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Cervantes Kawanagh, Ignacio (1847–1905)

Cervantes Kawanagh, Ignacio (1847–1905)

Ignacio Cervantes Kawanagh (b. 31 July 1847; d. 29 April 1905), pioneer of Cuban musical nationalism. Cervantes, a native of Havana, was not the first Cuban nationalist musician, but it was in his contradanzas that this musical genre found its fullest expression. He benefited from the friendship of the American composer Louis M. Gottschalk, who in 1865 advised Cervantes's parents to send him to study in Paris, where he won numerous awards. Like José White, another Cuban musician, he was forced by the Spaniards to leave Cuba (to which he had returned in 1870) during the Ten Years' War (1868–1878). He later became a friend of José Martí, whom he assisted in his revolutionary activities. As a composer his magnum opus was his series of Cuban dances (some forty of which are extant). Because of their richness and complexity, they became concert music. They have been described as "the soul of Cuba in full bloom." He died in Havana.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance .


José I. Lasaga, Cuban Lives: Pages from Cuban History (1984), vol. 1, pp. 223-231. See also Alejo Carpentier, La música en Cuba (1946).

Additional Bibliography

Mikowsky, Solomon Gadles. Ignacio Cervantes y la danza en Cuba. La Habana: Editorial Letras Cubanas, 1988.

                                  JosÉ M. HernÁndez

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