Alejo Carpentier Valmont by Ida Kar © Photo Courtesy National Portrait Gallery London.  Poster designed by Zuzana Pinčíková / Final edition Danievsky Acosta

The UK Celebration for the 60th anniversary of Alejo Carpentier’s novella El Acoso (The Chase, 1956).

El Acaso (The Chase,1956) is the best well known of Carpentier’s novellas (a novella is a work of written, fictional, narrative prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel). El Acoso was a favourite of Jean-Paul Sartre, the one that Luis Buñuel wanted for a film adaptation. The Chase is also favourite novella of mine because it makes me think about the concept of the ‘Other’ in literature . El Acoso is perhaps the oddest and most difficult to classify within Carpentier’s major fictional works, if we are thinking of them as part of what we know as ‘lo real maravilloso’. There is nothing about miracles or magical realism. In El Acaso, the absence of ‘lo real maravilloso’ is evident . The Hero in this literary story by Carpentier is the Anti-Hero.Certainly, you can trace the “personality” of Carpentier’ literary character back to Dostoevsky. El Acoso is also a synthesis of Dostoevsky’s fictional characters from his major literary works. El Acoso is the novella that made Alejo Carpentier, a writer of existentialism.

Free admission- booking required

Thursday 5 May 2016 – 6pm
@ Bloomsbury Theatre Studio
15 Gordon St, London WC1H 0AH

Seating is very limited, please register via the link below ASAP!

                              “Alejo Carpentier transformed the Latin American novel” Carlos Fuentes

Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980), a Cuban novelist, essayist, and musicologist was perhaps Cuba’s most important intellectual figure of the twentieth century. Alejo was a pure novelist, a classically trained pianist and musicologist, a producer of avant-garde radio programming, and an influential theorist of politics and literature. Best known for his novels, often cited as a progenitor of magical realism, but in order to define his works Carpentier preferred his own concept: “lo real maravilloso”. Please see: El Acoso: Fyodor Dostoevsky in Alejo Carpentier / La obra literaria de Carpentier es tan ecléctica como la arquitectura de la ciudad de la Habana. Carpentier escribió este texto EL ACOSO como si fuera una composición musical, como si fuera una Sinfonía. Lo que debemos escuchar (leer), lo que importa es la originalidad del concepto. Es la novela que acerca a Carpentier a la estética literaria del existencialismo, a lo metafísico y en particular a la forma -caótica del individuo- al estilo único de Dostoevsky / Lo primero que salta a la vista en esta novela es la ausencia de lo real maravilloso. Nada hay aquí de prodigios. El acoso es la novela de Carpentier más complicada desde el punto de vista de la técnica literaria, con sus monólogos interiores, sus frecuentes y repentinos cambios de puntos de vista, y esa inmensa estructura musical. (Carpentier y el Existencialismo, Carpentier como escritor existencialista)


El Acoso (The Chase, 1956) is one of the best well known of Carpentier’s literary works. This novella is perhaps the oddest and most difficult to classify within Carpentier’s major fictional works, if we are thinking of them as part of what we know as lo real maravilloso. Explosion in A Cathedral, The Lost Steps and The Kingdom of This World may be better known. El Acoso has Carpentier’s very-unique blend of psychology, philosophy and an unrelenting view of the bleakest recesses of the Caribbean soul. El Acoso is a novella, which describes the last few hours in the life of an unnamed young man who is on the run in Havana during the violent tyranny of Gerardo Machado. 

After 60 years of being published, this novella still one of his best. Carpentier breaks what might in outline be a simple tale into multiple facets, moving backwards and forwards in time and switching points of view. All the action takes place within the forty-six minutes it takes to perform Beethoven’s third symphony: Eroica. It remains among the greatest of all symphonies, pushing back boundaries not only of scale but also of ambition and expression. It was also the inspiration for Alejo Carpentier’ s novella El Acoso (The Chase, 1956).

Erich Kleiber

According to Carpentier: «… Kleiber era el director completo, a quien nada, en el mundo de la música, era ajeno. Cuando le tocaba estrenar la partitura de un compositor joven de nuestras tierras, estudiaba su obra con tanto amor, con tanto rigor, como si se tratara de una nueva creación de Stravinsky o de una olvidada sinfonía de la Escuela de Manheim […].»

The Cuban writer also said:

«Cuando Erich Kleiber fue nombrado director de la orquesta Filarmónica de La Habana, transformó ese conjunto sinfónico en un instrumento colectivo de una magnífica precisión […].»

For the first part of the evening, inspired by Carpentier’s The Chase, using music excerpts from Beethoven’s Third symphony: Eroica, we have Yat-Sen Chang, a well-known ballet dancer, performing a premiere of his self-choreographed solo,  El Acoso. 


