The Afro-Cuban composer, classical guitarist and conductor we now know
as Leo Brouwer was named Juan Leovigildo Brouwer when he came into the
world in Havana, Cuba on March 1, 1939. His enormous influence on guitar
music in particular and classical music in general is demonstrated by
more than a hundred recordings on which he has played, composed or
conducted. Brouwer's compositions reflect classical, Afro-Cuban, jazz
and avant-garde influences. His many film scores have brought his music
to the attention of a huge audience around the world. Brouwer's
influence in his native country results in part from the important
positions he has held in Cuban music institutions.
2 An Early Start
Young Leo's father, Juan Brouwer, was a doctor and an amateur guitarist.
Leo first learned music from his father and his aunt, Caridad Mezquida.
His great-uncle was the well-known composer and pianist Ernesto Lecuona.
Leo began playing the guitar himself at age 13. His first significant
teacher was Isaac Nicola, a virtuoso guitarist who also composed for his
instrument and arranged the music of others for guitar. Leo was only 17
when he made his own professional debut. Early compositions include
Prelude (1956) and Fugue (1959), both influenced by Bela Bartok and Igor
Stravinsky. His academic training took place in the U.S., at the
Julliard School of Music and the Hartt College of Music, where his major
subject of study was composition.
3 Positions in Cuba
After completing his music education, Brouwer returned to Cuba. There he
immediately became a major figure in his country's music establishment.
From 1960 to 1961 he was the Music Advisor to the National Radio and
Television Company in Havana. In 1960, Brouwer became Director of the
Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematograficos [Cuban Institute
of Film Arts and Industry]. That position is one of the reasons that the
composer has written more than 30 film scores, some of which were
box-office hits around the world. Brouwer was also a Professor of
Composition at the Conservatorio Nacional [National Conservatory] from
The titles in this list are made up of some older compositions and new
works by Leo Brouwer.
They are very well laid out and having tried some of these new pieces, I
can highly recommend playing them.