El Cimarrón (Henze)

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El Cimarrón (The Runaway Slave) is a composition by the German composer Hans Werner Henze, written when the composer lived in Cuba in 1969-1970. It is subtitled Biographie des geflohenen Sklaven Esteban Montejo (Biography of the runaway slave Esteban Montejo), and the libretto by Hans Magnus Enzensberger is based on the oral autobiography related in 1963 to Miguel Barnet by Montejo, who was also a veteran of the Cuban War of Independence (1895-98).

Henze described the score as a recital for four musicians. They consist of a baritone who portrays El Cimarrón himself, a guitarist, a flautist and a percussionist, although all four musicians play percussion instruments during the work. The flautist also plays the Japanese ryuteki and the Italian scacciapensieri, as well as the four conventional orchestral flutes.[1]

The work received its premiere at the 1970 Berlin Festival, with William Pearson as El Cimarrón, and the soloists Karlheinz Zoeller (flute), Leo Brouwer (guitar) and Stomu Yamash'ta (percussion) under the direction of the composer.[1] The UK premiere was in June 1970 at the Aldeburgh Festival with the same forces.

The Australian premiere was at the Adelaide Festival on 14 March, 1976, directed by the composer, with Lyndon Terracini as El Cimarrón, Geoffrey Collins (flute), Roger Glanville-Hicks (guitar), and Colin Piper (percussion).


The work is divided into fifteen "tableaux" which are essentially songs, although these make extensive vocal demands on the baritone, including laughter, whistling, shouting, screaming and falsetto.[1]

  1. Die Welt (The World)
  2. Der Cimarrón
  3. Die Sklaverei (Slavery)
  4. Die Flucht (Flight)
  5. Der Wald (The Forest)
  6. Die Geister (The Spirits)
  7. Die falsche Freiheit (False Freedom)
  8. Die Frauen (Women)
  9. Die Maschinen (The Machines)
  10. Die Pfarrer (The Clergy)
  11. Der Aufstand (The Uprising)
  12. Die Schlacht von Mal Tiempo (The Battle of Mal Tiempo)
  13. Der schlechte Sieg (The Evil Victory)
  14. Die Freundlichkeit (Frendliness)
  15. Das Messer (The Knife)


  1. ^ a b c Becker-Carsten, Wolfgang (1971). "Current Chronicle: Berlin". The Musical Quarterly. LVII (2): 314–317. doi:10.1093/mq/LVII.2.314. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 


  • Walsh, Stephen (1996) El Cimarrón, CD liner notes, Deutsche Grammophon.