Cuban electroacoustic music composer Juan Marcos Blanco (1919-2008) started composing electroacoustic music in the 1960s and championned the genre on the island as an activist, teacher, concert organizer and promoter.
A successful lawyer as well as a clandestine avantgarde music promoter under the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship (1952-1959), Blanco became an official composer under the Castro Brothers’ rule (1959-present), who, for some reason, did not ban avantgarde music. Blanco played his electroacoustic compositions during unofficial performances as early as 1964 (see Neil Leonard). From 1970, Blanco worked as music director for the propaganda’s music section at Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP), with Leo Brouwer as director. Blanco was later appointed director of the ICAP’s Estudio Electroacústico in 1979. See the UNESCO website for a comprehensive list of Blanco’s music compositions.
♫ This untitled LP was Blanco’s first release, published in 1979 (I infer this from the fact track #3 was composed 1979 and from the reference of another EGREM LP, published in 1980, LD 3896 – this one is LD 3809). Anyway, the disc pairs a symphonic composition with 3 electroacoustic pieces, best described as tape music. Track #3, Desde Su Voz Amada, is apparently an excerpt from the legendary 30-min piece Blanco wrote in 1970 for the celebration of Lenin’s centennial anniversary in Cuba. The piece is based on the heavily processed voice of Lenin addressing the Red Army. The music starts with unrecognizable, reverb-drenched layers of Lenin’s voice and is anything if not terrifying. When the disembodied voice of Lenin finally appears au naturel, the effect is transfixing. I was reminded of some passages from Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Requiem for a Young Poet, 1969, with a similar use of archive sounds. Track #1, Música Para Un Joven Mártir, for symphonic orchestra and singer, bears some influence from the Stravinski of Renard and Histoire du Soldat, but it also incorporates Cuban elements like Spanish guitar and vocal improvisation (I assume in the Nueva Trova style). Track # 2 and 4 are musique concrète pieces based on piano and inside the piano sounds, reconfigured into abstract sound sculptures thanks to montage, collage and sound treatment. These tracks are described in the liner notes as Música electrónica but are actually closer to musique concrète, with no electronic sounds involved.
- Música Para Un Joven Mártir (11:30)
Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional
Manuel Duchesne Cuzán, cond.
Jesús del Valle, voice
- Galaxia M-50 (8:12)
Fárida Hernández, voice
- Desde Su Voz Amada, homenaje a Lenin (7:42)
- Estructuras (11:39)
Total time 39:01
LP released by EGREM, LD 3809, La Habana, Cuba, 1979
Juan Blanco’s EGREM discography:
LD 3809 = self titled debut LP, 1979
LD 4211 = Música Electroacústica LP, 1984?
LD xxxx = Caballos – Música Electroacustica LP, 1984
LD 4442 = Suite Erotica/Suite De Los Niños LP, 1987
LD xxxx = Música por Computadores, [year?]
LD xxxx = w/ Edesio Alejandro Tecnotrònicas, [year?]