José Maceda was a composer, pianist and ethnomusicologist who dedicated his life to the understanding and popularisation of Filipino traditional music. Maceda’s research, fieldwork and papers resulted in the collection of an immense number of recorded music and enlightened scholars about the nature of Filipino traditional and ethnic music. His own experimentation also freed Filipino musical expression from a strictly Eurocentric mould.
Usually performed as a communal ritual, his compositions such as Ugma-ugma (1963), Pagsamba (1968) and Udlot-udlot (1975) are monuments to his unflagging commitment to Filipino music. His other major works include Agungan, Kubing, Pagsamba, Ugnayan, Ading, Aroding, Siasid and Suling-suling.
Among his many honours are grants from the Guggenheim Foundation (1957–1958) and Rockefeller Foundation (1968), Ordre des Palmes Académiques, France (1978) and the University of the Philippines Outstanding Research Award (1985). He also received the John D. Rockefeller Award from the Asian Cultural Council, New York (1987), Philippine National Science Society Achievement Award (1988), Tanglaw ng Lahi Award, Ateneo University (1988) and Gawad ng Lahi Award, Cultural Center of the Philippines (1989).
Maceda graduated with a music diploma from the Academy of Music, Manila (1935) before studying piano, composition and musical analysis at École Normale de Musique de Paris (1937–1941). After returning to the Philippines, he became a professional pianist and later studied musicology at Columbia University, anthropology at Northwestern University and ethnomusicology at the University of California.