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Music of Granma, Cuba

  History of music in Bayamo.

 In any study about the patriotic and cultural history of Cuba, it is unavoidable to stop at the legated heritage of Bayamo, because there are uncountable musical contributions to Cuban music carried out by the people of this city in more than five hundred years of its existence.  

In the colonial period, the economic and commercial activity originated in Bayamo River, was the cause for Bayamo becoming one of the most prosperous cities, likewise it was among those  that "marked with particular encouragement the gestation, birth and development of an authentically national sound heritage . "

Before the 19th century, Bayamo lived stages of true musical splendor. Here, the most important and prolonged expressions of this art took place and they were united to the military and liturgical activities, very properly of the time; for instance processions and masses that friars such as Bartolomé de las Casas carried out, as part of the evangelization of the natives in the early XVI century, but especially from the XVII century in which Catholicism was more strongly established in that place than in any other city perhaps.

Espejo de Paciencia, narrative poetry written by Silvestre de Balboa and Troya de Quesada, in which the rescue of the Bishop Juan de las Cabezas Altamirano ( who was captured by the French pirate Gilberto Girón) starring by the Bayamo people in 1604, concludes with a motete composed by the singer and master Blas López, which is interpreted by his choir from the Mayor Parish of the city, which demonstrates the level reached by musicians of the city.

The first decades of XIX century in Bayamo were marked in the political estates due to the influence of Spanish liberalism and in the case of music by the romanticism and the preponderance piano, contradanza and Creole dance that filled the criollo classrooms.

La Bayamesa

On the night of March 27, 1851, during a serenade offered to Luz Vázquez in hes window, tenor Carlos Pérez showed for the first time La Bayamesa, a creation of Francisco Castillo and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the future Father of the Nation, who conceived that music; his lyrical text was written by José Fornaris, one of the great artificers of Siberian poetic movement. Although in its melody the influence of French romance, Italian opera and other genres of European origin is evident, that song encouraged the eagerness of the island's musical creators to join love and devotion for the homeland, like no other precedent song.

La Bayamesa (National Anthem)

During the night of August 13, 1867, at the meeting among Pedro Figueredo, Francisco Vicente Aguilera and Francisco Maceo Osorio, the last one asked Figueredo to compose a similar anthem to La Marseillaise. At that time, this French march, which would become the national anthem of that country, was, since 1848, the anthem of the revolutionary people in the world. This patriot from Bayamo accepted the assignment and in the same morning, after an intense creative process, he was ready with the lyrics and the music for piano the anthem he called La Bayamesa.

Although Figueredo's greatest creation was not the first of his production in America, it became a model or guideline to be taken into account in similar works created by Cubans, inside or outside the country; first of all, by the Bayamo people themselves, because, as the National Prize for Literature Ambrosio Fornet has pointed out, there are few cities in the world whose children have procreated the national anthems of two countries.

However, Bayamo´s contribution to the Cuban and Latin American hymnal is not limited to the anthems of Cuba and Guatemala, since in 1870 Colonel Pedro Martínez Freyre, created the lyrics of Holguín anthem and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes wrote the text of the Manzanillo March, that was incomplete until recent years when master Carlos Puig Premión composed its music. On the other hand, in XX century, men from Bayamo like Rafael Cabrera and Benjamín Muñoz Ginarte, both sons of Muñoz Cedeño, were among the most outstanding creators of hymns and marches.


During the first decades of the Republic, the trova and other musical expressions cultivated by the most humble layers of people, situaded again Bayamo close-ups . Unquestionably the most representative piece is Mujer bayamesa, composed in 1918 by Sindo Garay, during one of his frequent stays in the heroic city.

After the triumph of January 1959, many artists from Cuba opened new paths to Cuban music, among them  Pablo Milanes, who began singing on radio programs in his hometown. In the 60s, the CMKX radio station is precisely one of the first that stimulates the work of authors and performers as representative as Ulises Proenza, Saturno Bruqueta and Mundito González, a privileged voice that soon after is located among the important figures of the origins of Cuban song.

After the First Congress of PCC in 1975 and after Bayamo became the capital of Granma province, deep sociocultural transformations begin in the territory. At the beginning of the 80s, the rising Ministry of Culture undertakes laudable projects, such as the ten basic institutions in the community, as well as events such as Culture Week, Festival of Son, the Musical Creator or the Children's Song. The band returns to the avant-garde, achieving an excellent sound and coupling, as well as a varied repertoire in which creations by authors from this city, such as Salvador Alarcón and Carlos Puig stood out, two pillars of the great achievements that this format has achieved in Cuba in times of Revolution.

Currently, Granma is distinguished within the sound panorama of the Island by their groups and orchestras recognized due to their national and international projection, including the typical orchestra ´´Original of Manzanillo´´, founded on December 21, 1963, by the relevant musician from Manzanillo Wilfredo (Pachi) Naranjo, National Prize of Music 2011. It is considered as the Super Charanga of Cuba, and it is one of the groups most admired and loved by the dancing public. ´´Feverson´´, recognized today as "Los Carnavaleros de Cuba". Cándido Fabre y su Banda, a group that enjoys the preference of people because of their dancing music and lyrics. Likewise, there are other groups of greater classical , such as, Coro de Bayamo and El Conjunto de Musica Antigua Exulten, the only one of its kind in Eastern Cuba. It also highlights figures such as José Alberto "El Ruiseñor", recognized as the most popular male voice of the Palmas y Cañas program; and Osnel Odit Bavastro, the only artist from our province who has a Grammy Award.

Bayamo can feel proud of its musical and historical past, which will continue to be a source of inspiration for native and foreign creators, since there are many of them who have highlighted, with deep emotion, in their scores and songs their traditions, landscapes of great beauty and characters of the most diverse lineages, from the great patriots to the simplest aspects of their inhabitants. Among those creators stand out Ramón Cabrera, the singer of the peoples of Cuba, although the composition dedicated to his hometown, Bayamo, unfortunately was one of the least welcomed in its catalog. It did not happen in the same  way with the son montuno Viva Bayamo, the creation of Rolando Valdés, who recorded it with his orchestra Sensación, having as main voice that great sonero par excellence  Abelardo Barroso. Barbarito Diez, on the other hand, made popular the bolero Así es Bayamo, from the Holguin troubadour Guillermo Sánchez. The witty and sparkling Guayabero, who had the city as his main refuge between 1969 and 1975, exalted women in the Son Musical Gender:´´Las mujeres de Bayamo´´.