Galán, Natalio (1917-1985) Papers

Call Number: Latin American Library Manuscripts, Collection 76

1931-1985. Biographical information on Natalio Galan, Cuban composer and writer, together with manuscript and printed music scores and articles, tapes, and research material related to the history and development of Cuban popoular music and dance. 1,664 pieces.

For a detailed guide to the Galán Papers, see the manuscripts binder in the Latin American Library office.


Collection Overview
Prepared by Ruth Olivera, July 1986.


Natalio Galán, musician, composer, teacher and writer, gained limited but international recognition during his lifetime. He was born in Cuba, where he received his early training. Continuing his studies in music in New York in 1947, he became attracted to the theories of Arnold Schoenberg. In connection with work as translator for the United Nations, he was able to travel widely in Europe. However this work interfered with his endeavors in music, and he later supported himself by teaching piano and harpsichord. Meanwhile, he wrote music for films and composed two operas and other compositions. With the event of the Cuban revolution he returned to his native land, where for several years he flourished as composer and teacher and began a writing career as music critic for the Diario Revolución .

Ultimately disillusioned, he left Cuba in 1964, first for Paris, then the United States. The years from 1968 until 1973 he spent as teacher, writer and composer in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before finally making his home in New Orleans, Louisiana. There, despite poor health, he immersed himself in writing and composing. His dedicated research made him a familiar figure in the Latin American Library of Tulane University and resulted in the publication of two books on Cuban music -- Una historia inusitada (1974) and Cuba y sus sones (1983) -- as well as numerous articles. At the same time he continued to add to his number of musical compositions. His lasting contribution may rest more on his music criticism and writing on the history of Cuban music than on his compositions, but it is too early for such a judgement.

The papers contained in this collection are divided into three main categories: biographical material, works, and research material. It should be pointed out that a considerable amount of his production as composer and writer remained in Cuba and is considered lost. Additional items such as newspaper clippings, concert programs, printed works and photographs are added to the Galán collection as they are acquired.

Arrangement of Collection

I. Biographical Material

  • (Boxes 1-2) Papers relating to Galán's life and works
  • Box 1, Folders 1-13 Correspondence
  • Box 1, Folders 14-21 Photographs
  • Box 2, Folder 1 Interviews
  • Box 2, Folders 2-4 Clippings about Galán
  • Box 2, Folders 5-7 References to Galán
  • Box 2, Folders 8-10 Programs of his work
  • Box 2, Folders 11-15

II. Works

  • (Boxes 3-8) Manuscript articles
  • Box 3, Folders 1-21 Published writings
  • Box 4, Folders 1-9; 8 pieces Music scores
  • Boxes 5-8 Tapes
  • Box 9

III. Research Material

  • Boxes 10-14
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