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Released: 1975

Country: Mexico

Genre: Microtonal








On September 9, 1965, the composer and music theorist Julián Carrillo died in Mexico City. He was born in Ahualulco (San Luis Potosí), on January 28, 1875. In 1895 he was a student at the National Conservatory of Mexico, later he obtained a scholarship to study in Europe. Upon his return to Mexico, Julián Carrillo held the most eminent positions in the musical domain: General Inspector of Music, Director of the National Symphony Orchestra (on two occasions), Director of the Conservatory, where he directed the composition courses as violinist.

The musical system that has been practiced until now in the West, temperament, is based on a scale made up of twelve different sounds that are repeated every octave. Sound 13 is a system that divides the octave into more than twelve sounds (16, 32, etc.), expanding the number of existing sounds. Ivan Wischnegradsky, referring to Julián Carrillo, wrote: “What particularly attracted me was that, having walked the path of ultra-chromatism since his youth, he remained faithful to her until his death. In this field, he also showed extraordinary ingenuity and inventiveness. (gifts that were never denied until its end) by giving a practical solution to the problems that arose, such as those of building new instruments and inventing musical writing.”

Compositions: “Prelude to Columbus”, “Horizons”, three classical symphonies, various masses, requiem, quartets, sonatas, etc.




My father’s life was so romantic, so full of unusual incidents, that it is difficult to pick out any particular fact.

There is, however, an anecdote that he liked to narrate that defines his character. He goes back to his childhood: he was at most five years old when he attended the school in Ahualulco. He had developed the ability to instantly add multi-digit amounts, so when he finished dictating the operation he already had the result.

On the day of the exam, the Municipal President, Mr. Antonio Zapata, was part of the jury, who in turn should do the sums on a piece of paper; they hadn’t finished dictating them when my father took his work to the jury. Since Don Antonio still hadn’t finished, he looked at the blackboard a bit dazedly and said: “You’re wrong, go away,” but my father didn’t move, sure of himself. When the mayor finished doing the sums, he nobly recognized his mistake and from then on he had special affection for him and called him “my rival”.

I think this childhood memory portrays him in his entire body.

Another characteristic of Julián Carrillo was his admiration and respect for music and musicians of the past and present. He had a special predilection for those who in his works looked to the future: Palestrina, Bach, Gluck, Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Debussy, Schoenberg, Berg, Bartok, among others, although sometimes he did not completely agree with the feel of him

My father’s life was always focused on his work and on his Sound 13 music. He wanted the future and planned it in the full use of the sound world discovered by him; the flow of sounds produced by his pianos and other instruments, as well as the artistic, technical and pedagogical elements that he bequeathed to humanity.

Now, Julián Carrillo as a father and as a man would be the subject of a book. He was above all intellectually a musician; but in human terms he was an extraordinary father, a home lover and an excellent educator, who did it more than by word, by example, teaching us to live loving life with optimism and faith despite all the misunderstanding that surrounded him; to enjoy work as a blessing, also teaching us to die by accepting the end with the joy that he is sure of having fulfilled his mission and having peace in his conscience.

Dolores Carrillo

May 1975


Words pronounced by the musicologist Gerald Benjamin of the University of Trinidad in San Antonio, Texas, during the homage paid to Julián Carrillo by the Carnegie Hall Corp. of New York, on March 20, 1975, in commemoration of the centenary of his birth.

The distinguished American philosopher, Henry David Thoreau said: “It is easier to discover a new world as Columbus did, than to penetrate some of the aspects of it that we apparently know so well.”

I believe that Julián Carrillo, the man we are honoring today, would have fully understood the rigorous discipline of internal research alluded to by Thoreau, because from his days as a student, first at the National Conservatory of Mexico and later at Leipzig in Germany and Ghent in Belgium, Julián Carrillo was interested and we would rather say he felt compelled to demonstrate in practice all the theories that came to him either from his professors or in treatises and textbooks.

Since 1895, when he was still studying in his country, Julián Carrillo experimented and discovered for himself sixteen small intervals resulting from the physical act of dividing a monochord into all its integral parts. These sounds were found by Carrillo on the strings of his violin and the first ascending sound he heard between the notes Sol and A on the fourth string of his instrument he called Sound 13, because it was a new determined sound that broke the scale of the twelve classics.

