(No. 19 of the Black Composers series)
Amadeo Roldán y Gardes (1900-1939) was a composer, violinist, conductor and teacher during his short life. Born in Paris to Cuban parents, he started playing violin at the age of 5, and entered the Conservatory of Madrid in Spain at the young age of 8. While at conservatory, he developed an interest in composition, and continued to study with his composition teachers even after he graduated from conservatory at the age of 16. When Roldán turned 21, he moved to Havana, Cuba, where he quickly became a pillar of Cuban arts and culture. He was the music director of the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra, founded the Havana String Quartet, and was head of the Havana Municipal Conservatory (later renamed the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory in his honor). Roldán's music often infuses contemporary European concert idioms with Afro-Cuban rhythms, and his work continues to inspire Cuban musicians and composers today.