Ernesto Lecuona, always in my heart

Ernesto Lecuona, always in my heart

Heritage & Traditions

CubaPLUS Magazine

Memorable melodies by the Cuban pianist and composer Ernesto Lecuona, considered the most universal of the island's musicians, are still heard around the world, 58 years after his death.

Ernesto Sixto de la Asunción Lecuona Casado was born August 6, 1895 in the Havana neighborhood of Guanabacoa, lavish in terms of authentic culture and cradle of other great national artists. He began his music studies institutionally in 1904, at the Carlos Alfredo Peyrellade Conservatory, where he received piano lessons from Joaquín Nin, among other teachers, and later he entered the Hubert de Blanck Conservatory, where he was a student of that outstanding Dutch musician and graduated in 1913.

Before that, in 1909, he began to work as a pianist in cinemas, and his excellence was already glimpsed before this instrument, although he fundamentally stood out as a composer, and in 1912, a year before his graduation, his significant piece La Comparsa was released.

As part of his academic training, which ran parallel to his creative work, in 1916 he obtained a scholarship to study in the United States, where he received master classes from Ernesto Berumen, and made his first presentation at the Aeolian Hall, and other theaters like the Rialto, at the beginning of his later fruitful and extensive international career.

He composed some 400 songs, many of them hits, like Siboney; over 176 pieces for piano, including those that make up the memorable Suite Andalucía: Córdoba, Andaluza, Alhambra, Gitanerías, Guadalquivir, Malagueña, and 37 works for orchestra, including the famous Black Rhapsody.

Lecuona had a special predilection for aspects such as the musicals, the operetta, the ballet and the zarzuela, and later, Rosa La China, El Cafetal and María la O stand out, brought to the screen of Mexican cinema and also staged in Cuba and Spain.

For cinema, he composed a dozen soundtracks for Hollywood (United States), Spain and Latin America, and in 1942 he was nominated for an Academy Award for the music of the film Always in my Heart, a production of the Warner Brothers. Always in my heart is one of the most performed songs by singers from various eras, including tenor Plácido Domingo, one of whose albums is titled so and includes a selection of pieces by the Cuban composer.

The work of Ernesto Lecuona is immeasurable in a few lines, an author who knew how to reflect the national Creole in concert works and in the best of the popular music, died on November 29, 1963 in the Canary Islands, where he went to meet his origins from his residence in the United States.