However, over time, for Carrillo Sound 13 was a collective name used symbolically to designate the totality of his work, as well as any other physical or tempered division of the tone or of the octave in intervals smaller than the semitone. This is what is generally called microtonalism or ultrachromatism, terms used by European musicians much later, that is, until after the First World War. In addition, Carrillo extended the use of the initial name of Sound 13, beyond the field of sounds, to include as a result of his research in a new concept, rhythm, metrics, form, harmony, instrumentation, acoustic theories, instruments and many others. more fields.

However, abstract theoretical observations were never an end in themselves for Carrillo because he had lived through the cataclysm of Mexico’s social revolution in 1910: he knew what can happen when members of a social elite political party preach the humanitarian theories of philosophers like August Comte, John Stuart Miller or Herbert Spencer, but who do not put them into practice, but simply accommodate them according to the social reality of the moment.

When Julián Carrillo returned triumphantly from Europe in 1904, he immediately put into practice the knowledge he had acquired abroad; through his multiple activities as a violinist, conductor and educator he tried to raise awareness among the young generation of Mexican musicians about the abstract formalistic concepts of music and give them the necessary means to produce original compositions and not just recreations or copies of a decadent 19th century operatic Italianate style. The task was not easy, but Carrillo was finally able to advance the cause of purely instrumental music, organizing and directing groups such as the Beethoven Orchestra and Quartet.

Many times in the course of history it seems that some of the great artistic achievements are the result of the conjunction of artists with disciplines related to each other, but different in time. Examples include the classic revivals of the Florentine Camerata at the end of the 16th century or in the 20th century, the neo-classicist experiments of Strawinsky-Diaghilev or the so-called Group of 6 in France.

Carrillo was also able to discover the innovative and creative geniuses of his time. (Painters, philosophers, musicians and scholars.) He knew how to collaborate fruitfully with them: an example of similar collaboration was that of Carrillo with one of the greatest philosophers of Mexico in the 20th century: José Vasconcelos. Vasconcelos had a neo-artistic concept of humanity and culture and believed in the potentiality of man’s fulfillment, according to Aristotle’s definition in his Poetics.

It was Vasconcelos who helped the young Mexican muralists Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros to achieve unity of form and content in their art through motifs and themes of indigenism and folklore inspired by the murals of old Bonampak. The painters of Mexico in 1920 had no difficulty in adapting the muralist technique of the Florentine Renaissance to their works in Mexico because muralism was part of the indigenous tradition that predated the Italian Renaissance by 300 years; but in music there was no such clear tradition. The young musicians perhaps knew very well what they wanted in terms of content and ideas for their works; for example, whether they were popular themes, rhythms, dances and instruments and indigenous themes, but the problem was finding a way to give life to those expressions.

When Carrillo resigned from the positions of Director of the Conservatory and the National Symphony Orchestra in 1924, he did not resign from Mexico and its musicians, but as he tells us years later in some biographical notes; he did it because he was already fifty years old and he was sure of the maturity and progress of his musical style.

Carrillo did not participate in the nationalist ideas and tendencies of young people like Chávez, Revueltas, Galindo, Ayala, Contreras, Moncayo, and perhaps even Ponce, who used the rhythms of huapango and jarabe or used popular melodies that were very fashionable in accordance with the costumbrista spirit prevalent at the time; he also did not agree with the use of indigenous melodies derived from the rich heritage of indigenous cultures.

Carrillo believed that by dedicating himself fully to the development of his Sound 13 theories and the new music resulting from them, he would further work for the future culture of Mexico; because by triumphing in the long run he would contribute elements for the composers of the future.

Happily, for us, Julián Carrillo found a collaborator in the famous musician and champion of new ideas: Leopoldo Stokowski, who almost fifty years ago presented the theories and music of Sound 13 at the head of his Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. referring to the new intervals, he said: “With the sixteenths of tone you open a new era and I want to be at the service of that cause.” On another occasion he declared: “Fortunately, for America, European musicians have nothing to claim in this revolution, since everything is due to an Indian who descends from the owners of the continent.”

