Alejandro García Caturla
He was born in Remedios. At sixteen he became a second violin of the new Orquesta Sinfonica de La Habana in 1922, where Amadeo Roldán was concert-master (first-chair violin). He also began composing at a young age, whilst studying both music and law. He was fascinated by creolized Afro-Cuban rhythms and these creole themes were characteristic of his compositions: the division between art music and popular music did not influence Cuban composers of this period.
After his student days, Caturla lived all his life in the small central town of Remedios. He became a lawyer and continued to compose music. His Tres danzas cubanas for symphony orchestra was first performed in Spain in 1929. Bembe was premiered in Havana the same year. In 1932 he founded the Caibarien Concert Society, whose orchestra he conducted on many occasions. His Obertura cubana won first prize in a national contest in 1938. He was also a multi-instrumental musical performer and a baritone singer of some quality.
Caturla has two upstanding legacies. The first, an example of a universal musician, happily combining classical and folkloric themes with modern musical ideas. His career followed a similar path to Amadeo Roldán, and the two men are considered to be pioneers of modern Cuban symphonic art. His second legacy is one of serving justice in Cuba's legal system, first as a lawyer and then as a judge. When serving as a judge, he was murdered at 34 by a young gambler whom he was due to sentence only hours later.
- Carpentier, Alejo 2001 . Music in Cuba. Minniapolis MN.
- Orovio, Helio 2004. Cuban music from A to Z. Revised by Sue Steward. ISBN 0-8223-3186-1 A biographical dictionary of Cuban music, artists, composers, groups and terms. Duke University, Durham NC; Tumi, Bath. p90–91 gives more details of his career.
- On the record
- White, Charles W. 2003. Alejandro Garcia Caturla: a Cuban composer in the twentieth century. Scarecrow Press, Lanham MD. Accompanied by audio CD.