There is a small planet between Mars and Jupiter that was discovered by Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1973. The asteroid was named 2644 Víctor Jara. It is, certainly, an unusual type of admiration.
Days before, on September 11th of that year, Víctor Jara was going to sing Manifiesto in the State Technical University of Santiago. The president, Salvador Allende, was supposed to speak at the event. However, he never arrived.
On that day, Víctor Jara listened to the last words spoken by the president over the radio. The same day, the Chilean military overthrew the government. Soon thereafter, the military detained Víctor Jara and took him to the national stadium where he was brutally tortured and assassinated.
Despite the enormous adversity, he managed to write a final poem before being executed. Today, the stadium is named Víctor Jara Stadium.
Víctor Jara was born in 1932. From an early age, he listened to his mother, Amanda, a farmer from Ñuble, play the guitar. His father, Manuel, was a tenant farmer from Lonquén. The two protagonists in the song “Te recuerdo Amanda”, one of his most well known songs (I remember you, Amanda) are named for his parents.
In the song, he sings: “I remember lying asleep in my mother’s lap listening to those marvelous people. I helped my father plow the farm. This was my life until I was 11 years old”. The personal and collective stories of his songs are interpreted and performed by great artists in other languages.
His instrumental themes, like “La partida”, was originally composed by the Chilean group Inti Illimani with instruments of the native people, but has been adapted by a wide variety of electronic and experimental artists.
Víctor Jara was also a theatre director. He was an innovator of popular music and also directed the group Quilapayún. Examples of his experimental style are evident on albums like “El derecho de vivir en paz” (The right to live in peace) and “La población” (The Shanty town). These songs are products of collaborative efforts with artists with diverse styles. He once sang: “the best school of singing for the popular singer is to live together with those who support the development of a better life”.
This post is also available in Spanish