Home » Collections » Alberto Vollmer Collection » Historical Context » 19th Century Travellers » Federico G. Vollmer

Federico G. Vollmer

Federico, the Composer (Caracas 1834-Hamburgo 1901)

Federico G. Vollmer

When Federico Vollmer finished “Jarro Mocho” he thought he had composed a waltz and that is what he wrote on the original score. His work however, was absorbed by the mainstream of Venezuelan popular music, and became independent of its composer, acquiring its own creole beat and becoming one of the country’s favorite “joropos”.

Federico was the first Vollmer born in Venezuela. His father, Gustav Julius, originally from Hamburg, had married Francisca Ribas y Palacios – the only surviving daughter of Antonio José Ribas and Ignacia Palacios y Blanco. Francisca “Panchita” was the niece of General José Felix Ribas “Conqueror of the Tyrants at La Victoria” and first cousin of the Liberator Simón Bolívar y Palacios.

A self taught musician, Vollmer’s compositions accurately reflect Venezuelan music of the mid-nineteenth century. Our attention is drawn to some of the characteristics of his work, that cover a wide spectrum of musical expressions of his time.

Lira Venezolana
Federico G. Vollmer

Polkas, mazurkas, dances, waltzes and impromptus find an outstanding exponent: furthermore, hints of what would later be the merengue, the guasa and some gaitas can be found in his dances.

He named his compositions with funny names, such as “Yes, yes you already told me so”, “Do you want cocoa?”. He dedicated his pieces to composers, artists and friends, such as El Reloj de la Catedral (The Cathedral Clock), dedicated to painter Arturo Michelena, Tu y yo, (You and I) to Miss M.R.

Vollmer’s music rapidly made its way from elegant parlours to the squares of Caracas as a must in all the repertoires of military bands and open air concerts; it was played on pianolas and the first phonographic records.

Alberto Vollmer Collection

Federico G. Vollmer