October 30, 1897 - November 6, 1970
born in Mexico City, Mexico, composed during the Modern period
Agustin Lara was one of Mexico's greatest songwriters. Lara's songs, including "Perdida," "Rosa" and "Granado," continued to be heard in his home land three decades after his death at the age of seventy-three. The lengthy list of artists who have recorded Lara's songs include Latin artists such as Las Hermanas Aguila, Pedro Vargas, Jorge Hernandez, Elvira Rios, Carmela Rey and Ana Maria Fernandez and non-Latin artists including George Benson, Vikki Carr, Nat King Cole and Bunny Benigan. Lara's best known tune, "Veracruz," remains the unofficial state anthem of the town for which it's named.
Lara's songs were essential to the early days of Mexican cinema. In addition to providing the soundtrack for Santa, one of Mexico's first "talkies", in 1931, Lara composed songs for such hit films as Virgen De Medianoche (1941), Noche De Ronda (1942), Pervertida (1945), Tropicana (1956) and a remake of Santa (1943). A movie based on his life, La Vida De Agustin Lara, was released in 1959. The son of a doctor and piano player, Lara began piano lessons at a very young age. From the beginning, he preferred making up his own songs. Although he worked as an entertainer in a bordello, during the Mexican Revolution, he succumbed to his father's demands that he attend military school. His interests in education ended quickly, however, and he soon left to pursue a career in music. The first signs of success came, in September 1928, when the Adelaido Castenada Orchestra and vocalist Jose Rubio recorded his composition, "Impossible." A month later, the Ascensio Trio recorded his song, "Clavelito." Following his success as a songwriter, Lara embarked on a tour with vocalists Juan Aruiza and Ana Maria Fernandez. In September 1929, Lara became one of Mexico's greatest stars when he began performing on a nationally-broadcast radio show, "Las Hora Intima". Lara's fame quickly spread throughout Latin America. In 1932, he performed for the first time in Cuba. When he became ill and had to cancel the remainder of the tour, a Havana newspaper mistakenly reported his death. Arriving at the Veracruz airport, he was met by thousands of enthusiastic fans. Continuing to perform in the 1940s, Lara introduced his own band, Orquestra De Soloistas De Agustin Lara in 1943. By the late-1950s, Lara had become a much-loved international star, appearing in films, night clubs and theaters and regularly on radio and television. Lara's success began to wane with the advent of mambo, cha cha and rock and roll in the 1960s. Unable to secure the prestigious engagements of his past, he withdrew from the limelight. Much of his time was spent, with his fourth wife, Rocio Duran, who he married in 1963, in the small house that he was acquired as a gift from the mayor of Veracruz. At the beginning of the 1970s, Lara's health began to fail. While in a hospital, undergoing treatment for a fractured hip, in October 1970, he suffered respiratory failure . He died from a heart attack a few weeks later. During his funeral procession, several thousands fans lined the streets of Mexico City to pay their last respects. IN celebration of the one hundreth anniversary of Lara's birth, in 1997, Placido Domingo recorded an album of Lara's songs, Por Amour (For Love). ~ Craig Harris, Rovi