Rocío Sanz (1934-1993) : a different kind of story : a Costa Rican composer living in Mexico

Camacho Azofeifa, Tania Gabriela
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This dissertation examines the life of Costa Rican composer Rocío Sanz. She lived in the United States, Mexico, and the USSR, and chose Mexico as her country of residence. Through an exploration of the career of the composer, I identify her artistic path and musical aesthetics, and argue that despite an eclectic career writing avant-garde concert music, collaborating in theater, dance, and film productions, and creating cultural and educational radio programs, very few of her works are known in Costa Rica. Her radio show El rincón de los niños (The Children’s Corner), and some of her tonal works, such as her songs for children and Christmas carols, are Sanz’s best known works in her country. I argue that this is due in part to Costa Rican society’s gender bias, in which Sanz’s role as composer of children’s music was easily accepted because it reinforced traditional ideas of motherhood, and highlights an evident reticence toward women composers. Consequently, to this day her avant-garde music is barely performed, making her story biased and incomplete. The foundation of my research is a set of more than two hundred letters between Sanz and some of her best friends that I recently discovered along with score manuscripts preserved at the Historical Music Archive at the University of Costa Rica. To provide context and supplement the content of the letters, I conducted interviews with Sanz’s friends and family in Costa Rica and reviewed government correspondence, newspapers, and magazine articles, and secondary sources that mention the composer. This dissertation is the first extensive work about Rocío Sanz and is an important contribution in the field of music and women, and Latin American studies through an exploration of how women must negotiate music and everyday life in a world reserved for men.