Nicaragua: Alejandro Vega Matus in The New York Times



Headline announcing the death of Alejandro Vega Matus.

It’s not often that a Nicaraguan composer gets mentioned in the New York Times, but when Alejandro Vega Matus died on November 26, 1937, a brief cable appeared announcing his passing a few days later.

Here it is in full:


National Mourning Declared for Nicaraguan Composer
Special Cable to The New York Times

MANAGUA, Nicaragua, Dec. 2—Vega Matus, Nicaragua’s most distinguished musician, died yesterday at Masaya at the age of 65. He wrote many musical compositions, popular and classical, which were recorded phonographically by foreign companies.

President Anastasio Somoza declared national mourning for the composer and burial with the honors of a brigadier general.

Short, sweet, and to the point.

And yet the cable is missing something important. Have another look. Imagine that you’ve never come across this composer before and only know as much as the cable reveals.

Have you figured it out?

For whatever reason, Vega Matus’s first name is omitted. The person who received (transcribed?) the message may have misunderstood his first name to be Vega. The mistake may have also been due to the sender, who may have assumed that when one said “Vega Matus” in Nicaragua, it could only have referred to the musician.

One thought (as I contemplate this composer). I wonder where Vega Matus is buried?

It’s time to investigate.

[N.B. This is not an official Department of State website or blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.]

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