The Black Decameron : Work information

Leo Brouwer ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Ricardo Cobo (Guitar)

This work

Work name
The Black Decameron
Work number
1981-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Recording date

Track listing

  • The Harp of the Warrior 3:52 min
  • The Flight of the Lovers through the Valley of the Echoes 5:03 min
  • Ballad of the Maiden in Love 5:38 min


El Decamerón Negro (The Black Decameron) is a collection of tales gathered from the great tribes of Africa by the German anthropologist, Leo Frobenius (1873-1938). Inspired by the tales, Cuban guitarist and composer Leo Brouwer wrote this evocative and passionate work of the same name in 1981 for the American guitarist, Sharon Isbin.

Exploring Cuban-Afro folk traditions, El Decamerón Negro has become one of Brouwer's most popular works. The hypnotic, almost minimalistic qualities of The Flight of the Lovers and the gentle rocking of Ballad of the Maiden in Love are particularly attractive.

The Composers

Leo Brouwer

Juan Leovigildo Brouwer Mezquida is a Cuban composer, guitarist and conductor.

Brouwer was born in Havana, and went to the United States to study music at the University of Hartford and later at the Juilliard School, where he was taught composition by Stefan Wolpe. Brouwer's early works show the influence of Cuban folk music, but during the 1960s and 70s, he became interested in the music of modernist composers such as Luigi Nono and Iannis Xenakis, using indeterminacy in works such as Sonograma I. Other works from this period include the guitar pieces Canticum (1968), La espiral eterna (1971), Parábola (1973) and Tarantos (1974). More recently, Brouwer's works have started leaning towards tonality and modality. The solo guitar works El Decamerón Negro (1981) the Sonata (1990; for Julian Bream) and Paisaje cubano con campanas (1996) exemplify this tendency.

Brouwer has held a number of official posts in Cuba, including the directorship of the Cinema Institute of Cuba's music department. Among his works are a large number of solo guitar pieces, several guitar concertos and over forty film scores. Leo Brouwer is involved in the "Concurso y Festival Internacional de Guitarra de la Habana" (International Guitar Festival of the Havana).