Olga de Blanck

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Olga de Blanck
Birth nameOlga de Blanck
Born(1916-03-11)March 11, 1916
Havana, Cuba
DiedJuly 28, 1998(1998-07-28) (aged 82)
Havana, Cuba
Occupation(s)Pianist, composer, guitarist
InstrumentsPiano, guitar
Years active1935-1998

Olga de Blanck y Martín (11 March 1916 – 28 July 1998) was a Cuban pianist, guitarist and composer. She is considered to be one of the most noteworthy and prestigious persons in the history of the Cuban magisterium of music. She was born in Havana, the daughter of Hubert de Blanck and Pilar Martín.

She began her extraordinary musical studies in 1924 at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, which her father had founded in 1885, graduating from that institution several years later. There she studied piano, solfeggio and music theory. She further studied harmony in Havana with the noted Cuban composer, violinist and professor of music Amadeo Roldán (1900-1939) as well as with the professor of music and Cuban conductor Pedro Sanjuan (1887-1976). She lived in New York City from 1935-1938 and studied fugue and counterpoint there with the Brazilian composer Walter Burle Marx (1902-1990). Moving later to Mexico, where she lived from 1943-1944, she studied with the Mexican composer, violinist and music theorist Julián Carrillo (1875-1965) and with the Mexican composer Carlos Jiménez Mabarak (1916-1994).[1]

Upon her return to Cuba, she worked at the National Conservatory of Music where she elaborated the technical direction of that institution. She worked there with the Cuban composer and professor of music Gisela Hernández(1912-1971) to develop a system of musical pedagogy for the teaching of elemental music. She also was instrumental in founding the editorial Ediciones de Blanck[2] which was aimed primarily at publishing books on musicology and musical pedagogy. She founded the Sala Teatro Hubert de Blanck and organized the Opera Department at the Conservatory which allowed both professional and student singers to practice and develop their talents for the opera repertoire. She further created in 1956 the Departamento de Actividades Culturales which had three sectors: Music, Theater and Cultural Activities, this last with the aim of gathering together directors and professors from the Conservatory’s affiliated institutions and subsidiaries in order to exchange pedagogic experiences and develop new methods of instruction in musicology not only among themselves but also with foreign musical institutions with which the Conservatory worked closely.

In 1945 she was named sub-director of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música and in 1955 became its director.

Her musical Vivimos hoy was first performed in 1943 and in 1948 she won the Premio Nacional de la Canción Cubana for her song Mi guitarra guajira which was dedicated to the Cuban singer Esther Borja (born 1913). In 1957 she collaborated in the revision of the work 40 dances for piano by the Cuban pianist and composer Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905) which was published by Ediciones de Blanck in 1959. In 1965 she was designated a member of the committee whose task it was to review, compile and edit the most relevant works of the recordings and published works of Cuban composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries in order to relaunch them. A year later she wins all ten prizes related to a competition for the best children’s songs which was held by the Unión de Pioneros de Cuba and represented the first mass concerted effort by the Cuban Communist government to promote musical education for children on a national level.

In 1961, she prepared for the Escuela de Instructores de Arte a compendium of selected popular Cuban songs from the works of Eliseo Grenet (1893-1950), Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963), Sindo Garay (1867-1968) and Tania Castellanos (1920-1988). It was entitled Música Popular Cubana. Beginning in 1966 she launched in conjunction with the Consejo Nacional de Cultura[3] and the Departamento de Música de la Biblioteca Nacional José Martí a research effort to publish a collection of books which dealt with the lives and musical works of Cuban composers. Only the life and works of Ignacio Cervantes were actually edited and published.

In 1968 she was member of the technical team of the Plan de Educación and she wrote for the methodological magazine Simientes, which was destined for the workers of kindergartens and the parents of the children in these schools. In 1971 she was co-founder of the Museo de la Música in Havana. She died in Havana on 28 July 1998, aged 82.

As a pedagogue, she was greatly influential in the introduction and implementation of new methods and programs that were used in the study of music in Cuban schools. She was the founder of the Cuban musical kindergarten and along with Gisela Hernández was the author and composer of children's songs, musical games and story books, short pieces for piano and books dedicated to infantile music appreciation.

Many of her compositions are inspired by folk music and the practical use of Cuban rhythms and traditional popular instruments, especially the guitar, the characteristic sound of which resonates through her entire oeuvre.


