Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Amadeo Roldán (1900-1939), Afro-Cuban Composer of Percussion Works

[Rítmicas; Tambuco Percussion Ensemble; Camerata de las Américas; Ricardo Gallarda, Conductor; Dorian 90245 (1997)]

Amadeo Roldán was an Afro-Cuban composer, violinist, conductor and professor who is profiled at AfriClassical.com He was born in Paris to Cuban parents on July 12, 1900. Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma is Professor of Music at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. He has been writing about African heritage in classical music for four decades, and has generously made his research entry on Amadeo Roldan available to this Website. Prof. De Lerma points out that Roldán's full name was Amadeo Roldán y Gardes. He also tells us Roldán was only 5 years old when he began studying the violin.

Roldán graduated from the Madrid Conservatory in 1916 after studying music theory and violin. He later took private lessons in composition from Conrado el Campo, according to Prof. De Lerma. The young musician also played the violin on tour in Spain. The research entry of Dominique-René de Lerma continues: “He moved to Havana in 1919 and became a student of Pedro Sanjuan. In 1924 he became concertmaster of Havana's Orquesta Filarmonica and, following the death of Sanjuan, its conductor.”

Roldán's promotion to conductor of the Orquesta Filarmonica occurred in 1932.
Suite de La Rebambaramba (8:56) and Rítmica V (2:42) were recorded on CD by the New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, Argo 436 737 2 (1993). In the liner notes Simon Wright appraises Amadeo Roldán's role in the classical music of Cuba: “An enthusiastic conductor and composer, Roldán put 'serious' Cuban music on the map by primarily bringing Afro-Cuban rhythms and sounds to the concert hall. They were the inspiration behind the ballet La Rebambaramba (1827-28), based on a scenario by Alejo Carpentier depicting Havana's low-life on the day of Epiphany in 1830.”

This recording has been reissued as Latin American Classics, Eloquence 467603 (2002).
The Tambuco Percussion Ensemble has recorded Roldán's
Rítmica V (2:14) and Rítmica VI (2:00), both composed in 1930, on the CD Rítmicas, Dorian 90245 (1997). The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music says of Roldan: “He was the leading Cuban musical figure of his day; as a composer he was the first to integrate Afro-Cuban elements into European-oriented concert music, and among the first to compose works for percussion only.”

Amadeo+Roldan" rel="tag">Amadeo Roldan
Afro-Cuban+Composer" rel="tag">Afro-Cuban Composer
Percussion+Ensemble" rel="tag">Percussion Ensemble
La+Rebambaramba" rel="tag">La Rebambaramba
Afro-Cuban+Rhythms" rel="tag">Afro-Cuban Rhythms
Black+History" rel="tag">Black History

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