Cuban Overture

The symphonic poem “CUBAN OVERTURE” was a result of a two-week holiday that Gershwin took in Havana, Cuba in February 1932 and was composed in the summer of the same year. The poem was originally titled “RUMBA”. The overture is dominated by Caribbean rhythms and Cuban native percussion, with a wide spectrum of instrumental color and technique, the main theme being influenced by the then current hit of Ignacio Pineiro. “Échale Salsita”. Other songs referenced by the piece’s themes and phrases include the traditional folk song  “La Paloma“. The work received its première at New York’s Lewisohn Stadium on 16 August 1932, as part of an all-Gershwin programme held by New York Philharmonic. The concert was a huge success in front of about 18,000 audiences and about 5,000 people left outside the stadium. Three months later, at a benefit concert at the Metropolitan Opera under the direction of the author, the work was renamed the Cuban Overture, a title which, according to Gershwin, gives “a more just idea of the nature and intent of the music”.

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