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Brouwer, Leo

Brouwer, Leo

Brouwer, Leo noted Cuban guitarist, conductor, and composer; b. Havana, March 1, 1939. He began music training in Havana, where he made his debut as a guitarist in 1955. In 1959 he went to the U.S. to study composition at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. and guitar at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Conn. Returning to Havana, he became a leading figure in avant-garde music circles. He also pursued a distinguished career as a guitar virtuoso, traveling all over the world. He likewise appeared as a conductor in his homeland and abroad. In 1972 he was in Berlin under the auspices of the Deutscher Akademischer Austaus-chdienst. In 1984 a guitar competition was founded in his honor in Japan. He served as music director of the Orquesta de Córdoba in Spain from 1992. In 1998 he received the Manuel de Falla Prize. He was awarded the National Music Prize of Cuba in 1999. Brouwer started composing in 1955 in a style that adapted sounds of popular Cuban culture. A second compositional period evolved around 1962. He became the first Cuban composer to embrace aleatory and open forms, and his Sonograma I was the first example of indeterminate music by a Cuban composer. Then, after 1973, he entered his third period, a self-described “New Simplic-ity” that fused his avant-garde techniques with previous styles of popular and classical music. Unique in his output are his 8 guitar concertos, which fall mostly in his third period: No. 1 (1972), No. 2, Concierto de Liège (1980–81), No. 3, Concierto Elegiaco (1985), No. 4, Concierto de Toronto (1987), No. 5, Concierto de Helsinki (1992), No. 6, Concierto de Bolos (1996), No. 7, La Habana (1997–98), and No. 9, Cantata de Perugia (1999). Among his other works are: 3 danzas concertants for Guitar and String Orch. (1958); Sonata for Solo cello (1960); Variantes for Percussionist (1962); Sonograma I for Prepared Piano (1963), II for Orch. (1964), and III for 2 Pianos (1968); Homage to Mingus for Jazz Band and Orch. (1965); Dos conceptos del tiempo for 10 Players (1965); Conmutaciones for Prepared Piano and Percussion (1966); La tradición se rompe...pero cuesta trabajo for Orch. (1967–69); El reino de esto mondo for Wind Quintet (1968); Cantigas del Hemp nuevo, cantata for Narrator, Children’s Chorus, and Small Ensemble or Orch. (1969); Exaedros I for Ensemble or Orch. (1969) and II for Percussionist and 2 Orch. Groups (1970); Sonata “pian e forte” for Piano (1970); Per sonore a tres for Guitar, Flute, and Viola (1970); Per sonore a due for Guitar and Tape (1971); Concerto for Flute and String Orch. (1972); Violin Concerto (1975–76); Canción de gesta for Chamber Orch. (1979); Baladas del Decameron Negro for Guitar (1981); Manuscrito antiguo encontrado en una botella for Piano Trio (1982); Cuban Landscape with Rumba for Guitar Quartet (1985); Guitar Sonata (1990); Double Concerto for Guitar, Violin, and Orch. (1995); Hika: In Memoriam Takemitsu for Guitar (1996); Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orch. (1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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