Carrillo, always aware of the past and the cultural debt due to tradition, tried to make a juxtaposition and superposition of elements, of the new and old methods and sounds. Along with Stokowski, Carrillo always wanted, as an artist, to communicate his avant-garde ideas to the public. Consequently, in his orchestral compositions he uses the structure and technique of the Baroque Concerto Grosso, calling it Concertino, that is, small concert group, accompanied by a ripieno of great orchestral tuttis; with the small group playing micro-intervals and the orchestra playing the traditional whole and half steps.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Carrillo furthered his research on ultrachromatism. He invented new instruments, adapted others, devised new writing systems, and above all, most importantly, wrote music in all forms and styles. Perhaps his greatest achievement was in 1958 when he built his fifteen metamorphosing pianos which he presented at the Universal Exhibition in Brussels and later in Paris during the UNESCO meetings.

Many famous composers have understood and valued Carrillo’s achievements. Among others, the Polish avant-garde Ivan Wischnegradsky, who wrote: “Carrillo’s pianos discover a wonderful new world of sounds, worthy of comparison with the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. We Europeans had searched in vain for a practical keyboard that would allow us to produce fourth of tone; and now Carrillo surprises us with a classic keyboard capable of producing not only fourths, but also fifths, sixths, sevenths, eighths and even sixteenths of a tone. A discovery as miraculous as the egg of Columbus.”

In conclusion, perhaps we could say that Carrillo’s was an art of synthesis using ideas from the past, adapting them to the infinite world of his musical divisions.

His predictions about the infinite enrichment of sounds have been realized in advances in electronics, as have many of his theoretical postulates about the principles of meter and rhythm. Many of his instruments have been used by composers as sound sources for synthesizers and also as instruments in their own right for mixed element compositions. This is being done in Paris and Mexico; and it is especially interesting that it is Mexico because it is an indication that the young generation of Mexican musicians is becoming a cosmopolitan and universal group in the technique of their works, like any other group from no matter what country.

To demonstrate his gratitude to the giants of his culture, the President of Mexico, Mr. Luis Echeverría, in January of this year presided over the reburial ceremony for the remains of Julián Carrillo in the Rotunda of Illustrious Men, the greatest honor that Mexico exempts those of its children who have made a real contribution to the aggrandizement of their country.

Such was Benito Juárez and such was also the man of a new world, Julián Carrillo.




Julián Carrillo, was already from the beginning of this century, the most genuine representative of Mexican music. With that character, he participated in numerous International Congresses, alongside Camilo Saint Saens, Romain Rolland and that musician to whose memory he consecrates the deepest admiration: Claude Debussy.

Despite his professional activity, Carrillo meditated on the transcendental consequences of a discovery that he had made since 1895, while he was still a student at the Conservatory of Mexico.

Indeed: coming out of an acoustics class, he had tried in vain to get the full range of natural harmonics on his violin; and impatient before the impossibility of achieving it with his fingers, too thick, he used a knife and with the edge of it, he was able to divide the rope hearing extraordinary sounds; and he found that the ear can clearly perceive intervals separated from each other by the distance of up to a sixteenth of a tone.

Later, his studies on acoustics led him to surprising achievements: according to classical acoustics, in the natural scale of harmonics, the fundamental is repeated from octave to octave (the so-called even harmonics) and Carrillo found that this interval (the octave) is just an approximation and that in reality all sounds produced by harmonics are different”.

Farewell to the physical foundations of our major diatonic scale!

It is true that music, since Bach, rests on a mathematical and not a physical basis (the division of the octave into twelve equal intervals) and that the musical instruments called “tempered” do not give, in the sounds they produce, more than one approach.

Julián Carrillo also formulates the bases and principles on which he will later develop a new music: each vibration is a different sound, and for this reason they can be used freely, within the domain of 30,000 vibrations per second that the human perceives. human ear. So why limit the division of the so-called eighth to only twelve? If we want to keep this interval as a point of reference, let’s divide it into as many parts as we think necessary, for example, into the ninety-six intervals that the sixteenths give us.

