Back to article list

May 24, 2004


Jose Maceda, pianist, composer, ethnomusicologist, was born in Manila on January 31, 1971 to Judge Castro Maceda y Norona of Pila, Laguna and Concepcion Montserrat y Salamanca of Sta. Cruz and Nagcarlan, Laguna. He is the eldest of four boys. His younger siblings included the Jesuit Fr. Hernando Maceda (d. 1994), Atty. Adelfo (d. 1990) and businessman Emilio (d. 1976). From his father he acquired a penchant for reading and study. It was his mother, however, who encouraged and instilled in him a love for music and the arts.

His early musical training was received at the Academy of Music of Manila. The school was founded in 1930 by a board of trustees which included Jose Yulo, Alexander Lippay, Benito Legarda, Juan Nakpil and H.B McCoy. Lippay who had previously headed the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music, was the school’s director. The school offered an eight-year program of studies with piano, violin, cello, voice and composition as majors. Maceda’s principal piano teacher was Victorina Lobregat. Director Lippay taught him harmony and theory. He graduated with the highest honors in 1936.

After graduation Victorina Lobregat was determined to send Maceda abroad for further studies. At first it was planned that he be sent to Vienna to study under Emil Sauer, but a visiting pianist, Youra Guller, who heard him play, recommended instead Paris with Alfred Corotot as his mentor. With the help of music patrons and the Asociacion Musical de Filipinas of which Lobregat was co-founder, Maceda was sent to Paris. (It was this same cultural club that had given financial grants to violinist Ernesto Vallejo and opera singers Jovita Fuentes and Luisa Tapales). He left for Paris in 1937 staying four years at the Ecole Normale de Musique where he earned the Diplome de Virtuosite with distinction. Prior to graduation he had twice won first place in the school examinations.

He returned to Manila in 1941 just before the outbreak of World War II in the Philippines. His homecoming concert was presented by the Asociacion Musical. It included Bach-Busoni’s Organ Toccata in C Major, Beethoven’s Appasionata Sonata, Opus 57, Chopin’s Etudes Opus 25, No. 6 and 11, Scherzo Opus 39, No. 3, Liszt’s Campanella, Debussy’s Pour le Piano, Ravel’s Ondine, and Albeniz’s Navarra — a formidable program indeed and one that introduced to the Philippine audience a new style of French piano playing.

During the war years, he declined a teaching job in Manila, and because of the occupying Japanese army, he preferred to teach piano privately in Laguna. From Pila, he traveled by caretela to adjoining towns — Pagsanjan, Sta. Cruz, Calauan and San Pablo. Almost immediately after the liberation, he played a complete program in a recital at La Consolacion College on Mendiola Street, in one of the few remaining halls in war-torn Manila, before making a tour in Visayas. He used Jose Legarda’s concert grand, probably the only concert grand remaining in the city. For the Visayas, he took a ride in a U.S. Army plane with no seat to land in Tacloban, where he played in a solo recital for audience composed almost entirely of G.I.s. The concert was arranged by Judge Benitez’s family who had the only grand piano in the island. After Tacloban, he followed with other recitals in Catbalogan, Maasin and Cebu. When the U.P. Conservatory reopened, Maceda joined the music faculty teaching piano until his departure for the U.S. in 1964. His farewell concert took place at the University of Sto. Thomas Auditorium. The program included Bach-Bussoni’s Chaconne, Beethoven’s 32 Variations in C Minor, Chopin’s Ballade in F minor, 6 preludes and 8 Etudes, Liszt’s Campanella, Albeniz’s Triana, and Ravel’s Ondine and Toccata.

In San Francisco, Maceda studied piano with E. Robert Schmitz who was known for his pedagogy and interpretation of French works and from whom he has retained much of that musical thought.

In New York, Maceda studied musicology at Queen’s College and Columbia University from 1950-1952. It was the beginning of a new interest which led him to his first fieldwork and first encounter with Philippine traditional music. Upon his return to the Philippine he immediately did fieldwork. His initial publications, which first appeared in 1955, are indicative of the trend of his musical thinking — The Music of the Bukids of Mindoro, Hanunuo Music of the Philippines, Music — where east and west meet. His last public appearance as a pianist took place on February 9, 1957 at St.Scholastica’s Sta. Cecilia Auditorium. The program opened with three sonatas: Mozart’s Eb Sonata, K282, Chopin’s B flat minor Sonata and Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 7, Opus 83. The second part was devoted to French music–Debussy’s Ondie, Les fées sont d’ exquises danseueses, Etude pour les huilt doigts, Etude pour les Octaves and Ravel’s Ondine and Toccata. Though he has not appeared in a solo recital since then, Dr. Maceda continues to play the piano and loves to discuss and analyze with friends piano technique, style of interpretation and pedagogical approaches. He laments that Debussy’s Etudes and Bach’s Partitas are little played or understood.

