“The music of Debussy is like a long caress that has no end. His exquisite harmony draws us towards the most delicate of human expressions, love.”
Mr. Rubinos was born in Havana, Cuba in 1934. Among many other professions in his life he was a distinguished and well-liked professor of philosophy and chemistry at the University of Havana, a clerk at seven eleven, an accountant, a social worker, an activist for the rights of Hispanics and the elderly community in Hartford, CT. Mr. Rubinos now resides in sunny Hallandale Beach, Florida and has an impressive collection of music, films, and books. He has a radiant smile, is an absolute ladies man, loves to dance, and is an ardent classical music aficionado which is the subject of my interview with him.
Monday September 6, 2010
Listening to: Vienna Master Series, Claude Debussy: Klavierweke, Piano Works, Oeuvres d’orgue (1888-1910) Peter Schmalfuss, Klavier/Piano
How would you characterize the music of Debussy?
He is a composer that leans on no one. He has his unique form of expression. For example, his “Clair de Lune” has no similarity to that of Beethoven’s, they are quite distinguishable. It’s nothing that makes you think of the music of any other composer.
Why do you like classical music?
It is the music that allows me to evoke a multitude of sweet feelings.
Who is your favorite composer?
Well I have many but among them, Prokofiev. His Concerto No. 3 for piano is very beautiful.
When did you first hear classical music?
When I was seven years old and I liked it immediately! I felt I had discovered a world of what were totally new sensations for me. One day switching the radio dial I found the station CMBF which was dedicated to playing only classical music from 7:00am to midnight. I always tried to listen, but my father didn’t like it, he would say it was music for dead people, “Who has died for us to hear this music for dead people?”. I could never listen to it when he was home.
What’s your favorite instrument?
The piano because I feel it has the most complete range of sounds. I don’t know, I feel I identify most with the piano, although in general I love all instruments.
Name one live performance you’ve seen which particularly impressed you.
Léo Delibes’ “Lakmé”. The soprano made these incredible leaps through various vocal registers!
Operas I like… Verdi’s “Aida” and “Le Boheme”, Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Turandot”, Rimsky Korsakov’s “El Gallo de Oro”, “El Prinicipe Igor” by Russian composer Alexandr Borodin (I saw it at the Met). That opera has many beautiful parts like the Polovetsian Dances.
Favorite Zarzuela… “La Verbena de la Paloma” by Tomas Breton.
What is a zarzuela?
It is like an opera but in a different dimension.
One source we found defines a zarzuela as, “a form of musical theater or theatrical genre of music which originated in Spain with instrumental, vocal, and spoken passages.“
Favorite musical comedy… “Porgy and Bess” by Gershwin
Favorite North American composers… Other than Gershwin, I like Samuel Barber, his Piano Concerto, Concerto No. 1 for violin, his overture “School for Scandal”, and his famous “Adagio”. Barber also has beautiful symphonies.
What suggestion would you give someone who is interested in exploring classical music for the first time?
Each person has a different sensibility, so they should explore. What is exquisite for one person, for another is not. I do not recommend any piece in particular. The sensibility of each person is undoubtedly unique. For example, I love John Sebastian Bach, for me he is exquisite, but there are other people who don’t find anything in his music. Some think his music is out of style.
What would you say to someone who thinks that classical music is out of style and irrelevant?
They don’t know what music really is. Classical music is forever because its sounds are capable of transporting us to the most sublime of human emotions.
Would you like to share anything else?
An experience I had with a girlfriend. When I played her classical music she said, “I can’t stand that ‘tiki tiki’! I left the other boyfriend I had because I couldn’t stand that music!” My response was, “ Well we will have to leave each other right now because I am not going to stop listening to my music. But I think it would be good for you to open up to this world of human emotions of an exquisite sensibility”. If someone likes a type of music, their ears and mind can evolve to open up to this gift of an incomparable world capable of motivating without exhausting you.
And what happened with the girlfriend?
We left each other a few years later but now she is a classical music fanatic. I brought her from popular to classical music. If she liked pop music the only thing she had to do was develop her ear towards classical music. If she hadn’t liked any type of music at all, that would have been a different story.