Julián Carrillo then embarked on a new kind of “lutherie” and made third and sixteenth tone harps. He later had fifteen pianos built (with the same look and keyboard as the classical piano) but producing key to key, 1/4, 1/5, up to 1/15 and 1/16 pitch.

A new problem presents itself to the composer: musical writing.

For sixteenth piano, he needed to find fifteen signs between the intercalation of a tone, from D to Mi, for example.

Carrillo conceives the idea of a universal solfeggio that adapts to any system, whose base can be indistinctly semitones, thirds, fifteenths… and for this extraordinarily simple system, he takes the numbers recommended by J. J. Rousseau, perfecting and generalizing their use. .

By means of a numerical table superimposed at will on the instruments, music can be played and memorized with extraordinary ease. (Annik Simon, who performs the “Prelude to Columbus”, prefers the notation by numbers, to the traditional writing adapted to quarter tones).

Here’s an example:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 for third tones.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 for quarters.

If we add to this that with this writing up to nine octaves can be indicated with only a fixed line and two dashes, we must recognize the extraordinary effort of simplification and rationalization for the classical writing system that even represents a single sound in twenty-seven ways. different. (Changing the keys and using the flats, sharps, double flats, double sharps…).

However, these reflections, this meditation, these inventions that led Carrillo to forge a totally new musical system and to advocate a more logical graph for the representation of sounds, are nothing more than the preliminary stages of an abundant and amazingly diverse creative work.

Three styles that coincide with three eras can be clearly distinguished.

The works of youth: Julián Carrillo comes to Europe at the dawn of this century. He is already a brilliant violin virtuoso and comes to study composition and conducting in Germany. At that time he writes his First Symphony and the Sextet, works whose roots go deep into German romanticism, especially Brahms, whose amazing technical mastery Carrillo assimilated to perfection.

In a second period, Carrillo writes atonal music, but always faithful to the lyricism and inspiration of his first period.

Finally, (it could be said that Debussy’s encouragement helps him to liberation) he launches himself as a composer towards that unknown world whose shores the young acoustician arrived at since 1895… and thus “Prelude to Columbus” and “Horizons” are born.

The enormous responsibility of discovering a new continent sometimes seems to scare the visionary spirit of the musician; but the awareness of the transcendental of the glimpsed world, conceals the simplicity of its message.

It is true that in the quarter tones he feels himself in known seas and his lyricism expands freely; but beyond in the thirds, in the sixteenths, one imagines him scrutinizing the horizon in a pause, in a kind of fleeting anguish, from which violent bursts of glory suddenly arise, from the intoxication of the explorer’s triumph, first to discover unknown landscapes …

Such is the message of Julián Carrillo, Christopher Columbus of Music!





It is the first work written in the new system created by the composer. Dedicated to the great navigator who discovered America, it seeks to describe the impressions of fear, amazement and content joy that are experienced when unveiling the mystery of a new universe.

A sixteenth tone harp, a quarter flute and a string quartet create the sound atmosphere in which the voice unfolds in delicate arabesques written in quarter tones.

The work premiered on February 15, 1925 in Mexico in the first concert in the world with this new music and during which the enormous emotional possibilities of the sixteenth tone harp were discovered.

Months later, several works by Julián Carrillo were performed in New York and Philadelphia, under the direction of Leopoldo Stokowski, with enormous success, among others a Concertino for a small instrumental ensemble accompanied by a symphonic orchestra.

The Prelude to Columbus was conducted personally by the author, in the new UNESCO room in Paris in 1958 before an enthusiastic audience.



No other name could express better than “Balbuceos” the initial attempt, the first adventure of a composer who tries to penetrate the unknown world of sixteenths of tone.

This work was written at the request of Leopoldo Stokowski for a Contemporary Music Festival held in Houston, United States of America, where it was premiered on March 18, 1960, by the composer’s daughter Dolores Carrillo, the pianist, under the direction of that famous director. orchestral.



Once again, at the request of Leopold Stokowski, this work was written. The eminent conductor conducted it in 1951 – 1952 in Pittsburgh, Washington, Minneapolis and Baltimore and was so successful that it had to be repeated at the request of the public.

