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Alejandro Garcia Caturla
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Alejandro Garcia Caturla (07.03.1906 Remedios, Cuba-12.11.1940 Havana)
Alejandro Garcia Caturla studied low at the University of Havana and music (violin and conducting) with the Spanish teacher, conductor and composer Pedro Sanjuan (1887–1976) ¹. Between 1925 and 1927, he studied composition in Paris with the great French pedagogue and composer Nadia Boulanger (16.09.1887 Paris–22.10.1979 Paris).
The French publisher Maurice Sénart published in Paris in 1928 "Deux danses cubaines" by the 24-year-old composer from Cuba. Alejandro Garcia Caturla’s work "Danza del tambor" for violin and piano was published by Maurice Sénart too in 1929. The same year Maurice Sénart published Caturla’s "Deux poèmes afro-cubains" no.1 Mari-Sabel and No.2 Juego Santo, as well as Danses pour violoncelle et piano, Trois danses cubaines pour orchestre and one of his most popular works entitled "Bembé", mouvement afro-cubain pour piano et orchestre (flûte, hautbois, clarinette en la, clarinette basse en si-bémol, basson, 2 cors en fa, trompette en ut, trombone et percussion: caisse, cymbales, grosse caisse, tam-tam). "Bembé" was premiered in Paris in November 1929. The Russian born American conductor Nicolas Slonimsky (27.04.1894 St. Petersburg–25.12.1995 Los Angeles) performed "Bembé" in Paris in 1931. The great American composer Charles Ives (20.10.1874 Danbury, Connecticut–19.05.1954 New York), who did not ignore the name and the work of the young Cuban composer, sponsored this concert.
Caturla composed in 1925 his" Septuor de saxophones". His "Ouverture cubaine" was premiered in in April 1927. His symphonic movement entitled "La rumba" was written in 1927 too, "Cuban Suite No1" for eight wind instruments and piano — in 1928. Maurice Sénart published in Paris in 1931 "Bito Manné" pour chant et piano (voice and piano), inspired by verses of the poet Nicolás Guillén.
After Caturla’s death, Editorial Cooperativa interamericana de compositores published in Montevideo in 1943 "Dos canciones corales cubanas".
Departamento de música de la Biblioteca nacional/ La Habana published in 1960 Caturla’s Canciones para voz y piano inspired by Cuban national poet Nicolás Guillén (1904 Camargüey, Cuba–1989 Havana).
Edición Património musical in Havana published in 1975 Caturla’s Música para piano.
A convict on bail assassinated Alejandro Garcia Caturla in Havana, in front of the fashionable Café de Paris, on December 11th, 1940.
Alejandro Garcia Caturla died young and did not have enough time to realise fully his evident esthetical intentions aiming the syncretism of Afro-Cuban elements and Hesperian music principles. He remained faithful to the tonality in Bach-Rameau spirit. His 2 Cuban Dances (1927) , Danza del tambor (Allegro molto vivo) and Danza lucumi (Allegro SALVAJE/prestissimo) are expressed in A-minor and E flat-minor in 1927, fourteen years after Strawinsky’s "Rite of Spring", seventeen years after "Allegro barbaro" by Bartók and twenty-two years after the death of Ignácio Cervantes (1847–1905) whose 36 Cuban Dances he certainly did not ignore. Even in his work "Bembé" (1930), despite his rhythmic wit, Caturla adopts an already known idiom and does not try to create his own grammar and syntax. However, his works show a very sound structure, much appreciated by his French publisher Maurice Sénart, but do not show this invisible spark which makes difference between a great talent and the genius.
¹ Pedro Sanjuan, who moved to Cuba in 1913, taught also Amadeo Roldán (1900 Paris–1939 Havana), Caturla’s dearest colleague and friend.