Sunday, May 8, 2016

José Silvestre White (1835-1918), Amadeo Roldán y Gardes (1900-1939) and Leo Brouwer (b. 1939) are Leading Afro-Cuban Classical Composers & Musicians

José Silvestre White, Afro-Cuban violinist and composer. Shown here after he received the 1st prize for violin at the Conservatoire de Paris in 1856. Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th & 19th Centuries
José Silvestre White 

Violin Concerto in F-sharp Minor (21:24)

Rachel Barton, violin 

Encore Chamber Orchestra 
Daniel Hege, Conductor 
Cedille Records 90000 035 (1997)

Centenario Natalicio de Amadeo Roldan
(Centennial of Birth of Amadeo Roldan)
Cuba Stamp 2000

Leo Brouwer (b. 1939)
His music is available at:

Leo Brouwer: Music for Bandurria and Guitar
Pedro Chamorro, Bandurria
Pedro Mateo González, Guitar
Naxos 8.573363 (62:35)

Leo Brouwer: The String Quartets and String Trio 
The Havana String Quartet 
ZOHO Classix ZM 201108 (2011)

This post is in recognition of Cuba Music Week May 14-22, 2016, announced by the Archive of Contemporary Music in partnership with Columbia University Libraries, Rockamedia and the Internet Archive.

Afro-Cuban Classical Composers and Musicians have been an important part of Cuban musical culture since the middle of the 19th century.  Short biographies of three such individuals are found at the website  They are José Silvestre White (1835-1918), Amadeo Roldán y Gardes (1900-1939) and Leo Brouwer (b. 1939)

José Silvestre White, aka José Silvestre White y Lafitte, was an Afro-Cuban composer, violinist and professor.  His mother was Afro-Cuban and his father Spanish.  Josephine Wright, Professor of Music at the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio has published an article Violinist José White in Paris, 1855-1875, in  Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2, Fall 1990.  Among White's recorded works is his Violin Concerto in F-sharp Minor (21:24), recorded by Rachel Barton, violin and the Encore Chamber Orchestra conducted by Daniel Hege on  Cedille Records 90000 035 (1997).                               

Amadeo Roldán y Gardes was an Afro-Cuban composer, violinist, conductor and professor.  He was born on July 12, 1900.  The late Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,, wrote about African heritage in classical music for four decades.  He tells us the composer was born in Paris to Cuban parents, and studied music in Spain before settling in Cuba, where he rose rapidly in the country's institutions of classical music during his short career.

Leo Brouwer was born in Havana, Cuba on March 1, 1939.  His enormous influence on guitar music in particular and classical music in general is demonstrated by more than a hundred recordings on which he has played, composed or conducted.  Brouwer's compositions reflect classical, Afro-Cuban, jazz and avant-garde influences.  His many film scores have brought his music to the attention of a huge audience around the world.  Brouwer's influence in his native country results in part from the important positions he has held in Cuban music institutions.  

Leo Brouwer is credited with the founding of The Havana String Quartet in 1980. In 2011 the Quartet released a recording of Brouwer's four String Quartets and his String Trio on the Zoho Classix label.  Fanfare Magazine was among the publications which reviewed the disc very favorably, and it won a Latin Grammy.
Maestro Brouwer's career as a conductor included the founding of the Orquesta de Cordoba in Spain, which he conducted for its first several years.  Chamber Music Festivals and other music events are among his current activities.   A 2016 release from Naxos is the CD Leo Brouwer: Music for Bandurria and Guitar.                        

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