It is like a meditation for three solo instruments, violin and cello that play quarter and eighth tones and harp for sixteenths, surrounded by the sound atmosphere created by the orchestra.

In it, the composer tries to evoke the contemplation of a new musical horizon, blurred by the mysterious mist of unknown facts and that developed over time…

The whole work wraps the listener in this impression of mystery and ends in a highly spiritual climate in which the harmonics used insistently are like a symbol.



This work was premiered in Brussels during the Universal Exhibition in 1958, in a great gala concert dedicated to the compositions of Julián Carrillo and was honored with the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Belgium. The author conducted the orchestra of the Belgian National Radio Institute.

The work is grandiose and demands an extraordinary virtuosity from the performer. The use of quarter and eighth tone intervals makes it necessary to have all the resources of a new technique and harmonics are used to the extreme limit.



As we have already said, Julián Carrillo arrived in Europe at the beginning of the century as a brilliant violinist. He was violin first in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arthur Nikisch and later obtained great distinctions such as the First Prize unanimously and with distinction in the International Competitions in Ghent, Belgium.

I think it is necessary to remember this background, because writing works for solo violin is not very frequent and for its perfect realization it is necessary to know not only the art of composition, but also to possess the technique of the instrument to the maximum degree.

Until today these conditions had only been met in the admirable Sonatas of Juan Sebastián Bach.

The works that we present here are dedicated to Paganini, the prodigious artist who deserves the gratitude and homage of every violinist for the progress that his compositions represent for the technique of the instrument; but in Carrillo’s Sonatas the transcendence of the technique surpasses that of those famous studies.

We will also point out the use of harmonics and successions of chromatic fifths and fourths that were unusual until today.

The Paris Conservatory organized a competition for the execution of these works and the “Julián Carrillo Prize” was awarded to the winner.

— Jean Etienne Marie
Director of Sound Research at the “Radioffusion Télévisión Française”.


Rector: Dr. Guillermo Soberốn Acevedo
General Secretary: Lic. Sergio Domínguez Vargas

General Director of Cultural Diffusion:
Diego Valades
Recording Department:
Marisa Magallon




They collaborated in the realization of this album:

Jean Etienne Manie.

Supervision and technical realization The Lamoureux Concert Association

The French Quartet (R. Genohe, J. Ghesten, S. Collot and R. Bex)

The Villiers Quartet (F. Villiers, N. Lepinte, M.T. Chaillet, R. Flachot)


The recordings were made by Philips.


Front page:

Raúl Herrera

Surprised bliss runs through the veins of the earth

Mixed technique


This disc has been manufactured by C.B.C./COLUMBIA INTERNATIONAL

Special Products Division

Play at 33% R.P.M.


Madero Printing, S. A.


  • A1 HORIZONS Symphonic poem for violin, cello and sixteenth tone harp with symphony orchestra accompaniment / 18:42
    The soloists: Gabrielle Devries, Reine Flachot, Monique Rollin and The Lamoureux Concert Association Orchestra
    Direction: From the author
  • B1 PRELUDE TO COLUMBUS Solo soprano in quarter tones and various instruments in fourth, eighth, and sixteenth tones / 09:42
    Soloist: Annik Simon
    Direction: From the author
BAUBLES For metamorphosed piano “CARRILLO” sixteenths of a tone.
  • C1 Moderate / ?
    Soloist: Bernard DeFlavigny and The Lamoureux Concert Association Orchestra
    Direction: From the author
  • C2 End slowly / ?
    Soloist: Bernard DeFlavigny and The Lamoureux Concert Association Orchestra
    Direction: From the author
  • D1 Long / ?
    Soloist: Gabrielle Devries
  • D2 2. FUGA / ?
    Soloist: Gabrielle Devries
  • D3 3. FINAL / ?
    Soloist: Gabrielle Devries


