The Julio Nakpil Project was launched on May 21 at the Nakpil-Bautista House on Barbosa Street in Quiapo, Manila. This is the first massive undertaking in the Philippines to memorialize the life and works of Julio Nakpil – a great Filipino artist, a pianist and composer who was also patriot and was a member of the Katipunan.
The Julio Nakpil Project was made possible through the Salikha Creative Grants from the Commission on Higher Education and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (CHED-NCCA) with help from the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista Foundation. Historical Musicologist Professor Maria Alexandra Inigo Chua, PhD, headed the team from the University of Santo Tomas Research Center for Culture, Arts and Humanities which worked on the Project.
The Julio Nakpil Project consists of "The Julio Nakpil Documentary," a film about his life and works; The Julio Nakpil Music Edition, Volume 1 a book which contains works for piano, voice and chamber ensemble; a physical and digital exhibit of Nakpil's life and works titled "And Bahay ni Giliw, after Giliw," which was Nakpil's secret name as a member of the Katipunan; and the recording and release of his works in four volumes, The Music of Julio Nakpil, which is distributed by Viva Music.
Now available in various digital platforms, "The Music of Julio Nakpil" features performances by the renowned Raul Sunico on solo piano, the Coro Tomasino, the UST Symphony Orchestra conducted by Herminigildo Ranera.
The albums cover all of Nakpil's compositions ranging from his light polkas, waltzes and habaneras like Cefiro and Recuerdos de Capiz to love songs like Pag-ibig, which is dedicated to his wife, Gregoria de Jesus, who was the widow of Andres Bonifacio, to the marches and hymns of his later years like Pahimakas on the death of Jose Rizal and Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan which was requested by Andres Bonifacio himself.
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Julio was born in Quiapo, Manila on May 22, 1867. He was fourth among the twelve children of Juan Nakpil Luna and Juana Garcia Putco. Julio got his talent for music from his father who was a flute player in an orchestra as well as a composer of popular tunes. His parents sent him to school when he was eight years old. However, the strict discipline was ineffective to the highly imaginative and precocious child. After just two years of education, he was pulled out of school.
Even without formal education, Julio endowed with natural intelligence and love for learning profited much from self-study. He even learned to read and write in Spanish. This was true as well in his music as he was largely self-taught. He must have been quite a good musician as it was mentioned that his fame as a pianist spread in Manila high society and he would usually be invited to perform. He became a regular performer in the residence of governor Eulogio Despojol and was paid P1 per hour, which was a very high rate at that time. He switched to piano teaching when his health declined due to frequent late night performances. It is during this time while teaching that he composed pieces for the piano reflective of the western musical style like the polka, mazurka, danza habanera, gavotte and others. His later works are intertwined in the narrative of the nation.
Julio Nakpil lived through the three major political turmoil and anomalous period of revolution and wars in the country. He was a witness to the growth of Filipino national consciousness that undeniably influenced the political stance and musical ideas of this man. Events that transpired — i.e. the rise of the propaganda movement, the execution of Gomez, Burgos and Zamora, the establishment of the secret revolutionary movement, Katipunan and Rizal's deportation and eventual death by firing squad, the Philippine American War and later the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines — provided him with the fire and inspiration for his music.
Julio Nakpil died on November 2, 1960.