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Primary Sources for Latin American Composers at the Library of Congress

How to Use This Guide

This guide is organized alphabetically by country. Select a country name from the left-navigation menu for an alphabetical list of composers from that country with primary sources in the Music Division's collections. Composers who have four or more primary sources in the Music Division's collections have their own sub-pages under their country name. For example, Heitor Villa-Lobos has a sub-page under Brazil, rather than listings on the main Brazil page.

Each country page arranges content into the following content areas described below:
Composer | Primary Source | Dates | Location / Call Number


Composers are listed alphabetically by last name in this research guide using the Library of Congress Name Authority File for that composer. Alphabetical listing occurs on the country charts and by the order of sub-pages for individual composers under their respective countries.

It is important to note that many Latin American composers' names appear differently throughout various reference resources. These discrepancies are most notable between the Library of Congress Name Authority File and Latin American Classical Composers: A Biographical Dictionary, third edition, especially for Brazilian composers.

Birth and death dates are provided if found in authoritative reference resources. When this information has not be found or verified, you will see "dates unknown" or estimates such as "19th c." Information about many Uruguayan composers not listed in Latin American Classical Composers: A Biographical Dictionary, third edition was found in an open-access online database, la base du datos de autores de Uruguay External.

Primary Source

Primary sources in this guide are individually cataloged or part of special collections. The following primary source types are found throughout the guide:

Correspondence letters, telegrams, postcards, and calling cards from a Latin American composer to another individual or organization
Holograph Score or Sketch notated music, either complete (score) or in draft form (sketch) in the hand of the composer
Copyist Manuscript handwritten score copied from the composer's original by another individual
Facsimile Score copy of a score in the composer's hand (includes photocopies, ozalids, and other chemical or printing processes)
Photographs, Negatives, and Iconography images of composers, either as photographs, photographic negatives, slides, or original drawings
Special Collection an entire group of materials created or collected by a Latin American composer
Other Manuscript miscellaneous sources of note due to unique features, such as published music with inscriptions from the composer or facsimile scores with the composer's annotations

Titles of musical works are supplied for holograph, copyist, and facsimile scores.


Dates for all primary sources in this guide are provided if identified. Dates in this guide follow the format required by Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Version 2019.0.3) [PDF]. You will see dates listed as:

  • single year (i.e., 1950)
  • year ranges (i.e., 1950-1962)
  • year with a month abbreviation (i.e., 1950 January)
  • complete date (i.e., 1950 January 5)
  • undated

Location/Call Number

All primary sources in this guide are in the custody of the Music Division. "Location / Call Number" as used in this guide refers to:

  • call number for an individual item
    • links to Library of Congress Online Catalog records are provided if available (not all items are in the online catalog)
  • special collection title
    • links to finding aids are provided for processed collections
    • box numbers are provided for processed collections
    • links to collection-level online catalog records are provided for unprocessed collections if available

Because not all items or collections are in the online catalog, as much information as possible is provided in this guide so that users may still request items in the Performing Arts Reading Room.

Not all special collections are stored on site. Be sure to contact us at least two weeks ahead of your visit so that we may review the site and processing status of the special collections that interest you.

If the "Location / Call Number" is listed as "Music Division Old Correspondence," this is not a formal special collection. These are archival institutional records of the Music Division, including correspondence, publicity materials, and program drafts. Inventory and access is available upon request. Records are arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Note About Countries

The countries under which composers are listed correspond to their country of birth, country of naturalization, identity asserted during their lifetimes, or as listed in Latin American Classical Composers: A Biographical Dictionary, third edition.

If you are a living composer listed in this guide or a relative of a deceased composer listed in this guide who believes that the country affiliation is inaccurate, please contact us through Ask a Librarian.

Composers listed under "United States" are American composers of Latin American heritage.

Composers listed under "Nationality Unknown" have names that are either Spanish or Portuguese, but no information could be found in reference sources about the composers. Their names are included here so that future researchers may provide information or take on the goal to research those composers. If you have solved any of these mysteries in your own research, contact us through Ask a Librarian.

Composers from Spain and Portugal are out of the scope of this research guide.