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Eclecticism in modern Cuban music as reflected in selected piano works by Harold Gramatges: An investigative analysis

Milvia Rodriguez, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This document focuses on the analysis of selected piano works of Cuban composer Harold Gramatges that reflect influences of various aesthetic movements from neo-classicism to avant-garde and neo-nationalism. The study includes an examination of the composer's life and creative activity offering a historical perspective on the development of piano music in Cuba. The pieces examined are Three Preludes in the form of a Toccata (1952-53), Móvil I (1969) and Seis Danzas Antiguas (1986). Through discussion of various musical aspects in each of these pieces, it will be established that each of these works represents a specific aesthetic idea, while reflecting a personal approach to influences of both Cuban and international character. ^ "Three Preludes in the form of a Toccata" is a work of quasi-sonata structure that could be considered the most accomplished neo-classical work in Cuban piano music. The outer movements are both fast moving atonal pieces written in a toccata style, that incorporate elements from popular Cuban genres such as son and guajira. The second prelude is a slow movement that also employs the rhythmic and melodic nuances of the son. ^ "Móvil I" is Harold Gramatges's pianistic journey into the avant-garde movement. The piece reflects experimental ideas concerning space and sound, as the composer expands the role of the performer by combining improvisation and written-out motivic elements that expand and develop throughout the piece. ^ "Seis Danzas Antiguas" represents the composer's attempt to recreate the stylized piano Cuban dance of the nineteenth century. While retaining the overall structural, stylistic and basic tonal characteristics of the traditional dance, Harold Gramatges adds complexity to its thematic and formal structure by distorting the symmetry of phrasing and employing intricate motivic elaborations in a modern harmonic language. ^ The document also includes the author's interview with Harold Gramatges conducted in the Summer of 2005 and the author's partial translation of the introductory essay to the facsimile edition of Móviles by Leonardo Acosta. ^

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Recommended Citation

Rodriguez, Milvia, "Eclecticism in modern Cuban music as reflected in selected piano works by Harold Gramatges: An investigative analysis" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3215148.