical symbolism of warfare typical of mid-19th century piano salon music, several of these pieces also capture the sounds of the Mexican army’s military band, who reportedly played General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s favorite national music on the eve of what would become the war’s turning point.

In this talk, I draw from Mexican and US archival sources to argue that many destinies—Californio, Nuevo Mexicano, and Mexicano included—were and still are manifest in the sounds rendered in the battle music of the United States. I take this approach of excavating forgotten destinies to force back Mexican soundings into the historical spaces of the Mexican War, which as law historian Laura Gómez argues, was dominated in the Anglo-American imagination as a “moment of national triumph before the dark years of conflict over slavery that culminated in the Civil War.”

Come back to this page soon for announcements about more lectures in this year's series.