Acclaimed composer, sought-after conductor, esteemed educator, tireless advocate for the arts--Tania León’s achievements encompass but also stretch far beyond contemporary classical music. Alejandro L. Madrid draws on oral history, archival work, and ethnography to offer the first in-depth biography of the artist. Breaking from a chronological account, Madrid looks at León through the issues that have informed and defined moments in her life and her professional works. León’s words become a starting ground--but also a counterpoint--to the accounts of the people in her orbit. What emerges is more than an extraordinary portrait of an artist's journey. It is a story of how a human being reacts to the challenges thrown at her by history itself, be it the Cuban revolution or the struggle for civil and individual rights.
Nuanced and multifaceted, Tania León's Stride looks at the life, legacy, and milieu that created and sustained one of the most important figures in American classical music.
List of Figures ix
List of Music Examples xi
Notes on a Biographical Counterpoint 1
Chapter 1 Tonic: The House on Salud Street 11
Chapter 2 Modulation and Displacement: cubana de adentro . . . cubana de afuera 33
Chapter 3 Syncopation and Color: Adapting to New Life Rhythms 59
Chapter 4 Direction: Leading in Music, Leading in Life 93
Chapter 5 Voice: Style and Idea in the Music of Tania León 126
Chapter 6 Canon: Representation, Identity, and Legacy 166
Epilogue Tania León’s Stride: An Echo that Reaches Our Ears 181
Appendix A List of Works 185
Appendix B Tania León’s Life 193
Alejandro L. Madrid is a professor of musicology at Cornell University. He is the author of the award winning In Search of Julián Carrillo and Sonido 13 and coauthor of Danzón: Circum-Caribbean Dialogues in Music and Dance.
"This books is well conceived, well written, and a great companion text to Robin Moore's books on Cuban music. . . . A major contribution to the scholarship of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Latin women composers and musicians, but also transcends these categories by showing how a woman of color navigated exile and migration to make a new life while maintaining her identity and growing personally and artistically." --New West Indian Guide
Winner of the Bronze Medal in the category of Best Biography in English at the 2022 International Latin Book Awards
"The story Madrid tells is not only coherent, but also captivating, opening new avenues of scholarly inquiry about Léon's life, work, and the worlds she has inhabited. I look forward to seeing those kernels sprout in different and unexpected directions and develop into still more fascinating narratives." --Journal for the International Alliance of Women in Music
"Madrid's biographical counterpoint masterfully portrays the polyrhythmic life of Tania León. His use of photos and personal interviews vividly tells León's life story. The prevalence of this intimacy adds flavor -- a taste of memoir -- inviting readers to devour the book like linear notes. The juxtaposition of firsthand accounts with historical context and political drama creates a page turner -- a biography containing strides that many outside of music will find illuminating." --Notes
"Highly recommended." --Choice
"There is incredible beauty and power in the way this book attends to aesthetics and artists with rigor and care. What sets it apart are Madrid's stunning interviews conducted over several years with León and her family, peers, and students. An essential document about an extraordinary artist."--Alexandra T. Vazquez, author of Listening in Detail: Performances of Cuban Music