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Biography of

Ernesto Lecuona

6 aug 1895 (Guanabocoa) - 23 nov 1963 (Santa Cruz de Tenerife)
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Ernesto Lecuona y Casado (August 6, 1895 Guanabacoa, Havana, Cuba - November 29, 1963 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain) was a Cuban composer and pianist of Canarian father and Cuban mother, and worldwide fame. He composed over six hundred pieces, mostly in the Cuban vein, and was a pianist of exceptional quality.[1][2]



Lecuona started early studying piano under his sister Ernestina, a famed composer in her own right. He later studied at the Peyrellade Conservatoire under Antonio Saavedra and the famous Joaquin Nin. Lecuona graduated from the National Conservatory of Havana with a Gold Medal for interpretation when he was sixteen. And he performed outside of Cuba at the Aeolian Hall (New York) in 1916.

Ernesto Lecuona: dedicated to Gonzalo Roig

He first travelled to Spain in 1924 on a concert tour with violinist Maria de la Torre; his successful piano recitals in 1928 at Paris coincided with a rise in interest in Cuban music.

He was a prolific composer of songs and music for stage and film. His works consisted of zarzuela, Afro-Cuban and Cuban rhythms, suites and many songs which are still very famous. They include Siboney (Canto Siboney), Malagueña and The Breeze And I (Andalucía). In 1942, his great hit, Always in my heart (Siempre en mi Corazon) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song; however, it lost to White Christmas. Lecuona was a master of the symphonic form and conducted the Ernesto Lecuona Symphonic Orchestra. The Orchestra performed in the Cuban Liberation Day Concert at Carnegie Hall on October 10, 1943. The concert included the world premiere of Lecuona's Black Rhapsody. Lecuona gave help and the use of his name to the popular touring group, the Lecuona Cuban Boys, though he did not play as a member of the band. He did sometimes play piano solos as the first item on the bill.

In 1960, thoroughly unhappy with Castro's new regime, Lecuona moved to Tampa. Lecuona lived his final years in the US. He died 3 years later at Santa Cruz de Tenerife at age 68, and is interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York A great deal of Lecuona's music was first introduced to mass American audiences by Desi Arnaz, a fellow Cuban and Lucille Ball's spouse.

Ernesto Lecuona
circa 1935

Lecuona's talent for composition has influenced the Latin American world in a way quite similar to George Gershwin in the United States, in his case raising Cuban music to classical status.

Ernesto and Ernestina's cousin Margarita Lecuona was another accomplished musician and composer. She was the author of the song "Babalú", made popular in the Latin American world by Miguelito Valdés, and in the United States by Desi Arnaz (who, contrary to popular folk lore, did not write the song).

Selected compositions

For piano

  • Suite Andalucía
    • Córdova/Córdoba
    • Andalucia/Andaluza
    • Alhambra
    • Gitanerías
    • Guadalquivir
    • Malagueña
  • San Francisco El Grande
  • Ante El Escorial
  • Zambra Gitana
  • Aragonesa
  • Granada
  • Valencia Mora
  • Aragón
The grave of Ernesto Lecuona in Gate of Heaven Cemetery


  • Si menor (Rococó)
  • La bemol
  • Apasionado
  • Crisantemo
  • Vals Azul
  • Maravilloso
  • Romántico
  • Poético


  • Ahí viene el chino
  • Al fin te vi
  • Amorosa
  • Andar
  • Aquí está
  • Arabesque
  • Bell Flower
  • Benilde
  • Burlesca
  • Canto del guajiro
  • Cajita de música
  • Como el arrullo de palma
  • Como baila el muñeco
  • Dame tu amor
  • Danza de los Ñáñigos
  • Danza Lucumí
  • Diario de un niño
  • Ella y yo
  • ¡Echate pa'llá María!
  • El batey
  • El miriñaque
  • El sombrero de yarey
  • El tanguito de mamá (también llamada A la Antigua)
  • En tres por cuatro
  • Eres tú el amor
  • Futurista
  • Gonzalo, ¡no bailes más!
  • Impromptu
  • La 32
  • La primera en la frente
  • La Comparsa
  • La conga de medianoche
  • La Habanera
  • La danza interrumpida
  • La mulata
  • La negra Lucumí
  • La Cardenense
  • Los Minstrels
  • Lola Cruz
  • Lola está de fiesta
  • Lloraba en sueños
  • Mazurka en glissado
  • Melancolía
  • Mientras yo comía maullaba el gato
  • Mis tristezas
  • Muñequita
  • Negra Mercé
  • Negrita
  • ¡No hables más!
  • No me olvides
  • No puedo contigo
  • Orquídeas
  • Pensaba en ti
  • Polichinela
  • ¿Por qué te vas?
  • Preludio en la noche
  • ¡Que risa me da! Mi abuela bailaba así
  • Rapsodia Negra
  • Rosa, la china
  • Tú serás
  • Tres miniaturas
  • ¡Y la negra bailaba!
  • ¡Y sigue la lloviznita!
  • Yo soy así
  • Yumurí
  • Zapateo y guajira
  • Zenaida


Ernesto Lecuona was included as a character in the novel The Island of Eternal Love, by Miami-based Cuban writer Daína Chaviano, together with other important names in Cuban music.


  1. ^ Orovio, Helio 2004. Cuban music from A to Z. Revised by Sue Steward. ISBN 0822331861 A biographical dictionary of Cuban music, artists, composers, groups and terms. Duke University, Durham NC; Tumi, Bath.
  2. ^ Díaz Ayala, Cristóbal 1981. Música cubana del Areyto a la Nueva Trova. 2nd rev ed, Cubanacan, San Juan P.R. p135 et seq.

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ernesto Lecuona. Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.
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