Hermán Luis Chávez wins the Colin Franklin Prize for Book Collecting 2024

Hermán Luis Chávez, winner of the Colin Franklin Prize for Book Collecting, 2024.

The 2024 Colin Franklin Prize for Book Collecting has been awarded to Hermán Luis Chávez for their essay on the composer Atiliano Auza León (b.1928) and 20th C. Bolivian Art Music. In their essay, Hermán shares the experience of discovering a piano score by Atiliano Auza León tucked beneath a pile of sheet music, and how this led to a desire to perform, research and collect little-known compositions by Atiliano Auza León. “Performance brought me to research, which brings me back to performance once again, as I see my collection as a budding personal library of Bolivian musical culture that will allow me to cultivate a synergy of textual and notated materials to facilitate historically-informed performance research.” Hermán is currently studying an MSt in Modern Languages at Balliol College.

The funder of the Colin Franklin Prize, Anthony Davis, commented of the submissions in 2024: “It is always an overawing and moving experience to judge the entrants for the student collecting prize.  Once again, we had a wide range of exceptional entrants showing the breadth of collecting among a new generation of bibliophiles.  Hermán’s thoughtful essay showed exceptional insights into the collecting process and the qualities of determination, perseverance and scholarship which mark a true collector.  I am delighted that they have won the prize and look forward to hearing what book they have chosen for Bodley.”

Keeper Special Collections, Chris Fletcher, and one of the judges of the prize said of Hermán’s essay: “This was a marvellously written essay which balances the emotional and intellectual motivations behind the quest to bring a little-known Bolivian composer into the light.”

The judges also wish to highly commend two other submissions, from George Adams, an MSt student in English (1700-1830) at Harris Manchester College for his essay, Reading Romanticism, 1790-1830, and from Madeline White, a DPhil student in History (History of Science and Medicine) at Lincoln College for her essay, Peter Pan Printed Books.

The Colin Franklin Prize is awarded every year to an undergraduate or postgraduate student of the University of Oxford or the University of Brookes for a collection of books or other printed materials. You can find out more about the Prize on the Bodleian website.

Hermán will present their collection and perform a composition by Atiliano Auza León at the Scholar’s Coffee Morning on Friday 31 May in the Visiting Scholars Centre, Weston Library. For more information please email bookcentre@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Winner of the Colin Franklin Prize, 2024, Hermán Luis Chávez, describes the personal journey behind a collection.

The cover of ‘Dinamica musical en Bolivia’, or Musical Dynamics in Bolivia, by Atiliano Auza León. From the collection of Hermán Luis Chávez.

“Lamento Criollo,” the first movement of Atiliano Auza León’s six dances for violin and piano, begins with an inward melancholy that quickly swells, pushing, however meekly, to be heard. The violin seems to beg as it rises and falls, repeating the opening motif until it crowds the piano out, crying briefly before settling into gently rolling chords once more. The piece ends with the violin climbing to a soft but high scream that lingers before the piano allows it to fade away.

When I arranged the piece for cello I realized how much the opening dance demands despite its repetitive motion and short length. Launching my arm to play the same melody on another string, touching harmonics with the right wistfulness, breathing with the closing bawl without betraying the tightness in my own chest. Auza León wrote the movement—in his first published composition—upon hearing a chapaco[1] pass by on the street beneath the composer’s window, singing the tune. This happenstance mirrors my own discovery of Auza León, when I’d pulled out a stained, torn copy of the piano score to the six dances from within an aunt’s piano bench, poking around as a teenager eager to practise some first-year exercises despite the out-of-tune keys.

Fifteen years after composing the dances, Auza León published the second edition of his history of Bolivian music, which became the object of my undergraduate dissertation research. The book vacillates between simplicity and romanticism, even as it attempts to be encompassing and definitive. From an opening chapter that addresses some pre-Columbian Indigenous music to a set of short biographies of contemporary composers, Auza León wrote primarily of burgeoning classical music in the country. Fascinated by one of the only books by a Bolivian composer held at a handful of libraries in the United States, I set about analysing the composer’s work, only to realise there was much more than I could access from the northern hemisphere.

The choir and piano score composed for a celebratory children’s concert called ‘La fiesta del lugar’, or The Party of the Place. Courtesy of the author. From the collection of Hermán Luis Chávez.

After telling my family in Tarija about my woes, another aunt surprised me by finding Auza León and helping me acquire twenty-one scores and books directly from the composer. I spoke to him on a video call during the transaction. Among his supportive comments about taking Bolivian music abroad and light humor about my long hair, he noted important milestones in his work, which helped me put his book of music history into personal context. That text had its basis in Auza León’s first book: a treatise on the so-called dynamics of Bolivian music, where he consciously attempted to break with the established dance-music tradition in the country.

It makes sense that Auza León’s musicological work began immediately after his studies at the prestigious Latin American Center for Advanced Musical Studies (CLAEM) at the Torcuato di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1965. Despite his musical conservatism (he essentially told me Ginastera didn’t know what he was doing when he wrote Bomarzo), he was exposed to a community where Latin Americanist discourses of regional art music would have instilled the importance of articulating national approaches to classical music. Reportedly the first CLAEM fellow to write such a book and share it with those at the institute, Auza León’s books and music derive from his skepticism for modernist composition and intellectual vision of Bolivian music as culturally hybrid.

Aula Villa-Lobos (Villa-Lobos Room) at CLAEM. Alberto Ginastera analyses a work by Johann Sebastian Bach before the first generation of students. Courtesy of Eduardo Herrera, originally the Rockefeller Archive Center. See Eduardo Herrera, ‘Elite Art Worlds’ (Oxford University Press, 2020).
Torcuato Di Tella Institute, the second floor of the Florida building, where CLAEM was located. On the left, the meeting room, where composers Armando Krieger, alcides lanza, and Blas Atehortúa are sat. On the right, three doors lead to the fellows’ study rooms. Additional study rooms are behind the three composers. Courtesy of Eduardo Herrera, originally the Rockefeller Archive Center. See Eduardo Herrera, Elite Art Worlds (Oxford University Press, 2020).

