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The African Roots of Latin Music/ Module 4: Classical Fusion

Assignment 2a: Nationalism Revisited

Alejo Carpentier, Alejandro García Caturla and Amadeo Roldán participated in the Grupo Minorista of the 1920’s which established a new vision of Cuban culture as separate and distinct from Spanish culture and deeply rooted in the island’s African heritage. Influenced by the ideas and compositions of Igor Stravinsky, who sought inspiration in the autochtonous musical traditions of various cultural groups, the young Cuban composers delved into Afro-Cuban rhythms in search for innovations in their compositions. Caturla’s piece is a synthesis of a number of rhythms comprised in the complex genre of the Cuban danza, of which the habanera is the best-known and most influential.

Answer the following questions:

Explain how the European and native elements combine to create a dintinct Latin American genre in classical music.

Explore the following links dealing with race relations in nineteenth century Cuba as they are reflected in Cirilo Villaverde's "Cecilia Valdés", the work that inspired Gonzalo Roig's zarzuela:

How does the music of Cecilia's "Salida" reflect her race and social status? Who would dance the danza at the time? Who would dance the contradanza? How does Cecilia's world differ from Leonardo's?

Audio: Gonzalo Roig, "Cecilia Valdés"

Assignment 2b: Nationalism Revisited

Other American and Latin American composers like Aaron Copland, George Geshwin and Heitor Villa-Lobos, likewise influenced by Stravinsky's theories, sought inspiration in the music of the two Americas: jazz and Latin music, both grown from African roots.

The great teacher and conductor Nadia Boulanger, who counted Copland, Piazzolla and Roldán among her disciples, encouraged the young composers to search for musical innovations in the folklore of their respective lands.

Answer the following questions:

Explore the following site:

How did the composer and teacher Nadia Boulanger shape the artistic credo of Copland, Roldán and Piazzolla?

Find information about Heitor Villa-Lobos and answer the following questions:

Who were Villa-Lobos's followers and what musical movement did they help usher in the 1960's?

Audio: Aaron Copland:"Danzón Cubano"

Audio: George Gershwin: "Cuban Overture"

Audio: Heitor Villa-Lobos: "Bachiana Brasileira #5" (Renée Fleming; Michael Tilson Thomas-New World Symphony)


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