Maria Grever, one of the greatest Mexican composers of all times was in fact born as Maria Joaquina de la Portilla Torres. In regard to her date of birth, there are several versions as to what is the actual date but it seems as it was between the year 1884 and 1886; however her baptism certificate says she was born on September 14th, 1885 in Leon, Guanajuato. Daughter of a Spanish father and a Mexican mother, Maria showed great musical talent from the age of four by composing a Christmas carol with lyrics, which she wrote all on her own.
At the age of 6, she traveled to Europe; first to Sevilla, where her father was originally from, and then to Paris where she immersed herself in the music-learning world, and had grand teachers like Franz Lenhard and Claude Debussy, who always suggested and urged her to “always keep her spontaneity.” Towards the end of her teenage years, she returned to Mexico and joined her Aunt Cuca Torres’ choir.
In 1906 she met Augusto Leon Grever, American oil company worker, whom she married a year later and had three children with, but unfortunately one of them died at six months of age in Mexico City.
In 1916 the family moved to New York because of revolutionary movements in Mexico. Four years after she would start working for Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox by composing musical backgrounds for several films. But it wasn’t until 1926 when the renowned Mexican tenor Jose Mojica agreed to record what would become one of the most famous songs of romantic music of the last century, “Júrame”, which only pushed her to acquire great international fame.
Thereafter, María Grever scored hit after hit with songs like “Asi”, “Alma Mia”, “Besame Mucho”, “Volvere” y “Cuando vuelva a tu lado”. All of them great masterpieces and many have been interpreted by the best singers in the world, such as: José Mojica, Frank Sinatra, Enrico Caruso, José Carreras, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, among many others.
Grever also composed a special concert piece called Cantarito, which was discovered by singer Nayeli Nesme; moreover, Maria Grever collaborated and greatly contributed to jazz and the diffusion of Mexican music in the world… She was very famous for always expressing that “It’s worth knowing Mexican music. It is vastly rich, and the culture of music and songs in Mexico is fascinating from its inception: Its pre-Hispanic and Hispanic legacy and the mixture of both worlds. Melody and rhythm blend in one sole score. It’s my wish and ambition to present –from a real perspective– these melodies and rhythms, but with the necessary flexibility that would go according to a “universal ear”…”
The famous composer died on December 15th, 1951 in New York City, but she requested her remains were transferred to the City of Mexico.
In 1953 the Chilean filmmaker Tito Davison, performed the film “Cuando Me Vaya”, Maria Grever biographical melodrama starring actress Libertad Lamarque.