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José María Velasco Maidana Papers

Identifier: 2019-026

The José María Velasco Maidana Papers are a collection of the Art Museum of South Texas and the University of Houston Libraries.

The papers consist of scores, correspondence, clippings, photographs, and collected material of Bolivian composer and filmmaker José María Velasco Maidana.


  • 1880s - 1980s



10 linear feet

Biographical / Historical

José María Velasco Maidana was born on July 4, 1899 in Sucre, Bolivia. He married Martha Fructuosa Aldana Cuenca on May 12, 1923, and they had two children - Ruth Dora Velasco Aldana and Edgar Mario Velasco Aldana. Early in his career, he produced, directed, acted in, and scored silent films. In 1925, he opened his own production company called "Urania". He produced and directed the film "Wara Wara," which told the story of an Incan princess who falls in love with a Spanish captain. Released in 1930, today it is the only known surviving full-length film from Bolivia's silent film era.

In the 1930s, Velasco Maidana shifted his focus to music. He composed ballets and symphonic works, conducting performances in South America, the United States, and abroad during his career. He also played the piano and the viola. He began composing the ballet "Amerindia" around 1935, which centered the folklore and culture of the Aymara people, an indigenous nation with a large population in Bolivia. Velasco Maidana conceptualized scenery and choreography for the ballet. He was also a visual artist, and created several works in oil, ink, pencil, and metal, including paintings of the costume designs for the ballet. He spent time in Europe in the late 1930s, and "Amerindia" premiered in Berlin, Germany in 1938, performed by the German dance company Deutsche Tanzbühne. Velasco Maidana returned to Bolivia, where he founded the Orquesta Sinfónica de Conciertos, the precursor to the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Bolivia, in 1940. The Bolivian premiere of "Amerindia" was staged by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Conciertos in La Paz, Bolivia, in 1940.

Velasco Maidana and Aldana Cuenca separated in the early 1940s. Around 1943, Velasco Maidana began living primarily in Mexico City, where he met modernist painter and Texas native Dorothy Hood. They were married in 1946, and Hood traveled frequently with Velasco Maidana for his performances in South America and the U.S. He conducted the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, who played pieces from "Amerindia" at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California, in July of 1945. In 1946, he conducted the NBC Orchestra for NBC's Concert of Nations, also featuring numbers from "Amerindia". In the late 1950s, Velasco Maidana was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and Hood and Velasco Maidana moved to Houston, Texas in the early 1960s. He was no longer able to conduct, but continued to compose and give lectures for a time. His health continued to deteriorate, however, and he suffered from dementia later in life. Velasco Maidana died in Houston, Texas on December 6, 1989.

Related Materials

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections also holds the personal papers of Velasco Maidana's wife, artist Dorothy Hood. The Dorothy Hood Papers are a collection of the Art Museum of South Texas and the University of Houston Libraries.

José María Velasco Maidana Papers
A Collection of the Art Museum of South Texas and the University of Houston Libraries
Katy Allred, Joseph Lueck, and Christian Kelleher
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English and Spanish

Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA