Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Genius flexes his new found strength

In the winter of 1769 Leopold and Wolfgang Mozart set off by coach in the snow on an Italian Journey. Saying goodbye to the family, and luckily writing often, they were on a mission. As usual the goal was to make money and reaffirm contacts with the influential and the nobility (the prospect of work for the future). The significant part of this trip was to present the now mature musician to the world and to make this point Mozart was prepared to write his first true opera seria, Mitridate re di Ponte, commissioned for the Carnival in Milan. In the eighteenth century being a teenager meant getting on in the world, no one would have stood for or ever sympathized with our modern convention of the extended childhood (who could afford it?). At thirteen going on fourteen young Wolfgang was still regarded as a curiosity and something of a wonder. That he was a formidable virtuoso, talented improviser and supremely gifted composer was clear, but he was still only a beginner. There was much to learn and the boy had come to Italy to submit to the supreme masters who lived and worked in the Italian academies and universities. In this case Padre Martini, one of the greatest of musical pedagogues of the era who taught at the University of Bolonga. Possessed of a 17,000 volume personal library - his pupils included Andre Gretry, Josef Myslivecek, J. C. Bach and Mozart.

Wolfgang could really put on a show - he was witty and playful at dinners (and lucky, his father had an accident and he ran free for a while) he often filled churches and concert spaces playing and conducting from the keyboard. All of this was however only a prelude to what was to be his crowning achievement after completing an examination given by Martini and fellow academics. Their test was suppose to take three to four hours and was knocked out by Mozart in thirty minutes and then in a true show of his abilities, the young genius was then going to out Italian the Italians on their home ground with Mitridate. This almost no one believed: to play the magician (or clown) on the concert circuit was one thing, to submit to the discipline and challenge of a mature, extended dramatic work would require much more. Rumors circulated that "the boy" had bitten off more than he could chew. Here no one could have anticipated Mozart’s superhuman capacity for work, chronicled in detail in his letters home. Perhaps a portrait painted at the time says it best: seated at the keyboard before his own music and dressed in a red and gold jacket as one historian said "It’s the strangeness of the eyes. Those of a knowing child …"

courtesy of Wikipedia

The plot of the opera would include a five way love affair, pitting father (Mitridate) against two sons (Sifare and Farnace),add in a war (Pontus against Rome), and a sibling rivalry, (with two heroines Aspasia and Ismene ,who makes five …) Mozart complicated his task by adapting a text by no less than Racine, animating Roman history and writing virtuoso arias for four great castrato voices. The recitatives almost did him in; writing home to mother he cried about his aching hands. In anticipation of failure, several Italian composers offered the singers their music as "interpolations" (a common practice at the time) but, after reading over Mozart’s score no subtitutions were accepted. Mitridate re di Ponte was a complete success and was repeated twenty-one times. How did he do it? The answer was the structural solution - alleviate the constant harpsichord recitative accompaniment with orchestral writing of incredible delicacy. As one critic put it "He created a musical necklace in which the arias were a string of pearls." Some like the unforgettable Lungi da te , running 6 - 9:00 minutes with exquisite horn obliggato: 
Lungi da te , mio bene
Se vuoi ch’io porti il piede,

If you wish to wend my way
Far from you my beloved,
Do not remember the sufferings
You experience, my dear

Tune in to this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and experience what the Italians did in 1770. Who knew a mere boy could upset their sense of Italian supremacy in opera as much as Mozart‘s Mitridate re di Ponto? And we have a cast that suits the occasion: Cecilia Bartoli, Natalie Dessay, Sandrine Piau, Brian Asawa and Juan Diego Florenz among others. All of this at noon, on KPAC and KTXI.

by Ron Moore 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Monday

Andrzej Panufnik,
courtesy of

Today is the anniversary of Sir Andrzej Panufnik's birth. Born in Warsaw in 1914, Panufnik was a delightful composer and conductor, who spent part of his life in Poland, and later in England. Host John Clare describes his music as "grand simplicity" (tm) - which include ten symphonies; concerti for violin, piano, bassoon, and cello; three string quartets; as well as various piano, chamber and orchestral works.
Panufnik and Lutoslwski reunited in 1990
Andrzej studied with Felix Weingartner before the Second World War, and during the war, performed piano duets with composer Witold Lutoslawski - as you might have seen in the major motion picture, The Pianist.
Musicians like Leopold Stokowski, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yehudi Menhuhin, and Jascha Horenstein have recorded and championed his music. More recently recordings have been available from Naxos, CPO and Conifer labels.
Lady Camilla Panufnik, his wife, is a highly regarded photographer and their children, Roxanna and Jem are noted composer and sound artist respectively.
There is lots to love and enjoy in Panufnik's music - one of the great symphonies is an early one for Poland's millenium, Sinfonia Sacra. Both overtures, Tragic and Heroic, are well crafted. Here is the Violin Concerto from youtube:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Opera Fever, Puccini’s Turandot

In his impassioned, prolific and sometimes desperate correspondence concerning his last opera Turandot, Giacomo Puccini gives us a glimpse into the unlikely creation of a masterwork and the challenges and rewards that are part of the end of life and the demands of art.
courtesy of Wikipedia
As he traveled from city to city to oversee the productions of his Il Trittico he had also begun to consider proposals for a new opera. After rejecting a Shakespearean topic and Dickens’ Oliver Twist, he met his librettist Guiseppe Adami for lunch in Milan where there was broached the idea of Carlo Gozzi’s Turandot. Despite that fact that it had been staged at least seven times before, Puccini knew the work well and told Adami to contact Renato Simone and begin the libretto. What follows is a detailed record of an artist at the height of his fame. He races from Vienna, to Milan to Rome and London, New York and Paris arranging and negotiating - all the while being feted and praised. There is the usual mixture of gambling, (he loses 10,000 lire in Monte Carlo) flirtation with younger women, conferences with Mussolini and the buying of new property as the opera grows act by act. Slowly the theme of death and age takes up a larger and larger part of his life as relatives, siblings, fellow composers all begin to pass away. Increasingly the composer reflects on age and the passage of time as he reaches the milestone of his sixtieth year. It is in this context, on the threshold of being told that he has cancer, that he makes his way through the roller coaster ride of trying to complete his magnum opus. In comments to friends Puccini refers to “Needing to be gripped by the fever“ to finish. The composer it seems needed to be in a fit of an elusive and unpredictable inspiration to create the grand melodies for which he is so justly revered. What followed was a five year struggle, 1919-1924, in which he went from one strategy to another, with no end in sight. He constantly contemplated abandoning the project and then a burst of inspiration would revive his flagging spirits. He rightly predicted in his final year that he would be composing it from the tomb. He would never live to write its conclusion.
courtesy of Wikipedia

The plot of Turandot is a double adaptation from a play by Gozzi and this in turn taken from a tale in the Thousand and One Nights. From all around the world young nobles have come to Peking to vie for the hand of the haughty and contemptuous Princess Turandot. It is a matter of waging one’s very life for this love .The announcement of intention begins with the ringing of a gong in a public square and this leads to a confrontation with Turandot in which three riddles are given, to fail to answer them is to suffer death and all comers have failed. Into this drama steps Prince Calaf, in flight from a palace coup. He is accompanied by his father Timur, who is blind, and his helper and slave Liu. She follows in part to attend the old man and in part to be near Calaf whom she loves. Despite pleas on the part of the people of Peking in glorious choruses, the courtiers Ping, Pang and Pong (who afford comic relief to the carnage ) and her father the aging Emperor Altoum, Calaf rings the gong. This at the very moment that we are treated to the spectacle of the beheading of the doomed Prince of Persia. To the astonishment of all Calaf succeeds where all others have failed and answers the riddles. Turandot horrified begs her father to protect her against the laws of the land and the terms of the contest. Generous in victory Calaf offers the Princess a final option: if she can discover his name by dawn he will relinquish his claim. This gives us the great aria Nessum Dorma , as Turandot decrees that no one sleeps until she has uncovered the Prince’s name. Fearing  failure and desperate she threatens to torture Timur and Liu and she claiming that only she knows his name protects him by stabbing herself and committing suicide. The emotional balance of the opera shifts after the great tenor solo:
Nessum dorma ! Nessum dorma!
Tu pura, o Principessa,
Nella sua fredda stanza
No man shall sleep! No man shall sleep!
You too, o Princess,
In your chaste room are watching the stars which
tremble with love and hope!
When Puccini finished Nessum dorma he wrote that he thought it would be the great remembered aria of the opera, how right he proved to be. With the death of the character Liu his composition ceased and as he predicted, he died without completing the final scene and duet in which Turandot capitulates after Calaf  in a final act of love, offers his name to her and she rather than deny her love confesses it at last to the jubilation of all Peking. This last part written of the opera was orchestrated by Franco Alfano from Puccini’s last sketches.
Tune in for this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and what has been called “ the last Grand Opera “ , Puccini’s Turandot with Birgit Nilsson in the title role and Franco Corelli as Calaf. The gong strikes at noon on KPAC and KTXI.
by Ron Moore

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Classical Spotlight: Horn in Library

We normally have a french horn in the Music Library at KPAC, our very own James Baker is an accomplished player and practices here and there in the TPR studios. This week though, host John Clare had FOUR horns performing in the library, previewing their upcoming recital at Trinity University.
"I am soloing with the San Antonio Symphony this season, playing a Mozart Concerto, and I wanted to play it ahead of time in a safe environment." Jeff Garza, principal horn of the San Antonio Symphony. "So I booked the hall at Trinity since I also teach there, but I didn't want it to be just another horn and piano recital - I've been, slept through enough of those! Plus, I really wanted to play with my colleagues at the symphony. So the first half of the concert is solo horn: I play Mozart, Katie plays some Amram, and we all play on the second half."
The concert is Sunday afternoon at Trinity University (see their humorous poster pictured left!) and you can hear a preview and more of Jeff Garza's interview on Classical Spotlight, Thursday afternoon at 1pm (central) on KPAC & KTXI.

There's also an exclusive video on our Facebook page of the quartet announcing their nicknames!

Piano recital

Auguste Antonov,
courtesy of the artist

Auguste Antonov performs at UIW’s Our Lady’s Chapel at 7pm, Thursday September 20th. Open to the public, the recital includes Joshua de Bonilla- Upon the Water; Gregory Hutter- The Melancholy Rags, book 1; Carter Pann- Upstate Rag; Carter Pann- Soiree Macabre; Matthew Saunders- Piano Sonata; and Matthew Saunders- Starry Wanderers, Earthly Hope & Stillness at the Edge.

Find out more at

Monday, September 17, 2012

Music Monday

Today is the anniversary of Charles Griffes' birthday, born in 1884. He is an important figure in American music, even though he is not very well known. Griffes wrote amazing vocal music and has a few orchestra pieces performed occasionally - one our favorites highlights the flute:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Eduardo Mata y Cuarteto Latinoamericano

Mexican conductor and composer Eduardo Mata (center), flanked by members of the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. This was the core of one of Mata's final projects, the ensemble Solistas de Mexico. The quartet was augmented by a group of instrumentalists hand picked by Maestro Mata. Solistas de Mexico went on to make numerous appearances at the Festival Internacional de Cervantino and two tours of Europe, all the while playing many concerts in Mexico City and other destinations across Mexico. Eduardo Mata died tragically the morning of January 4, 1995, when the small plane he was piloting crashed soon after takeoff from Cuernavaca, Mexico. I was privileged to be a member of Solistas de Mexico from 1987-1992.
-James Baker, host and producer of Itinerarios: Music with Latin American Roots

Friday, September 14, 2012

Der Rosenkavalier - Fond Memories

Not to steal the show from my long time friend and colleague Ron Moore, but I thought I would take just a moment to reflect on my earliest experiences with Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. It must have been either 1968 or '9; I was just a greenhorn music student, a horn player, at the University of Texas at Austin. Walter Ducloux had just come in to take over the UT Opera. The truth is, he didn't just assume the role. He challenged the UT Opera with a production of Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier.

I had not yet been around long enough to break into the UT Orchestra. There were more experienced and skilled players already in that deep end of the pool. However, I got my small opportunity with an offstage part in the final act. A small orchestra plays Baron Ochs' waltz as background to one of his romantic "interludes." The rehearsals were eye-opening for me. I saw how hard the pit orchestra had to work and also how demanding Maestro Ducloux was. But I also got to see an opera being made, closeup.

After each rehearsal and performance, at UT's venerable Hogg Auditorium, I would play my part, then quickly pack my horn, rush out the back door, then slip back into the auditorium to find a seat in the back row. From here I watched, awestruck by the performance, but even more profoundly moved by the emotional and artistic power of the opera. The final trio would unfold, and every night my tears would begin to flow. I was helpless in the grasp of the art, yet more than willing to surrender. I became of that moment, heart palpitating, trembling. The perfection of those final moments still causes my heart to sing whenever I hear, or see, that final scene. Yes, I still cry, not now and then, but every time I listen to Rosenkavalier. Listen, really listen, and you will too.
James Baker - Classical Music Host, KPAC-San Antonio

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Der Rosenkavalier - magic at last!

