Siboney — Español-English

Ernesto Lecuona (1896-1963) published his classic Cuban song Siboney in 1929. It has been sung and played by many many performers since, in a multitude of styles.

Ernesto Lecuona was a contemporary of George Gershwin (1898-1937), and both played similar roles in the development of the music of their respective countries, Cuba and the United States. They were each classical musicians, piano virtuosos and brilliant composers, who brought Afro-American strains of folk music characteristic of their countries — son cubano and jazz, respectively — into musical theater works (zarzuelas and musicals, some considered as operas today), piano concertos, works for solo piano, and many songs.

Siboney is a song that has said “Cuba” to the ears and hearts of listeners around the world since 1929, in the same way that George Gershwin’s Summertime has infused listeners with a sense of Mark Twain’s America since 1935. These aren’t national anthems, they’re better, they are the songs of the soul.

Siboney (1929)
(música y letras de Ernesto Lecuona)

yo te quiero,
yo me muero
por tu amor.
en tu boca
la miel puso
su dulzor.

Ven a mí,
que te quiero,
y que todo tesoro
eres tú para mí.

al arrullo
de la palma
pienso en tí.

de mi sueños,
¿si no oyes la queja de mi voz?

si no vienes,
me moriré de amor.

de mi sueños,
te espero con ansia en mi caney,

Porque tú
eres el dueño
de mi amor, Siboney.

Oye el eco
de mi canto
de cristal,
no se pierda
por entre el rudo


(a poetic translation of Ernesto Lecuona’s lyrics)

how I want you,
I would die to
have your love.
honey’s sweetness
from your lips wings
like a dove.

Come to me,
I who love you,
my treasure, and want you
as close to me as can be.

breezes whisper,
as palms murmur
thoughts of you.

my dreams call out,
can’t you hear my voice for you all about?

if you don’t come
I’ll die with your love away.

with tides dreaming
in my hut awaiting you anxiously.

You alone
are that person
who owns all my love, Siboney.

Hear the echo
of my song so
crystal clear.
Don’t lose your way
in the shadows of
swamp night fear.


Eduardo Brito (1931)

[The recording that made Siboney a hit, sung by an excellent baritone; a superb rendition: full, flowing, tuneful, without distracting affectations or showiness. Classic.]

Lecuona plays Siboney (1954)
[Ernesto Lecuona plays Siboney on the piano. Perfection.]

Plácido Domingo (1984)

[The Caruso of our time gives us the ultimate Siboney.]

Alfredo Kraus (1982)
[Alfredo Kraus was a lyric tenor with a sparkling and powerful voice. This recording has nice sound and is accompanied by a slideshow of scenes of the Canary Islands — one can imagine Cuba from them — and historical notes on both Lecuona and Kraus, who each had roots in the Canary Islands.]

Xiomara Alfaro (1950s)
[An Afro-Cuban coloratura sings Siboney in this video from a TV broadcast.]

Los Sabandeños (2012)
[A big chorus! A slideshow of photos of the beach called Siboney, in the province of Santiago de Cuba in southeastern Cuba, accompanies the music; there are also historical notes.]

Concha Buika (2013)

[A black Afro-Cuban propulsive jazz rendition with a smokey/raspy?-voiced singer.]

Aurelio Gabaldón (2007)
[A video of Siboney performed at this tenor’s recital (in Spain?). He did a nice job.]


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