  • Canciones: setenta y tres canciones; Songs; 1935-1954
  • Vivimos hoy; Musical in 3 Acts, text by María Julia Casanova; 1943
  • Hotel Tropical; Musical in 3 Acts, text by María Julia Casanova; 1944
  • Así te quise; Text by María Collazo; 1954
  • Guíame a Belén; Song; 1957
  • Muy felices pascuas; Song; 1957
  • Canto porque te quiero; Song; 1957
  • Mi guitarra guajira; Song; 1957
  • Recuerdas aquel diciembre; Song; 1957
  • Se que volverás; Song; 1957
  • La vida es el amor; Song; 1957
  • Brujos; Song; 1957
  • ¿Qué estaba pensando?; Song; 1957
  • Hasta mañana mi amor; Song; 1957
  • Por lejos que estés; Song; 1957
  • Hasta luego mi amor; Song; 1957
  • Embrujo de amor; Song; 1957
  • Un cuento de Navidad; Musical in 3 Acts, text by María Julia Casanova; 1958
  • 17 canciones cubanas; Songs; 1960-1970
  • 6 traditional Cuban and Latin American Carols; Choral music; 1961-1962
  • 24 traditional Cuban and Latin American Songs; Songs; 1961-1962
  • El encuentro; Ballet; 1962
  • Bohio; Ballet; 1964
  • 109 canciones; Songs; 1966-1973
  • El mago de Oz; Theater music in 1 Act; 1967
  • El caballito enano; Musical fairy-tale in 1 Act, text by Dora Alonso; 1967
  • Saltarín; Musical fairy-tale, text by Dora Alonso; 1967
  • Cantata guajira; Cantata, text by Emilio Ballagas; 1967
  • Trío de Cecilia Arizti; Trio for violin, cello and piano; 1968-1969
  • Trío de Hubert de Blanck; Trio for violin, cello and piano; 1968-1969
  • Mi patria cubana; Children's Songs; 1969
  • 26 sobre mi tierra; Lyrics by Mirta Aguirre; 1969
  • Canciones infantiles: La guira; Children's Songs; 1970
  • La tojosa; Lyrics by Dora Alonso; 1970
  • Pentasílabo; Instrumental; 1972
  • Décima es; Lyrics by Mirta Aguirre; 1972
  • Yo sé los nombres extraños; Lyrics by José Martí; 1972
  • Aprende que hoy no es ayer; Lyrics by Mirta Aguirre; 1972
  • Yo no me quejo no; Song; 1972
  • Canciones de Misifú; Children's Songs; 1972
  • Paso una paloma; Lyrics byNicolás Guillén; 1973
  • Camino mujer sin sombra; Lyrics by Mirta Aguirre; 1973
  • El agua lenta del río; Lyrics by Mirta Aguirre; 1973
  • No quiero aprender tus bailes; Lyrics by Mirta Aguirre; 1973
  • 5 canciones; Lyrics by Pepita Veritsky; 1973
  • Decimas guerreras; Choral music after the opera Patria by Hubert de Blanck; 1979
  • Portocromía; Piano; 1981
  • Misa cubana; Mass; 1987
  • Mayombe-Bombe-mayombe; Instrumental; 1987
  • Son; Lyrics by Rosario Antuña; 1988
  • Plegaria Así dijo Santa Rosa Filipa; For singing and organ; 1989
  • Caña dulce (Sugar Cane); Piano
  • El guajirito (The Country Farm Worker); Piano
  • Homenaje a la danza cubana (Homage to the Cuban Dance); Piano: I - Manuel Saumell; II - Ignacio Cervantes ; III - Ernesto Lecuona
  • La jaquita criolla (The Native Jaquita); Piano

Further educational work, often with Gisela Hernández and transcriptions and arrangements of compositions by other composers.


  1. ^ Sadie, Julie Anne; Samuel, Rhian (1994). The Norton/Grove dictionary of women composers (Digitized online by GoogleBooks). Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  2. ^ Pendle, Karin (2001). Women and music.
  3. ^ Orovio, Helio (2004). Cuban music from A to Z (Digitized online by GoogleBooks).
  • Frank Rijckaert, Biography of Hubert de Blanck, Calbona Uitgeverij Rotterdam, 2013, ISBN 978-94-91254-91-8
  • Armando Linares, producer and director. Así te quise.(documentary 1997, La Habana Cuba)