courtesy of Wikipedia
Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier defies many clichés, but its operatic magic prevails against all logic. Such as, "Classical twentieth century music can never be really popular; opera is dead; how can something really be funny in another language” and most importantly, "Too many cooks spoil the broth”. Well, depends on who’s cooking.

courtesy of Wikipedia
The origin of what is still considered the most popular of all modern German operas began in a park in Weimar where the poet-librettist Hugo von Hoffmansthal and Count Harry Kessler sat discussing a scenario for a comic opera. The librettist's partner, Strauss had suggested a Renaissance subject, Hoffmansthal demurred. Perhaps an eighteenth century piece tying together Vienna and the reign of Maria Theresa? Incredibly Kessler suggested a French farce that dealt with a marriage between two unlikely people and a third younger man. And there was a twist of classes, one poorer, one rich and the conflict of town versus country with a pinch of middle class aspirations the story got started. Add money and top off with aristocratic hypocrisy tinged with erotic vulgarity. So far so good, so the conversation continues in Berlin. Hoffmansthal transposes the location to eighteenth century Vienna and made two critical adjustments with Strauss insisting on some important social ritual that ties the cast together; this would be his “invented” creation of a Rose Bearer and the great scene of the Presentation of the Rose. For contrast mix in two opposing couples and visions of love, perhaps even three. The character of the Marschallin, marginal up to this point grew in stature; the original scenario centered on Baron Ochs' search for a lucrative marriage and that inspired the working title was Ochs von Lerchenau. Now, the librettist had drawn inspiration from all these people and many historical, literary, pictorial (satirical British artist William Hogarth’s engravings) and finally, the commedia della arte provided two secondary Italian figures who scheme and double deal throughout. The cast is complete, but how on earth to pull all these diverse elements together in one work? Enter director Max Rheinhardt. Then after all this and endless rewrites and terror at a failed third act, Strauss introduces waltz tempi and sequences of dancing in an eighteenth century setting and suddenly the verses of the final third act are among the greatest ever written for opera: 

Kannst du lachen ? Mir ist zur Stell
Bang wie an der himmelischen Schwell !
Halt mich , ein schwach Ding , wie ich bin ,
Sink’ dir dahin !
Can you smile? At this moment
I am in awe as if I were at the Gate of Heaven!
Hold me, for weak thing that I am,
I ‘m falling !
That we two are together,
For all time and for eternity!

It is at this moment and the transitional music to it in which Strauss' imagination takes wing. After a flood of lyricism with horn accompaniment like the sun rising after a cleansing rain, we are treated to an ethereal and virtuoso soprano trio that then rises even higher as closing duet. Some of the most beautiful ever written for the soprano voice.
What was the response after all this? Something like a cross between a modern movie premiere and a championship soccer match. Tickets sold out and sold out. There were not enough coaches to accommodate the audience (it is 1911 remember) and so special trains have to be diverted to Dresden for the run of the season, I think there were 73 repetitions. There followed orchestral suites, a movie (silent with Strauss soundtrack), chocolates, cigarettes and champagne were marketed bearing the operas title. So lucrative has the opera proved to be at the distance of now over one hundred years that only recently has a court case been settled in which the Hoffmansthal estate finally claimed it part of the century’s proceeds in a judicial ruling between the poet and the composer’s families .
Tune in for this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera for the work whose magic reaches across a century, Strauss’ Der  Rosenkavalier; featuring Te Kanawa, von Otter, Hendricks and true to it’s premiere orchestral ensemble Staatskapelle Dresden and Bernard Haitink. Here at noon on KPAC and KTXI.
by Ron Moore

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Music for the ages

Two talks about the impact of music take place tonight and tomorrow. From the Mid Texas Symphony's press release:
The power of music is unmistakable, especially in the lives of children. Exposure to music at an early age promotes self-discipline, confidence and abstract thinking. It's no wonder children who can read music or play an instrument also have a better understanding of math, science and language.
Born of this notion is the Community Music Academy's Lindenbaum Outreach program, which offers Suzuki strings classes and training choirs for the Seguin, Navarro and New Braunfels Independent School Districts.
Come witness the journey of these young musicians during The Power of Music Symposium's discussion of music in the lives of children on Wednesday, September 12 at 7 p.m. in Jackson Auditorium. Akiko Fujimoto of the San Antonio Symphony and UT Strings Project director Laurie Scott will talk about the impact of music on their childhood, followed by a short documentary about the Community Music Academy and a performance by the strings students. The evening will close with a panel discussion by educators and music professionals including Mid-Texas Symphony Music Director David Mairs, Mid-Texas Symphony Board members Marj Peters and Dr. Carl McCauley, and Windecker Chair and Mid-Texas Symphony violist Eliza Thomason.

