Leonora Rives-Díaz was a pianist and composer. Evidence suggests that she was American-born, possibly in the late 1860s or early 1870s, and perhaps in South Texas. Her early musical training showed "promise of a career as a piano virtuoso," but "a serious accident to her eyes" frustrated that ambition. Nevertheless, "her talent found vent in compositions of merit in the Mexican idiom," and in music publishing.
The Galveston and San Antonio music company, Thos. Goggan & Bro., published two important compositions by Leonora Rives during the 1880s. The better-known of these two, the "New Administration Grand March," was dedicated to President Grover Cleveland and published in 1885. The composer had taken up residence in Mission Valley, Texas, near Victoria, by 1885. She was "commissioned to compose a piece to commemorate the opening of the new capitol building in Austin." The formal dedication took place on "May 16, 1888, but the celebration started May 14 and continued through May 19 with major attractions each day." Copies of her composition, "State Capitol Grand Waltz," were available for sale as souvenirs at sixty cents each. "The Austin Daily Statesman printed over 10,000 copies, which were all gone by 11 a.m.," one publication commented. The "Grand Waltz," dedicated to Governor Lawrence S. Ross, the first Texas governor to occupy the new Capitol, was performed on the evening of May 18 at the dedication ball, held in the Senate and House chambers. The governor and his wife led the grand march into the chambers with music playing from the second floor.
After moving to Mission Valley, Leonora Rives married another composer, Louis Felipe Díaz, both of whom had been publishing their works through the Hauschild Music Company in Victoria. The company was committed to publishing South Texas artists, male and female, from many ethnic backgrounds. Until 1922, Hauschild published compositions from German, French, Polish, English, Irish, and Mexican composers and arrangers. The numerous ethnic groups represented by Hauschild's music catalogues also attest to the variety of cultures in South Texas and the cross-pollination of musical styles that resulted.
Louis F. Díaz, who began his career as a sign painter, became one of "the most prolific composers of the nineties" in South Texas and "director of a small but excellent dance orchestra, consisting of himself and his sisters, Clara, Lucy, and Mary." Hauschild published at least fourteen compositions by Díaz, including "City of Roses" waltz (1899), "Margarita" polka and two-step (1899), and "The Paris Exposition" march (1889). In 1901 Leonora Rives–Díaz dedicated her work "Twentieth Century Waltz" to the honor of the marriage of her friends Laura and Henry John Hauschild, the eldest son of George Hermann and manager of the music company. Rives–Díaz published many other compositions, including "Without Thee I Cannot Live," "Southwest Texas Waltz," "Without Thee I Cannot Sing," and "I Cannot Help But Think of Thee."
No positive references have yet been found to her death date or burial location. The Hauschild Musical Chronicle states that Louis F. Díaz died in Galveston, but no year is recorded. The rich legacy of music from these two composers pays tribute to the enormous contributions of Hispanic culture to Texas music history.
The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.
"Capitol Dedication Was A Gala Day in 1888," Texas Public Employees, August 1964 (Vertical Files, Austin History Center, Austin). Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas: Victoria Advocate Publishing Company, 1968; rpt. Austin: Nortex, 1985). Henry J. Hauschild, A Musical Chronicle from the Historical Scrapbooks (Austin, 1999). Elizabeth Power Warden, Through the Years with Music in a Little Texas Town: An Account of Music in Victoria, Texas (Victoria: Victoria Advocate Publishing Company, 1943).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Ruth K. Sullivan,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed September 26, 2021,
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