Julian Orbon

The Composer's Datebook from American Public Media
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Today’s date marks the birthday anniversary of a 20th century composer who was born in Spain, came of age in Cuba, and, in his later years, was a resident of the United States.
His name was Julián Orbón, who was born in Avilés, Spain, on today’s date in 1925 and died in Miami Beach on May 20, 1991.

Orbón began composing at an early age, came to Cuba with his family when he was 10, and by his twenties was already quite active as a music critic, essayist and pianist at concerts of contemporary Cuban music. He was a member of Grupo de Renovación Musical, or “The Group for Musical Renewal.” In 1946 he studied with Copland at Tanglewood, and returned home to serve as director of the Orbón Conservatory in Havana, a music school founded by his father.

After the Cuban revolution, Orbón taught first at the National Conservatory in Mexico City, and then, after settling in the United States in 1964, at a number of American schools, including Washington University, Barnard College and the Hispanic Institute at Columbia.

Revered as a teacher, Orbón was also a successful and award-winning composer. Many of his works are infused with the rhythms and colors of Cuban music and traditions.