Cuban Women in Music: a Case Study of Ernestina Lecuona
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Cuba, with only a short history as an independent nation, was under Spain’s control for over five hundred years. As an exporter of sugar and agricultural products, Spain brought to the island African slave laborers, and Cuba has since emerged a land with mixed races and a diversity of cultures. However, due to the inherent social hierarchy, different races were kept separate, and this situation persisted until the late nineteenth century. When Cuba finally claimed its nationhood in 1893, the opportunity for interaction among different races initiated an amalgam of cultures, where music in particular played a part in constructing Cuba’s distinct characteristics. Under unstable political conditions, the Cuban people experienced some riots and civil wars in the first half of the twentieth century. At the same time, the improvement of social services between 1900 and 1930 provided public education to citizens, regardless of gender or class. As an era of promoting women’s rights, the first feminist movement began in France in the 1920s then extended to Cuba, first among only elite Cuban women then managing to affect all classes of women on the island. Ernestina Lecuona Casado (1882 1951) was a Cuban female composer, pianist, and poet active in the early twentieth century. As a discovery of Ernestina Lecuona, this paper will discuss her life and music as she worked under the specific cultural, social, and political influences of her time. I will trace her success as a performer and composer in a male-dominated music industry. Ernestina’s career intersected with the flourishing development of Cuban popular music, so through a study of her music, I can explore simultaneously the contemporary Cuban musical styles and trends prevalent in the first half of the twentieth century.
Table of Contents
Introduction and literature review -- Background of Cuba: slavery, the colonial period, and independence -- Popular music in Cuba in the early 1900s -- The idea of great motherhood and patriarchal attitudes in Cuba -- General overview of women in music throughout the world -- Case study: Ernestina Lecuona, her collaborators and her music -- Conclusion
M.M. (Master Of Music)