The symposium continues on Thursday evening with a screening of Alive Inside, a film about the impact of music on the lives of the elderly and the power music has to awaken deeply locked memories. The film follows Dan Cohen, a social worker, who decides on a whim to bring iPods to a nursing home. To his and the staff's surprise many residents suffering from memory loss seem to "awaken" when they are able to listen to music from their past. Following the screening, a panel explores music and the elderly.
There is more here: All symposium events are free and open to the public.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Music Monday

Today is the 71st birthday of Christopher Hogwood! He is well represented in recordings, especially known for music written before 1830.
We thought this was an excellent discussion about music.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Follow Friday

Back in 1971, Leonard Bernstein's Mass was first performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. We love the work and especially the Marin Alsop version on Naxos. Enjoy this interview with the maestra:

Early on in the work is this selection, and one of our favorite versions - Renee Fleming.
Follow more great music like this everyday on KPAC & KTXI.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rossini’s Farewell, William Tell

Many people, not knowing “exactly” the circumstances, still marvel that Gioacchino Rossini retired from the opera (not from music) in 1829 at the age of thirty-seven. There were rumors in the world press and especially in Paris during the completion of his penultimate opera, Le Comte D’Ory, that his next opera, Guillaume Tell would be his last.
To understand this decision you must first realize the staggering feat of musical creativity that had characterized Rossini’s life. His father rightly defended him explaining “He has worked his whole life.” This was no passing remark or simple excuse of a proud and grateful father for his greatly gifted son. Not only had Rossini taken upon himself the support of his immediate family and his wife Isabelle, but had worked professionally since about the age of sixteen. When we speak of even the greatest composer’s we refer to the masterpiece of this or that year, or early late and middle period styles. In Rossini’s furious industry, all of this blurs into an almost incomprehensible fever of sustained work. The list of operas (dating from 1808-1829) alone runs to almost forty works, he wrote masterworks not by the year, but by the season. In 1819 alone he wrote Ermione in March, Eduardo e Cristina in April, La Donna del Lago in September and Bianca e Falliero in December.
By 1828-29 Rossini had entered into a contract not with an agent or an opera house but with the French government; the contract for his lifetime annuity signed by Charles X himself. It was under these conditions that he commenced his final and monumental Tell, which Berlioz pronounced “sublime “. The plot deals with an amalgam of Swiss history, legend and the play by Schiller. It required five librettist including Rossini himself to arrive at the text he required. It deals with at first a romance between Mathilde and Arnold. She is an Austrian Princess, he a Swiss soldier intent on glory to win her hand. But, Switzerland is occupied by Austria and by degrees patriotism, friendship and personal honor will eclipse the usual loyalties of romantic love, family, community and armies.  At the center of this drama is the Swiss hero William Tell who rallies them all by example and by the opera’s finale even Mathilde will side with the Swiss rebels. Musically it is the summation of all Rossini learned in his career despite the epic scale (it runs to four hours) Guillaume Tell is a controlled and measured work. Ensembles, arias, choruses, orchestral writing, pastoral settings, nature evocation the conflicts of lovers, rivals, nations and armies are organically molded into a vast totality that never collapses of its’ own weight. Like the great overture many of its’ arias continue live on their own: 
Sombre foret , desert triste et sauvage ,
Je vous prefere aux splendeurs des palais
Brooding forest, moorland spaces,
How great the pleasures you inspire!
To yonder heights where the storm –wind races,
Calmly my heart will confess its desire
William Tell is a fitting close to an illustrious career and worthy proof of a well deserved rest.
Tune in to this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera presentation of one of the monuments of romantic opera in the rarely heard complete version, four acts in French. The cast includes Caballe, Mesple, Bacquier and Gedda . That’s Guillaume Tell, here at noon, on KPAC and KTXI.   
by Ron Moore

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Carnegie Hall Live: 2012-2013 Season

Last year, KPAC 88.3 FM listeners were treated to prime seats at Carnegie Hall through a series of live broadcasts from the famed venue, featuring performers as diverse as the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, to soprano Karita Mattila, to superstar pianist Lang Lang.  I think WQXR host Jeff Spurgeon and Performance Today's Fred Child did a great job of making the concerts into real events, commenting on the performances with an enthusiasm usually reserved for top-ranking sports teams. It made for exciting listening!