His immersion in indigenous music includes not only that of the Philippines but also the musics of Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea. He traveled to Southeast Asia in 1959 on a Rockefeller Grant. in 1957-1958 he returned to the U.S. on a Guggenheim Grant and studied anthropology and ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Indiana University. In 1958 he took up musique concrete in Paris at the Radio Television Francaise where he worked with Pierre Schaeffer. A Rockefellar Grant in 1961-1963 brought him to the University of California in Los Angeles where he earned his Ph.D. in 1964, writing his dissertation on the Music of the Maguindanao.

In the ensuing years, Dr. Maceda pursued his field research and ventured into the realm of composition. He found inspiration in the old traditions of Asian music, molded by a philosophy and approach quite distinct from that Western music. Encourage by his experience when he visited Paris and Cologne in 1958, he slowly conceived of musical ideas that would lead to a departure from the classical European way of constructing music. His solid Western musical training helped him create new sound structures based on a different concept of time, melody, form, performance medium and the experimental dimension of music. His first compositions came in the 1960s: Ugma-Ugma, 1963; Agungan, 1965; Kubing, 1966 and Pagsamba, 1968.

Aside from composition and research, Dr. Maceda found time to organize concerts and also to take charge of the highly successful and significant Unesco International Musci Symposium in 1966. The concerts he organized and conducted introduced a heretofore unheard of mix of Avant-Garde and Asian music. The first of these unique concerts sponsored by the Music Promotion Foundation was held on November 27, 1964 at the Philam Life Auditorium. It featured Gong Music from Mindanao, Southern Chinese Classical Music, a Philippine premier of verse’s Integrates and Maceda’s first opus, Ugma-Ugma, for native instruments and chorus using blocks of sound alternating with tense, high voices.

In February 1966, the U.P. President’s Committee on Culture together with the Conservatory of Music, the Office of Research Coordination and the Social Science Research Council presented Music of Today. Conducted by Dr. Maceda the program opened with solo selections on the Maguindanaoan Kudyapi and solo selections on the Northern Chinese P’ipa. This was followed by Ravel’s Trois Poemes de Mallarme with Andrea Veneracion as soloist, Xenakis’ Achorripsis and Maceda’s Agungan. Agungan features decays, densities, colors, sounds struck with stick, hands and slidding palms from six gong families: agung, gandingan, gangsa, kulintang, Tirurai agung.

Another concert of Asian and Avant-Garde Music directed by Dr. Maceda celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the U.P Conservatory of Music in December 1966. In this concert solo playing and the use of particular scales on the kudyapi (boat lute), sulong (ring flute) and kulintang (gongs in a row) were contrasted against a group rendition using indefinite pitches as exemplified in Varese’s Ionization and Maceda’s Kubing (Music for Bamboo Percussion and Men’s Voices). In this work men’s voices are treated in various ways — as percussion sounds in the form of clicks and stops, glissandi, pitch levels of speech, trills, whispers and high-pitched calls. These voices are set against a background of low-volume attacks produced by zithers and raspings of scrappers with the sounds of bamboo tubes, buzzers and sticks serving as bridges between sections.

The 1966 International Symposium was unique in that musicological discussions focused on the musics of Asia-East and Southeast Asia. The four evening concerts featured a mix of traditional musics alongside avant-garde music. Thus they included solos in the Turkish santur, Philippine kudyapi, Vietnamise lute, Indian sitar, Thai ranat, Japanese koto, Philippin kulintang together with music of Boulez, Messiean, Takahashi, Kasilag, CageTon de Leeuw, Ichiyanagi, Chou Wen Chung, Xenakis and Maceda. Performing artists included such names as Ravi Shankar, Tran van Khe, Yugi Takashi, Hosseein Malek and Shigeao Kishibe. The list of speakers and panel members was virtually a who’s who in musicolgy: Mantle Hood, Ernst Heins, Harold Powers, Robert Garfias, Barbara Smith, David Morton, Narayana Menon, de Leeuw, van Khe, Rulan Chao pian, Kishibe, William Malm, Prasidh Silapabanlang, Liang Tsai-Ping, Lui Chi and Sun Pei Chang. The proceedings of this memorable symposium were published in Manila in 1971.

Each of these concerts organized by Dr. Maceda were landmarks in the history of modern Philippine music.
In 1968, Pagsamba was premiered at the U.P. Chapel of the Holy Sacrifice. It was performed again in Bonn in 1980 although with an incomplete number of performers. Twenty-eight years later, Pagsamba was performed in the same church on September 5, 1996. Even after 28 years, its impact was just as mesmerizing and astounding to the audience. Pagsamba calls for a mixed group of 100 voices uttering high and low pitches in dense and thin combinations; 25 male voices grouped into fives chanting disjointed phones; 100 instrumentalists each playing on separate instruments — whistle flutes, clappers, buzzers, scrappers and sticks; and 16 gongs (eight agung, eight gandingan) which provide the lower ranges as prolonged and short sound attacks. Space is also part of the structure of the composition. The performers are scattered among the audience, all facing the center of the circle. Thus each participant (audience or performer), wherever seated, receives as impact of sounds different from the other.