Gabrielle DEVRIES

  • Gabrielle received the grand prize of the Accademia Charles Cros Record, Paris, for his recording of Albert Roussel’s second sonata and Igor Strawinsky’s Duo Concertante.
    This artist devotes all her talent to contemporary music and it was she who recorded Bela Bartok’s Sonata for the first time in France, which caused a sensation.
    In Bern, Switzerland, she played the Paul Hindemith Concerto, under the direction of the great German master himself, obtaining a resounding triumph.
    Whether he plays works of great virtuosity, such as Serge Prokofief’s brilliant concerto, or the beauty of his sound, he vibrates and sings intensely as in Alban Bery’s “Concert to the Memory of an Angel”, which is always admirable in her it is the perfection of her style, the beauty of her bow stroke and her impeccable musicality, all of them very rare qualities that make Gabrielle DeVries one of the most outstanding violinists of the contemporary French School.



  • He was born in the Argentine Republic of French parents. He began his musical studies in Paris at the age of eleven; and three later, he won the First Prize of the Conservatory, taking first place among twenty-seven competitors. In the year l954, he won, by unanimous vote of the jury, the Piatigorsky Prize.
    Since then he has played in numerous concerts. In France with the “Concerts Colonne” under the direction of Kachaturian; with the “Orchestre National”, under Darius Milhaud; with the “Orchester Philarmonique de la R. T. F”, under the batons of Eugene Bigot, Manuel Rosenthal, Jean Martinon, Pierre Dervaux. Abroad she has been heard in recitals and as a soloist with the orchestras of Berlin, Vienna, London, Amsterdam, Geneva, Brussels, Lisbon, etc. where she has always obtained the highest praise from the press and that can be summed up in the trial. of the Austrian critic who perfectly defines her musical personality: “Reine Flachot, is the personification of the modern virtuoso, dazzling with objectivity and decision; in her burns the inner flame of the musical joy of authentic inspiration”.


The Lamoureux Concert Association Orchestra


From the Paris Opera

  • Annik Simon, after having finished her piano and composition studies, studied at the Conservatory in Georges Jouatte’s singing classes.
    She was the first French singer to win the Geneva International Prize, performing in German the Scene and Aria from Zerbinetta from the Opera “Ariane á Naxos” by Richard Strauss. Since then in the course of her artistic career in Europe, she has sung in Italy: in Rome, Venice, Florence and Palermo; and also in Germany, England, Holland and Switzerland.
    She participated in the Ravel Festival performances at the Paris Grand Opera; She has been a soloist with R. T. F. and has sung numerous operas both in Paris and in various French cities.
    Although her specialty is Mozart’s operas and classical French plays, she is keenly interested in the most modern expressions of music.


Monique ROLLIN

  • She is a sitarist and musicologist, in charge of the investigations of the C.N.R.S.; and she is the only artist in France to have played Julián Carrillo’s third, fourth and sixteenth tone zither harps.
    She has participated in numerous radio broadcasts, as a producer of musical illustrations, as well as a soloist, especially in “THistoire de Jacotin” by Maurice Ohana (Italian R.A.I. Award in 1961).
    She was a collaborator in the investigations of conereta music of the Radio de France from 1950 to 1953, Monique Rollin, is also one of the very rare lute players in France and with that character she has participated in numerous concerts, broadcasts, tours abroad and disc recordings. (Decca, Philips, Chant du Monde, Erato, etc.).


  • Bernard de Flavigny, received at the age of fifteen the First Prize of the Conservatory: Paris thorium. He completed his musical studies in composition, studying harmony with Olivier Messiaen and Fugue with Mme. Honneger.
    In 1948, he won the First Prize at the Prague International Competitions and is considered one of the first pianists of his generation. Bernard Flavigny, as a soloist, has toured Europe, the Far East and America.




Julian Carrillo – Horizontes / Preludio A Colon / Balbuceos / Concierto Para Violonchelo / Primera Sonata En Mi Menor

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$1700 MX
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Media Condition:
Mint (M)
Sleeve Condition:
Very Good Plus (VG+)

Mexican composer, conductor, violinist and music theorist (Ahualulco, San Luis Potosí, January 28, 1875 – Mexico City, September 9, 1965). He is known for his theory on microtonal music which he dubbed 'The Thirteenth Sound' (Sonido 13).

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