American Public Media and WQXR-FM have just announced their 2012-2013 series of concerts, and KPAC and KTXI listeners will again have the opportunity to hear these terrific performances as they happen.

Some of the highlights this year include a complete performance of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on October 3 at 6 p.m., Gustavo Dudamel leading the
Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra in a concert of Latin and South American music on December 10 at 7 p.m., and the barrier-breaking West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with an all-Beethoven program on Sunday, February 3 at 1 p.m.

Happy listening!

--Nathan Cone

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Father(s) of Cuban Symphonic Music

Amadeo Roldan (1900-1939), despite not being of Cuban birth, is generally regarded, along with Alejandro Garcia Caturla (1906-1940), as the “Father of Cuban Orchestral Music.” Gonzalo Roig (1890-1970) emerged as yet another pioneer of Cuban symphonic music and also as the creator of one of the most distinctive Cuban zarzuelas, “Cecilia Valdes.” There were others who were also actively creating during the first half of the 20th Century a style of Cuban music known as “musica Afrocubana,” but the trio of Roldan, Garcia Caturla, and Roig was of such influence that it would be hard to imagine Cuban classical music emerging internationally without their successes.

Stamp commemorating Amadeo Roldan
Amadeo Roldan was born in Paris, in 1900, of a Cuban mother and Spanish father. Although his early training as a musician was from his father, a pianist, and instruction at the Madrid Conservatory of Music, Roldan felt his true musical language was Cuban. Not surprisingly, when he finally arrived in Havana in 1919, as a touring violinist, he stayed, taking Cuban citizenship. Although Roldan continued to support himself largely as a performing instrumentalist (violin, viola, and piano) and as a member of the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra, he also began writing music. In 1925, he composed Obertura sobre temas cubanos, using elements of Cuban folk music. The following year, he organized a concert of new music concerts. Other compositions would follow, along with performances not only in Cuba, but around the globe. Sadly, Amadeo Roldan died at the peak of his creativity, months short of his 39th birthday.

Alejandro Garcia Caturla
Alejandro Garcia Caturla also died tragically young (he was but 34), somewhat as a consequence of his double career as a lawyer and musician. Nadia Boulanger, famous for her encouragement of young composers, was especially generous when she described Garcia Caturla. “Seldom have I had a student as gifted as him…..He is a force of nature: you’d better leave it alone so it can manifest itself.” Garcia Caturla first attracted major attention with his composition Tres danzas cubanas, first performed at the Ibero-American Symphonic Festival at the Barcelona International Exhibition in 1929. A man of tremendous energy, he wrote music, played multiple instruments, was a gifted baritone singer, and played regularly with the Havana Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gonzalo Roig. All the while, Garcia Caturla practiced law, passionate for justice, and was an active participant in significant social movements. By 1940, he had been appointed a judge. On November 12, 1940, he was murdered by a prisoner who was hours away from sentencing.

Gonzalo Roig
Gonzalo Roig’s reputation as a pioneer of Cuban symphonic music is largely based on his work as the founder and conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. As a composer, Roig wrote numerous songs, many of which are still essential entries in the Cuban songbook. His first musical work, written in 1907, was the song La voz del infortunio. Several years later came the criolla-bolero Quiereme mucho (You Love me a Lot, or more commonly Yours). As with Amadeo Roldan and Alejandro Garcia Caturla, Roig was drawing upon the popular trend called “musica Afrocubana”, acknowledging the multiplicity of Cuban culture. In 1930, the Pan-American Union invited Roig to conduct a series of concerts in the United States. Over the course of this successful tour, he conducted the U.S. Army Band, the U.S. Marine Band and the U.S. Navy Band. He brought with him numerous Cuban percussion instruments, many of them not previously seen or heard outside of Cuba. His introduction of the quijada, made from the jawbone of an ass, was said to have created quite a sensation. Gonzalo Roig remained active until his death in 1970, aged 79. He is best remembered today for his songs and for the zarzuela Cecilia Valdes.

The focus of this week's edition of Itinerarios (9/2/2012)  will be the musical contributions of these three essential Cuban composers of the 20th Century. Next week's program (9/9/2012) will continue the topic of Cuban music with a consideration of Leo Brouwer, Tania Leon and Aurelio de la Vega. Itinerarios is heard every Sunday evening from 7-9 o'clock on KPAC-San Antonio (FM 88.3) and KTXI-Ingram (FM 90.1). The program also streams live online. Click here to listen. Choose KPAC.
----James Baker, producer and host of Itinerarios