Maria Grever

About Maria Grever

Maria Grever (1894–1951) was the first Mexican woman to achieve international fame as a composer and forerunner of twentieth-century popular music. “Jurame” or “What a Difference a Day Makes” were two of her most popular love songs and ballads in the 1920s, charting in Spain, South America, and Mexico in addition to the United States.

Even though some of Grever’s songs remain popular today, music historians have mostly disregarded her, and she is not even included in most music encyclopedias.  She is credited with writing hundreds of songs, which have been recorded by musicians such as Placido Domingo and Aretha Franklin, who continue to perform and record her work.

Grever was born in Mexico City, Mexico, on September 14, 1894, to a Spanish father and a Mexican mother. Maria’s given name at birth was Maria de la Portilla. She was born and raised in Spain, and her family often travelled around Europe. When she was twelve years old, she returned to Mexico.

According to a New York Times story, Grever wrote her first piece of music, a Christmas carol, when she was four years old. Grever was married in New York by his sister, and his best man was Leo A. Grever, an American oil businessman. She married Grever after the wedding of her sister.

According to one account of Grever, she began studying music reading in her later years. It is plausible to assume that most of her compositions were composed in a single key. Maria Grever was supposed to have an uncanny ability to hear everything. Grever, a soprano, sang opera in Madrid early in her career, according to a 1919 New York Times review.

Maria Grever had extraordinary versatility as a multi-instrumentalist

She often composed both the melodies and lyrics for the songs she later played live. During her prime years in the 1930s and 1940s were film soundtracks and Broadway play lyrics. Additionally, she worked as a vocal coach. On the other hand, Grever’s music will be remembered. The songs are often inspired by traditional Latin American rhythms and styles, such as Mexican or Spanish tangos.

Her remarks are often succinct and forthright. “When my thoughts drift to you at night, my darling,” she sings in her song “Yo No Se,” “then your voice, an ancient song singing,/I seem to hear;/You kneel by me, mingling, though far away,/Your voice rising with mine in a song of love’s first day” (“I Know Not,” translated as “I Know Not”).

Grever’s music became more accessible to American listeners once American lyricists translated the songs from Spanish to English. Maria Grever worked on three of her most successful songs with Stanley Adams, Irving Caesar, and Raymond Leveen.

One of the earliest commercially successful songs

Grever’s most famous song, according to a 1956 retrospective CD of her work, was “A un Ola” (“To the Wave”), which she released at the age of 18 and sold over three million copies. Grever’s 1920s chart-topping singles included “Besame” (“Kiss Me”) and the Spanish dance “Jurame ” (”Promise, Love”). Grever’s first significant success song was 1934’s “What a Difference a Day Makes” or “Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado.” The song has been covered by musicians as different as Chet Baker and Ray Conniff and continues to be one of Grever’s most popular and most recorded singles.

Maria Grever’s “Ti-Pi-Tin” was a smash hit the same year Ella Fitzgerald’s “A-Tisket A-Tasket” and Cole Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” swept the country. According to one evaluation of her work, Grever’s piece “Ti-Pi-Tin” was reportedly rejected by her publisher in 1938. Horace Heidt and his orchestra contributed to the song’s success by playing it on NBC radio.

“Gitano lamento,” “Lero, Lero from Brazil,” and so on. “Magic is the Moonlight,” “Make Love with a Guitar,” and more songs are included. Throughout her career, Grever’s songs “My First, My Last, My Only,” “Rosebud,” “Thanks for the Kiss,” “My Margarita,” “Andalucia,” and “Cancionero” were often played on the radio. According to various sources, she has composed between 200 and 500 songs.

They gained popularity due to their inclusion in the repertoires of many of her era’s finest singers. Lawrence Tibbett, Tito Schipa, Nino Martina, and Jessica Dragonette contributed to Grever’s popularisation. “What a Difference a Day Makes” by Benny Goodman and his orchestra, “Cuando Vuelva a Tu Lado,” and “Happy Session” are just a few of the several albums that incorporate Grever’s melodies.

“Magic Is the Moonlight,” or “Te Quiero Dijiste,” was included in the 1944 film “Bathing Beauty” soundtrack, which also featured Grever’s music. Viva O’Brien, a musical by Grever and Leveen, was presented in New York for twenty performances in 1941. “El Matador Terrifico,” “Mood of the Moment,” “Broken-Hearted Romeo,” and “Wrap Me in Your Serape” were among the show’s music.

Worldwide acclaim

According to her biography, Maria Grever liked playing in front of live audiences and organising concerts for other artists to perform her songs. Reviewers lauded her 1919 New York concert of Spanish, Italian, and French music at the Princess Theatre. As her fame rose, she travelled to Latin America and Europe. Grever’s compositions were often performed live in New York’s most illustrious musical venues.

In 1927, she completed a cabaret, song plays, and a short play titled The Gypsy at the Little Theatre, including costumes, dialogue, scenery, and dance. The jazz orchestra kicked off the evening’s festivities. In 1928, she performed in front of diplomats from Spain, Mexico, Cuba, and Argentina in New York City’s Pythian Temple.

Maria Grever sang popular songs and a little opera, “El Cantarito,” at New York City’s Guild Theatre in 1939. Although she only sang a few songs, she was accompanied by a choir, a dance company, and an orchestra comprised of hundreds of more musicians. While some of Grever’s work may be dismissed, the Times reviewer lauded her “innate gift of spontaneous melody” and said that “her more honest attempts were impassioned and striking.”

In the late 1930s, she came dangerously close to losing her sight owing to an eye infection. Grever organised a fundraiser in New York City in 1942 for the Spanish-American Association for the Blind. As the event’s emcee, she was responsible for a musical performance by blind students from the New York Institute. The money was collected to aid blind people in Spanish-speaking nations.


Maria Grever died on December 15, 1951, at the Wellington Hotel on Manhattan’s Seventh Avenue, after a lengthy illness at the age of 57. Her husband and two children, Charles Grever, a New York-based music publisher, and Carmen Livingston, a singer, were the only surviving members of her family.

After her death, the Union of Women of the Americas performed a musical in her honour at the Biltmore Hotel. Before her death in 1952, the UWA called her “Woman of the Americas.” Composer, author, publisher, and member of the elite American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

In 1956, RCA published “Songs of Maria Grever,” which featured Libertad Lamarque performing 12 songs with orchestrations by Chucho Zarzosa and Mario Ruiz Armengol. I guarantee I’ll return.” Along with her best-known songs, “Eso Es Mentira” and “Also” are included on the CD (“Thus”).

Despite the popularity of her songs, Bill Zeitung’s album cover claims that Grever was unknown before “a long and well-deserved reign of renown.” The article added that her music may be found on “every hand.” “However, only a select few people are acquainted with the brand.”


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