Juan Blanco – s/t debut LP

Juan Blanco s/t debut LP front cover
Juan Blanco s/t debut LP back cover
Juan Blanco s/t debut LP cara A

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.

Juan Marcos Blanco (1919-2008)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.

  1. Música Para Un Joven Mártir (11:30)
    Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional
    Manuel Duchesne Cuzán, cond.
    Jesús del Valle, voice
  2. Galaxia M-50 (8:12)
    Música electrónica
    Fárida Hernández, voice
  3. Desde Su Voz Amada, homenaje a Lenin (7:42)
    Música electrónica
  4. Estructuras (11:39)
    Música electrónica

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?]

* *

18 Responses to “Juan Blanco – s/t debut LP”

  1. 1 Joaquín Mendoza Sebastián February 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    ‘Música Para Un Joven Mártir’ is a beautiful piece of music and it somehow has the same poetic(epic maybe) quality of Pudovkin or Eisenstein first films(think of Mother or Potemkin/Strike) almost with the same “political” aim.

    The relationship of that kind of regimes with the avantgarde is a complex topic…Lenin for instance approved it(in music..painting..theater), perhaps because almost all the artist from russia at the time were leftists, we can only guess what Shostakovich could have done in that conditions…

    Keep the cuban lps coming my friend! I played the last post record to one of my students, who absolutely loves Brouwer and he almost died of awe. thank you!


  2. 2 g February 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    thanks for this great cuban music. looking forward to hearing more of it….

  3. 3 continuo February 4, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    @ Joaquín: Thanks for your comment. Your students are fortunate to have a teacher like you.
    Regarding dictators and music: Stalin himself was not too fond of avantgarde music, as Shostakovich learned at an early stage. In any case, the composers’ relationship to autocrats is more complex (and painful) than the latter’s simplistic artistic vision.
    @g: glad you liked it. More is scheduled for future posts. Thanks for your comment.

  4. 4 Joaquín Mendoza Sebastián February 5, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Yes, Stalin disliked the avantgarde..many great artists ended their lives in the gulag..

    Have you seen the work of Sergei Paradjanov? he was a great avantgarde filmmaker, and was imprisoned for 4 years in labor camps…if you don’t know his work, you can watch ‘Sayat Nova’ and ‘Shadows of our forgotten ancestors’…in the case of ‘Sayat Nova’ the music and the sound are marvelous..


  5. 5 continuo February 5, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I will check these films.

  6. 6 sf1984CG February 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

    many thanks!
    do you have “Ahora” by “Ivan Pequeno”?

  7. 7 continuo February 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

    No, I don’t. But we are talking of a Chilean composer there, right? If you can send along sound files (320kpbs), I’d share them with the readers here.

  8. 8 sf1984CG February 5, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I don’t have that record! I just made a little request :)

  9. 9 ethnoscelsi February 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Thank you so much for the Juan Blanco LP! I’d been searching for a few years to hear more of his music.

    A composer wrongly overlooked by the international community, especially the disgracefully insular university composition departments in the United States.

  10. 10 continuo February 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Well, I can’t say about US music departments, but Juan Blanco’s world specialist is US musicologist Neil Leonard.
    Blanco is not totally unknown to the general public either. He played at Expo ’67 in Montréal and Expo’ 70 in Osaka ; he attended the electroacoustic festivals in Bourges and Paris, France, in 1984. It is true his music need to be made available abroad today, to which I hope to contribute.
    Thanks for your comment.

  11. 11 Joaquín Mendoza Sebastián February 6, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Hi continuo! I failed to find any contact form on your site(well I didn’t look very carefully ’cause I’m in a sunday morning’s hurry)

    Reading the response you gave to sf1984CG’s comment above, I wanted to ask you(a little embarrased i must confess)..if I send you my music, would you share it with your readers here on your blog?

    thank you very much!


  12. 12 continuo February 6, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Hi, Joaquín. I don’t review nor offer new releases here. People who visit this blog are looking for rare record releases from the past. You should get in touch with netlabels able to carry your work to potential downloaders. Also, have you tried SoundCloud? Brazilian reader Sergio offers his latest music compositions there.

  13. 13 Joaquín Mendoza Sebastián February 7, 2011 at 2:32 am

    I didn’t knew of SoundCloud, I will check it! thanks anyway.

    The link to Sergio’s music is not working, I’ll check his music later.


  14. 14 gb February 9, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    you’ll find an amazing archival work of south america’s electroacoustic works (curated by Ricardo Dal Farra),including several by Juan Blanco, here:
    This was part of a media arts preservation project.

  15. 15 continuo February 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Thanks for this link, gb. The site is a treasure trove of sounds and info on South American avantgarde.

  16. 16 ethnoscelsi February 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Yes, thank you GB for sharing that link to such a wonderful website.

    And thanks again Continuo, for starting this Blanco and Latin American music dialogue.

  17. 17 Chris July 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Hello –

    I’ve got high quality MP3s of Caballos (LD-4247 and Musica Electroacusitica (LD-4211) if interested. I appreciate you posting this LP, I highly enjoyed it! Do you have any other Blanco recordings? Thank you.

  18. 18 continuo July 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Hi, Chris. I just posted Música Electroacústica, but I would love to post Caballos if you’d dare send it my way.

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