Another Rockefeller Grant in 1968 enabled Dr. Maceda to go to Brazil where he did research work on the candomble of Bahia. Meanwhile, the Department of Music Research (originally called the Department of Asian Music) had been established in 1964. By then Dr. Maceda had acquired a sizable number of taped music, field notes, photographs and instruments. A systematic cataloguing of the material was begun by Dr. Corazon C. Dioquino. Upon his return from Brazil, fieldwork was intensified made feasible by support principally from the National Research Council and partially by the Social Science Research Council. Under Dr. Maceda’s guidance, fieldworkers were sent all over the Philippines–Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan, the Visayas, northern and southern Luzon. Some text translation and music transcription were begun. Thus, the Music Archives containing material (tapes, photos, field notes, translations and transcriptions) is today the largest collection of musical Filipiniana in the world.

In the decade of the ’70s, Dr. Maceda’s compositions, like the Pagsamba, involved throngs of performers. Cassettes 100, first performed at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) lobby in 1971, was written for 100 participants carrying cassette recorders with pre-taped music moving about in a simple choreography. Ugnayan (1974) consisted of prepared music aired by 20 radio stations. Thousands of people with a radius of 100 kilometers from Manila played their transistor radios in parks and listened to a meditative music from their own transistors. In Manila, the main venue for the work was at Luneta where hundreds of people walked or sat about. The work was repeated with a few people in Amsterdam in 1975 and with less than 200 people in Bonn 1980. Udlot-Udlot (1975) is a music ritual in the open-air for hundreds of performers (the more, the wider the spread of the sound). The performers are divided into three groups: the first group playing percussion sticks (kalutang), the second playing a mixed group playing a mixed instruments (balimbing, tongatong, ongiyong, pitu) and the third group is made up of voices, singing on one tone or sliding in song. The proportion of the performers is 1/5 for group one and 2/5 each for groups two and three (for 1,000 performers: 200, 400, 400). It was first performed by the U.P Integrated High School students at the CCP parking lot and has since been repeated in Bonn (1980) and in a Buddhist temple in Japan (1992). Ading (1978), structured or drones and melodic cells, is scored for 200 performers and the public.

In the ’80s, Dr. Maceda’s works combine indigenous and western instruments. Aroding (1983) for 40 mouth harps, men’s voices and flutes; Siasid for bamboo tubes, percussion and five violins; Suling-Suling for 10 Indonesian and Philippine flutes of different tunings with two other color groups — bamboo buzzers with short decays. In Strata (1988), Maceda used 10 bamboo buzzers (Kalinga balingbing), 10 pairs of sticks (Ifugao balingbing), five Chinese gongs of varying size (tam-tam), five six-stringed guitars, five flutes and five violencellos. In Strata, a constant changing number of gradually permutating rhythms and drone-melodies overlap with each other creating layers of strata of varying density, mass, weight, texture, color, sonority, melodic activity and rhythmic complexity.

In the ’90s, Dr. Maceda’s compositions have utilized the piano. In Music for Five Pianos (1993) he uses octaves and filled-in octaves resonating together as a composite of five sounds boxes. Each piano is treated as a separate musical instruments in gagaku and gamelan. Dissemination as composed in 1990, followed by Distemperament in 1992. The latter is scored for orchestral instruments organized in groups of three. In 1996 his latest work, Two Pianos and Four Winds was premiered in Yokoham (February 1996) and repeated at the U.P. Abelardo Hall Auditorium on September 5, 1996.

To this day Dr. Maceda continues to travel to all parts of the world conducting his music, speaking on a variety of topics as diverse as Living Polyphonies in Asia or A Logic in Court Music of the Tang dynasty, or representing the Philippines in various conferences. He has visited England, France, Yugoslavia, Hungry, Poland, U.S.A., Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Iran, Nepal and Vietnam. He has consistently contributed in various encyclopedia and dictionaries (like the Harvard Dictionary of Music, the Groves Encyclopedia of Music, etc.). His scholarly works have won for him prestigious national and international awards, some of which include Ordre des Palmes Academiques from France, 1978; U.P. Composer’s Award, 1985; U.P. Outstanding Researcher Award, 1985; John D. Rockerffeler III Award by the Asian Cultural Council in New York, 1986; Philippine National Science Award for Outstanding Researcher in the Humanities, 1987; Tanglaw ng Lahi Award from the Ateneo de Manila University, 1987; U.P. University Professor Award, 1988, Gawad CCP Para sa Sining Award, 1997, Nikkei Shimbun Inc., Japan, Asian Prize for Culture, 1997; and from the French Government, the French National Order of Merit, Officer, 1997.

Dr. Maceda has dedicated his life towards the promotion of a national cultural identity, initiating and inspiring scholarly study of the musics and culture of the Filipino minority groups. As a composer, his experiments blazed the trial of a new trend in composition among younger Filipino composers.

What stands out above all these accomplishments is Dr. Maceda’s sincerity, musical integrity and humaneness. He is a loving and devoted husband to Madelyn Clifford, a Canadian pianist. They were married in Manila in 1954 and spent their honeymoon in Maguindanao collecting music and musical instruments. He has four daughters: Marion Villanueva, Madelein Heide, Kathleen Maciel and Eileen Mapili and is a doting proud grandfather of Denise and Louise Villanueva, Rayla Heide, Charles and Sarah Maciel, and Kester and Andrea Mapili.