Gershwin’s Cuban Overture combines exciting Cuban rhythms with his own thematic material. The result is a symphonic overture that embodies the essence of Cuban dance.
Originally entitled Rumba, the Cuban Overture was written some time following a two-week holiday which Gershwin took in Havana in February 1932. The overture is dominated by Caribbean rhythms and Cuban native percussion, with a wide spectrum of instrumental colour and technique. It is a rich and exciting work with complexity and sophistication, illustrating the influence of Cuban music and dance. Although it received it’s premiere under the title Rumba, it was renamed Cuban Overture three months later at a benefit concert conducted by Gershwin at the Metropolitan Opera to avoid giving audience the idea that it was simply a novelty item. The new title provided, as the composer stated, “a more just idea of the character and intent of the music”.