Though he worked at the national conservatory in La Paz and had lived around Bolivia, Auza León eventually returned to Tarija, where he had taught my own grandmother and great aunt during their childhood. Committed to education, he wrote a book introducing music theory and also composed for children, including choral works for a festival celebration. These texts are special in my collection, not only because I know they are the fruit of a teaching career that included my family members, but because they represent the breadth of a work of a composer truly committed to art music in Bolivia, from historical treatises to music for school kids to the country’s first national opera.

I met Atiliano Auza León for the first time nearly three years after my aunt sent me the majority of the materials that make up my collection. He lives in a humble house just a couple of turns away from my grandmother’s. He was accompanied by his daughter-in-law, though completely lucid at ninety-three years old. Dressed in formal attire fitting for a man of his generation, he was kind and encouraging, reminding me how little Bolivian music is played abroad as he shared his excitement for my work, telling me to press on. Our embrace at the end of the short meeting was moving. Even as I knew I was unlikely to see him again, I felt comfort knowing that every time I’d play through a score or share a lecture on his books, I’d be reminded of this encounter, where my legacy work on twentieth-century Bolivian art music was so significantly abetted.

The covers of my copies of three of Atiliano Auza León’s scores. From left to right, they are his string quartet in homage to the centennial of the National Conservatory; arias and duos from his opera Incallajta; and a violin sonata in homage to Cesar Franck.

I am grateful to the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music for the financial support that made my collection possible. My deep thanks to the Bodleian Libraries for their support of my collection work with the Colin Franklin Prize.

Full essay available to download: Chávez Collection Essay for Colin Franklin Prize


[1]“Chapaco” is a colloquial term for a person from Tarija, and may be used specifically to refer to a campesino, or farmer. A person from Tarija can also be referred to more generally as “Tarijeño,” or in English, “Tarijan.” Though Auza León and his contemporaries thought of themselves as Bolivian, their cultural and creative ties to their local communities meant that using specific terms was important in their work.


Auza León, Atiliano. 6 Danzas Bolivianas del ciclo “Runas” para violín y piano. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Impresores Ricordi Americana, 1960.

—. Dinámica musical en Bolivia. La Paz, Bolivia: Cooperativa de Artes Gráficas E. Burillo, 1967.

—. Historia de la Música Boliviana, 2nd ed. Cochabamba, Bolivia: Editorial Los Amigos Del Libro, 1985.

—. La Fiesta del Lugar: Concierto Coral de Niños. Tarija, Bolivia: Escuela de Música Mario Estenssoro, 2013.

—. Introducción a la teoría musical. Oruro, Bolivia: Latinas Editores, 2019.

Flores Meruvia, Ernesto. “El joven centenario (III).” La Opinión. 2 July 2023. https://www.opinion.com.bo/articulo/ramona/joven-centenario-iii/20230701202613912444.html

Herrera, Eduardo. Elite Art Worlds: Philanthropy, Latin Americanism, and Avant-garde Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Eleanor Clark wins the Colin Franklin Prize for Book Collecting 2023

The 2023 Colin Franklin Prize for Book Collecting has been awarded to Eleanor Clark for her collection of first edition books by female authors 1900-2000, documenting women’s literary lives in the twentieth-century. Writing of her collection, which includes both fiction and non-fiction,  Eleanor describes how she pays attention to just to the text but also to material imperfections: “A male dominated market desires purity, but real life is more truly captured when high textural ideas and messy material reality incorporate each other.” Eleanor is in her second year, studying BA English Language and Literature at Merton College, Oxford University. You can read more about Eleanor’s collection in her blog article here.

On receiving the award, Eleanor said: “I’m delighted to have won the Colin Franklin Prize: over the last few weeks, my eyes have been opened to the world of rare books in Oxford, and I’ve been able to hold in my hands a near-pristine first edition of South Riding, the novel that started it all. I’m hugely grateful to everyone involved in the prize.”

Funder of the Colin Franklin Prize Anthony Davis said of the submissions 2023: “This was the ninth year of the Colin Franklin Book Collecting Prize and as always the standard of entrants was very high indeed making choosing a winner hard.  Apparently Oxford students collect subjects as diverse as books about happiness, children’s editions of Chaucer and Faber jacket designs; one entrant has 288 miniature books at the last count.  After difficult decisions we awarded the prize to Eleanor who collects books about Women’s Literary Lives and has found books to treasure even in charity shops. We were very impressed with the way Eleanor related to the books and what they represented not just to authors but to prior owners too.  The judges look for a sense of the physical materiality of the books and Eleanor showed a close connection with hers, writing  a perceptive essay about how the books as physical objects tell stories about their context and histories. Congratulations to Eleanor!”

Keeper Special Collections, Chris Fletcher, and one of the judges on the prize said of Eleanor’s essay: “I was impressed by the sensitive and quizzing consideration given to questions of value and their relationship to material form, rarity and personal passion.   An imperfect book can be the perfect book.”

The Colin Franklin Prize is awarded every year to an undergraduate or postgraduate student of the University of Oxford for a collection of books or other printed materials. You can find out more about the Prize on the Bodleian website.

In 2022, the joint-winners of the award were: Alexander Laar, DPhil Candidate at New College for his essay, Books with names: collecting previous owners; and Ashley Castelino, DPhil Candidate at Lincoln College for his essay, Translation: Medieval & Modern.