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Juan Almeida Bosque in Cuba’s Revolutionary and Cultural Memory

Published: 2021.02.22 - 23:00:35  /  /  Ana Rosa Perdomo Sangermés

The images of Juan Almeida Bosque leaving the Model Prison, together with Fidel and Raúl Castro, with his hand raised in victory; in the Sierra Maestra fighting and in the joy of the victory of the First of January 1959 are kept with special affection in the hearts of his people.

These are just a few of the many pictures taken during his incursion into the guerrilla struggle for the longed-for freedom of his Homeland, because as an outstanding protagonist of the struggle, which he joined at the age of 26, he stood out for his example of gallantry, courage, bravery, cohesion and boundless loyalty to the Revolution and its top leaders. He always believed in victory and fought with the vehemence of those who love what they defend.

He was a combative, creative man who kept up his cry of "No one surrenders here", but with increasing strength as the revolutionary process advanced under Fidel's guidance, with the certainty that "with the Cubans there is no surrender possible", as he himself said.

As a teenager, in the humble bosom of his family, he copied love verses in a notebook until he was able to create his own with an enviable expressiveness, without yet knowing rhymes and quatrains.

His attachment to music began in his early youth, with musical compositions that hinted at his later development. Those were times when he lived in the streets of Havana the dances of the comparsas Los Mambises, Las Jardineras, Los Cabildos and Los Diablitos, a musical scene that attracted him greatly.

His contributions to Cuban songs are undeniable, preferring boleros and ballads, but he did not neglect the son and the guaracha, as an expression of good Cubans and born of memories, motivations and events that have always accompanied him. He, like his music, is present everywhere.

The melodic line of his songs is unmistakable, closely related to the traditions, the lyricism of the old song movement and the contemporary, without neglecting the flavor of Cuban son. He had, above all, a special gift for composition, accompanied by a permanent love for art in general.

Juan Almeida Bosque in the revolutionary and cultural memory of Cuba, his literary works, a source of enjoyable reading and historical facts, including La Única Ciudadana, El General en Jefe Máximo Gómez, La Sierra, the trilogy Presidio, Exilio y Desembarco, Contra el agua y el viento, among others, and his musical themes such as La Lupe, Este son homenaje, Dame un traguito - just to name a few titles - are part of his cultural work, to the pride of all Cubans. His dedication made him worthy of countless national literary awards and several record productions.

Listening to his compositions, we can see that they denote a man of special sensitivity. Although he was not an academic musician, he was the author of more than 300 musical works and a dozen books of great literary value. He is also the author of Marinero quiero ser, a musical theme that children enjoy.

The people of Santiago, in particular, do not forget that Almeida revived the mythical Chepín-Chovén orchestra, promoted the founding of the Siboney recording studios in that city, which materialized with his presence on 5 July 1980, revitalized the Sindo Garay musical instrument factory, which was born in the Sierra Maestra, and sang to the people of this heroic eastern territory.

His contacts with the people were frequent in any city or countryside of Cuba, with that simplicity of his whole life, which won sympathy everywhere and he was always admired for his unwavering revolutionary conduct, for the imprint of his actions and his example of Cuban craftsmanship and musical quality, but above all for the greatness of his humanism. People felt him close to them, and he was endearing, affectionate, charismatic, and very sensitive.

Juan Almeida Bosque in the revolutionary and cultural memory of Cuba

The Abril Publishing House in Havana treasures the publication of a book with one hundred texts and scores of the most popular musical compositions by the Commander of the Revolution Juan Almeida. The songbook, entitled Con la mano extendida (With an outstretched hand), contains the lyrics and sheet music of 100 of his songs and is a must for both aficionados of Cuban popular music and professionals.

Almeida's deep and versatile imprint combines the courage of a fighter, the example of a fair and loyal leader, and the sensitivity of a man who would have been 94 years old on 17 February.

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