September 17, 2020
Manuel Ponce’s Estrellita
Assistant Concertmaster Rui Du, who this month celebrates his fifth anniversary of joining the Minnesota Orchestra, joins pianist Hanna Kim in performing Manuel Ponce’s Estrellita (Little Star).
Although Manuel Ponce (1882-1948) wrote several works in traditional classical forms—including concertos for violin, piano and guitar—his work was focused primarily on songs, many based on folk music of his native Mexico. Ponce described his artistic imperative thusly: “I consider it the duty of every Mexican composer to ennoble his country’s music by giving it artistic form, attiring it in the garb of polyphony, and lovingly conserving the popular music that is the expression of the country’s soul.”
Estrellita (Little Star), which dates from 1912, is Ponce’s most famous composition, though there is some debate among musicologists as to whether it is entirely Ponce’s original, or based on traditional music. Whatever its origins, the sweet and wistful melody, long since separated from its lyrics, was a favorite encore of 20th-century violinist Jascha Heifetz.