Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Ernesto Lecuona " Viva Lecuona"
Embajador de la musica Cubana
Lecuona started early studying piano under his sister Ernestina, a famed composer in her own right. He later studied at the Peyrellade Conservatoire under Antonio Saavedra and the famous Joaquin Nin. Lecuona graduated from the National Conservatory of Havana with a Gold Medal for interpretation when he was sixteen. And he performed outside of Cuba at the Aeolian Hall (New York) in 1916.
Ernesto Lecuona: dedicated to Gonzalo Roig
He first travelled to Spain in 1924 on a concert tour with violinist Maria de la Torre; his successful piano recitals in 1928 at Paris coincided with a rise in interest in Cuban music.
He was a prolific composer of songs and music for stage and film. His works consisted of zarzuela, Afro-Cuban and Cuban rhythms, suites and many songs which are still very famous. They include Siboney (Canto Siboney), Malagueña and The Breeze And I (Andalucía). In 1942, his great hit, Always in my heart (Siempre en mi Corazon) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song; however, it lost to White Christmas. Lecuona was a master of the symphonic form and conducted the Ernesto Lecuona Symphonic Orchestra. The Orchestra performed in the Cuban Liberation Day Concert at Carnegie Hall on October 10, 1943. The concert included the world premiere of Lecuona's Black Rhapsody. Lecuona gave help and the use of his name to the popular touring group, the Lecuona Cuban Boys, though he did not play as a member of the band. He did sometimes play piano solos as the first item on the bill.
In 1960, thoroughly unhappy with Castro's new regime, Lecuona moved to Tampa. Lecuona lived his final years in the US. He died 3 years later at Santa Cruz de Tenerife at age 68, and is interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York A great deal of Lecuona's music was first introduced to mass American audiences by Desi Arnaz, a fellow Cuban and Lucille Ball's spouse.
Lecuona's talent for composition has influenced the Latin American world in a way quite similar to George Gershwin in the United States, in his case raising Cuban music to classical status.
Ernesto and Ernestina's cousin Margarita Lecuona was another accomplished musician and composer. She was the author of the song "Babalú", made popular in the Latin American world by Miguelito Valdés, and in the United States by Desi Arnaz (who, contrary to popular folk lore, did not write the song).