El Cimarrón

Recital for four musicians
El Cimarrón

Biography of the runaway slave Estéban Montejo
Text from the book by Miguel Barnet, translated and adapted for music by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
(English by Christopher Keene)

Part I
I The world
II The Cimarrón
IV Escape
V The forest
VI Ghosts
VII The false freedom

Part II
VIII Women
IX The machines
X The priests
XI The rebellion
XII The battle of Mal Tiempo
XIII The bad victory
XIV Friendliness
XV The machete

Period of composition 1969-70
Duration 76 minutes

World premiere

World premiere 22. june 1970

Aldeburgh Festival

Baritone William Pearson
Flute Karlheinz Zöller
Guitar Leo Brouwer
Percussion Stomu Yamash’ta


The making of “El Cimarrón” began in about 1986, with a conversation I had with Hans Magnus Enzensberger about the difficulties of writing political songs today that would go beyond the achievements of Eisler, Weill and Dessau in this field. It seemed to me that I might try to tackle the problem by writing a cycle with a variety of musical materials out of which perhaps something novel might emerge in a new and different context, almost by chance. Enzensberger told me of the recent publication of a biography by Estéban Montejo, an old Afrocuban who lived in Havana and who recalled his adolescence as a slave, and suggested that I should set episodes from this book that he, Enzensberger, would select for my experimentaion.

“El Cimarrón”, however, did not turn into a cycle of songs and was, indeed, not even intended as such - what came out of the work is a new form of theatrical music making.

Singer, flautist and guitarist are occasionally required to play percussion instruments. see also “Memorias de El Cimarrón” for one or two guitars

Hans Werner Henze



Flauto contralto
Flauto basso
Ryuteki(o Ottavino)
Armonica a bocca
Fischietto a pallina
Batterista3 Cimbali antichi
3 Piatti sospesi
2 Tamtam
13 Tomtom (chromatici)
3 Bongos
Tamburo piccolo
8 Boo-bam
4 Log-drums
Trinidad steel drum
Grancassa (con pedale della Grancassa)
Catena su legno
Catena su ferro
3 Dobaçi
Bambù sospeso
Bacchette a vetro sospese
Shell chimes
Fischio da richiamo di caccia
3 Campanacci
2 Lastre dal tuono