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Biography

Manuel María Ponce Cuéllar (8 December 1882 – 24 April 1948) was a distinguished Mexican composer active in the 20th century. His work as a composer, music educator and scholar of Mexican music connected the concert scene with a usually forgotten tradition of popular song and Mexican folklore. Many of his compositions are strongly influenced by the harmonies and form of traditional songs.

Manuel Ponce was born in the state of Zacatecas, Fresnillo city. He was the twelfth child in his family. He began playing the piano at the age of four. At five he caught measles, and whilst he was recovering he wrote his first piece, called "The Measles Dance".

At 19, he sold his piano to go to Europe, where he studied music in Italy and Germany. He composed hundreds of pieces for piano and guitar. Some of these pieces made him famous in Europe. It has been said that the music of Ponce is "the finest ever written for the classical guitar". Many famous guitarists have played Ponce's music, including the great Andrés Segovia and John Williams.

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