Ernesto Lecuona y Casado (August 6, 1895 Guanabacoa, now part of Havana, Cuba - November 29, 1963 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands) was a Cuban composer and performer, perhaps the greatest and most legendary Cuban musician of his time.
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.
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 also played popular music with his Lecuona Cuban Boys band.
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