- December 28th, 2010
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Alejandro García Caturla (7 March 1906 – 12 November 1940) was a Cuban composer of art music and creolized Cuban themes.
He was born in Remedios. At sixteen he became a second violin of the new Orquesta Sinfonica de La Habana in 1922, where Amadeo Roldán was concert-master (first-chair violin). He also began composing at a young age, whilst studying both music and law. He was fascinated by creolized Afro-Cuban rhythms and these creole themes were characteristic of his compositions: the division between art music and popular music did not influence Cuban composers of this period.
After his student days, Caturla lived all his life in the small central town of Remedios, where he became a lawyer to support his growing family. He had relationships with a number of black women and fathered eleven children by them, which he adopted and supported. His Tres danzas cubanas for symphony orchestra was first performed in Spain in 1929. Bembe was premiered in Havana the same year. In 1932 he founded the Caibarien Concert Society, whose orchestra he conducted on many occasions. His Obertura cubana won first prize in a national contest in 1938. He was also a multi-instrumental musical performer and a baritone singer of some quality. Caturla was a fine man, and an example of a universal musician, happily combining classical and folkloric themes with modern musical ideas. He was murdered at 34 by a young gambler who was due to be sentenced only hours later.
His career followed a similar path to Amadeo Roldán, and the two men are considered to be pioneers of modern Cuban symphonic art. Check out Gonzalo’s masterful interpretation of Caturla’s Preludio Corto #2, Tu Amor Era Falso on his new release “Fé”.