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García Caturla, Alejandro (1906–1940)

García Caturla, Alejandro (1906–1940)

Alejandro García Caturla (b. 7 March 1906; d. 12 November 1940) Cuban composer, considered among the most talented musical artists of Cuba. Born in Remedios, Caturla was a lawyer by profession and became a judge. He studied music with Pedro Sanjuán in Havana (1926–1927) and attended Nadia Boulanger's classes in Paris (1928). He was founder and first conductor of the Orquesta de Conciertos Caibarién, a chamber ensemble. Together with composer Amadeo Roldán, Caturla became the leader of Afrocu-banismo, a nationalist musical trend, which mixed elements of white and black culture, incorporating Afro-Cuban songs, rhythms, and dances. Later on he used advanced techniques and French Impressionist styles combined with primitive tunes; as a result, some of his works show surprising juxtapositions of chords and moods. He composed Concierto de cámara, Obertura cubana, Danzas cubanas, and a suite for orchestra (1938). Many vocal works were inspired by Cuban poets such as Alejo Carpentier and Nicolás Guillén; other works include one string quartet (1927), Bembé, for fourteen instruments, and Primera suite cubana (1930) among others. He produced numerous piano works, among them Danza lucumí (1928) and Sonata (1939). Murdered by a criminal tried in his court, he left unfinished one opera, a ballet, his Primera sinfonía, one concerto for piano and orchestra, and several piano and vocal works.

See alsoCuba: The Republic (1898–1959); Music: Art Music.


Alejandro García Caturla, "The Development of Cuban Music," in American Composers on American Music, edited by Henry Cowell, (1933).

A. Salazar, "La obra musical de Alejandro García Caturla," in Revista Cubana (January 1938): 5-43; Composers of the Americas, vol. 3 (1957).

Gérard Béhague, Music in Latin America (1979).

Stanley Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 4 (1980).

Additional Bibliography

Carpentier, Alejo. Music in Cuba. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

White, Charles W. Alejandro García Caturla: A Cuban Composer in the Twentieth Century. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2003.

                                       Susana Salgado

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