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Articles Photo: Courtesy of Belinda Romeu

Mario Romeu: a prodigy in Cuban music

Mario Romeu, glory of Cuban music, reaches its centenary this April 27. That Sunday in 1924, in Regla, a musical prodigy was born into a family with deep roots in our Cuban roots. At the age of three, he played piano four hands with his father at the National Theater. The Navy Journal, and the ExcelsiorIn July 1927, they published some notes under the title: He can neither read nor write, and he is already a virtuoso.. There you could read:

"...this child at three years of age does amazing things in the handling of the piano and demonstrates a very clear musical understanding; it is convenient to point out that this 'micro pianist' only plays Cuban airs".

Armando Romeu, father of the young prodigy, and his sister Zenaida, initiated and guided him in the study of the instrument. From his adolescence he was guided by Professor Hascha Fischermann and became his favorite pupil.

In 1937, at the age of 12, he went on a long tour with the Navy Band, conducted by his father, with which they performed in 36 cities in the United States, playing the Concerto for piano and orchestra No. 2by Beethoven and the Hungarian Fantasyby Liszt. During the trip, Mrs. Curtis, founder of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia - one of the most demanding and outstanding at the international level - awarded him an extraordinary piano scholarship. The press published: Twelve-year-old boy triumphs in the United States.

Mario Romeu was characterized by his versatility: he could play on a night Symphonic variationsThe next, works in the style of the greatest jazzmen of the time with the Cabaret Tropicana Orchestra. Performer, composer, musical director, orchestra conductor, arranger, Maestro.

Photo: Courtesy of Belinda Romeu

The emergence of television as a mass medium of communication impacted the world at the beginning of the 20th century. Born in 1950, Cuban television counted on the figure of Mario from its beginnings. From that year on he worked as a soloist and piano accompanist in several regular programs such as Fair on the Screen and Tropical Nightin addition to musical direction of the children's program The little school.

Since 1953, his exceptional talents allowed him to combine piano playing with orchestral conducting. jingles for commercial spots while acting in skits humorous. He was a regular performer in General Electric Concert on CMQ Radio and, since 1954, on CMQ Radio. Your poem and your songsThe program, from Monday to Saturday on the Cuban National Circuit, accompanied Julio Capote's declamations.

In 1959, after the foundation of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), he conducted, together with other illustrious conductors, the Grand Orchestra of the ICRT, where he carried out an extensive work as a performer and music broadcaster, covering all genres and styles, from Cuban popular music to the most select of the symphonic repertoire.

Countless Cuban and foreign artists performed under his baton. Thousands of television and radio programs, recordings in the studios of ICRT, Radio Progreso, Egrem, Icaic. Television and recording studios became his natural medium; watching him perform was not only a wonderful event, but a true privilege. He devoted himself to these media without imagining that, from that moment until the end of his life, they would be his perennial stages.

Photo: Courtesy of Belinda Romeu

During the early years of ICRT's founding, Mario composed several iconic pieces of music such as the theme song for the first animated film, The brave little fishand also the one that identified the television program That nightfall.

On November 25, 1966, the National Council of Culture offered at the Amadeo Roldan Theater a concert entitled "The National Cultural Council of the United States of America". Lecuona in memoriamMario accompanied Esther Borja on the third anniversary of the maestro's death. He also assumed the musical direction of Viva la Operettafor the Teatro Musical de la Habana.

At the end of the 80's, he reached the big screen, adding another milestone to his career, The Beauty of the Alhambradirected by Enrique Pineda Barnet. Rachel's songThe theme of sublime inspiration that has transcended its time, bears his imprint.

Photo: Courtesy of Belinda Romeu

His unconditional dedication, simplicity, human quality, his willingness to share knowledge with others, always identified him. He dedicated himself to developing and strengthening Cuban piano performance, to supporting new talents without asking for anything in return, with the sole objective of making their dreams come true.

His unmistakable style carries Cuban lineage and universal scope. His interpretative sensitivity transcended the physical or the virtuosity of genius. With a sound catalogued by excellent musicians as unique, he seemed to caress the strings of the piano, rather than pluck them. We will honor and remember him for leaving his mark on Cuban culture, for his genius, mastery and humility, which made him a being and a wonderful artist. Mario Romeu is, and will always be, music.

Niurka Lecusay More posts

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