ERNESTO LECUONA – BRIEF BIO Ernesto Lecuona y Casado (August 6, 1895 – November 29, 1963) was a Cuban composer and pianist of worldwide fame. He composed over six hundred pieces.
Born in Guanabacoa, a suburb of Havana, Cuba, Lecuona studied at the Peyrellade Conservatoire in Paris under Antonio Saavedra, Maurice Ravel and Joaquín Nin. He graduated from the National Conservatory of Havana with a Gold Medal for interpretation when he was sixteen.
He had his New York City debut in 1916 at Aeolian Hall. Lecuona’s hit zarzuela, María la O, premiered in Havana in 1930. He was a prolific composer of songs and music for stage and film as well as the concert hall.
His works consisted of zarzuela, classical works integrating Afro-Cuban and Cuban rhythms, suites, symphonies and many still popular songs. These include Siboney, Malagueña and Andalucía (popularized in the States as The Breeze And I). His Always in my Heart (originally Siempre en mi Corazón) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song in 1942, but lost to White Christmas. (His cousin Margarita Lecuona wrote Babalú, popularized in the United States by Desi Arnaz of The Lucy Show fame.)
Ernesto Lecuona died in Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands, his father’s homeland, and is buried in Hawthorn, New York not far from the Hudson River.
As Huberal Herrera says: I met Ernesto Lecuona in person in the 50’s. He was a tall man, his hair was black, with expressive eyes and a man of few words, but nice and accessible. In his house, where he was always surrounded by friends, there were often spontaneous performances where someone sang and others played piano. Once I was there and when he asked me, I sat to play... Afterwards, he sang my praises and asked me what I did. I told him that I had three university degrees, in legal specialties, and that I had also just finished my piano studies.
He said he was impressed, especially since I was quite young at that time. Since that day, we started a great friendship... He gave me the opportunity to perform his pieces... he gave me advice that until today continues to add to my understanding of his pieces, and he favored me with a present of some handwritten original pieces that I felt fortunate to premier.
The recordings on this CD rescue these really beautiful songs from oblivion, as they are rarely sung recently. They were chosen with exquisite taste by this soprano, AnaMaría Ruimonte, to further enrich the vast repertoire of Ibero-American musician.