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Leo Brouwer (b3/01/1939)

The composer, guitarist and conductor Leo Brouwer Mezquida was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1939 into a family of musicians. He had his first music lessons from his father, Juan Brouwer, and his aunt, Caridad Mezquida, while his great-uncle, Ernesto Lecuona, had been famous both as a composer and as a pianist. He had his first guitar lessons in 1953 with Isaac Nicola, who established the modern school of Cuban guitar-playing, and two years later began to study composition on his own.

In 1959 he was awarded a scholarship for further study of the guitar in America at Hartford University and of composition at the Juilliard School in New York, where his studies were with Vincent Persichetti, Stefan Wolpe, Isadore Preed, J. Diemente and Joseph Iadone. In 1960 he was appointed director of the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos, a position that, over the years, brought the composition of a large number of film scores both in Cuba and abroad. From this time onwards he was associated with the Cuban musical avant-garde, serving as adviser to Radio Habana Cuba and teaching at the Conservatorio Nacional, and, as occasion demanded, in universities abroad. He established the biennial Cuban Guitar Competition and Festival and since 1981 has been general director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba. Conducting engagements have taken him to a number of countries.



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