Remembering Octavio Cortázar                                   octavio-cortazar.jpg

Octavio Cortázar Jiménez (19 January 1935 – 27 February 2008) was a Cuban film director and screenwriter. He had been involved with the ICAIC since 1959. He began work as a co-ordinator of the Enciclopedia Popular, a special department created in order to support the Literacy Campaign. He directed twelve films between 1961 and 2005. Cortázar was an assistant director on Vladimir Ĉech’s film ¿Para quién baila la Habana? (For whom does Havana dance? (1963). The following year, Cortázar travelled to Czechoslovakia to study film direction at the Prague film school FAMU. In 1967, he returned to Cuba and became a director of feature films for the ICAIC.

Cortázar’s Por primera vez (For the First Time) is considered a classic of film art documentary. He is better known in this film style, with works such as Acerca de un personaje que unos llaman San Lázaro y otros llaman Babalú (About a Personage Whom Some Call Saint Lazarus and Some Call Babalú, 1969) among many others. Cortázar’s first feature film, El brigadista — literally meaning the brigade member — is inspired by an historical event: La Campaña Nacional of Alfabetización, which included the assassination of two of the teachers involved in the campaign, teenagers Conrado Benitez and Manuel Ascunce Domenech, as well as the peasant Pedro Lantigua. The film squeezes down the double murder of the teachers into one, telling the story of a young volunteer named Mario. His 1977 film El Brigadista was entered into the 28th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear for an outstanding artistic contribution. His 1981 film Guardafronteras was entered into the 12th Moscow International Film Festival.

As part of our Carpentier’s celebration, we are screening Derecho de asilo (Right of Asylum, 1994, in Spanish without subtitles) by Octavio Cortázar, a film adaptation of Carpentier’s literary work of the same title.

2005 Con la memoria en el futuro (Documentary)
2004 La pequeña Aché (Documentary short)
1997 ¿OVNIS en Cuba? (Video documentary)
1993 Derecho de asilo
1992 La ultima rumba de papa Montero (Documentary)
1986 En Guayabero, mamá… (Me quieren dar) (Documentary short)
1981 Guardafronteras
1977 El brigadista (The Literacy Teacher)
1972 Hablando del punto cubano (Documentary short)
1969 For the First Time (Documentary short)
1968 Acerca de un personaje que unos llaman San Lázaro y otros llaman Babalú (Documentary short)
1961 Casablanca (Documentary)

For the second part of the evening, The Eralys Fernandez Music Company will perform The Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano by César Franck.

Eralys Fernandez – Pianist

Born in Guanabacoa in the suburbs of Havana, Eralys Fernández’s musical training started at the age of 7 when she entered the Guillermo Tomas Music Conservatoire. After seven years, Fernández gained a place at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatoire and studied with Olga Valiente, a graduate of the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow. At the age of 18, Fernández went to the Cuban Higher Institute of Arts for four further years of study. She was extremely happy to win a number of performance prizes in her final year, including best performance of Cuban music.

During her period at University, Eralys Fernández also had her first jobs. She worked as a repetiteur for singers, in a Zarzuela theatre company and gained a lot of musical experience about opera and different musical genres. It was a fast paced environment requiring excellent sight-reading skills. ERALYS FERNANDEZ was also a member of an A capella singing group and was very lucky to travel to New York, Paris and Monaco (performing for the House of Grimaldi).

After her graduation Eralys Fernández worked as a soloist, chamber musician, musical director of a singing company and pianist in a Flamenco company. Fernández performed a number of times as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra and performed on Radio and TV. She entered competitions during this period, and her biggest prize was winning the Cuban National Union of Writers Award for the best interpretation of Cuban music.

It has always been a dream of mine to do a Masters. Eralys Fernández gained two scholarships in Calgary and Alberta in Canada but decided to come to London to the Royal College of Music where Fernández studied for a Master in Advanced Piano (piano and harpsichord) under Nigel Clayton. She followed this course with a further year of study in harpsichord at Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Nicholas Parle. Eralys Fernández has a real passion for baroque music and this year changed her vision of baroque performance and also improved her articulation and expressiveness in piano.

In London, Eralys Fernández has performed as a soloist and had various musical collaborations. has been interviewed and performed live on the BBC World Service and Radio 3. She has a duo with the exceptionally gifted and charismatic Brazilian cellist Diego Carneiro and together we has performed a number of times in London, Brazil and Havana. Fernández is developing a project with the singer Maya Sapone and puppeteer Alex Winfield, having completed the music for a children’s puppet opera (the script based on a fairy tale by Grimm). The music has influences of Puccini, Verdi, jazz modern harmonies, and boogie woogie. The opera has three puppets and will has fun and melodies for children and also of interest to adults with a mixture of virtuoso piano and the theme of destructiveness of greed. It is going to be performed at the Tete a Tete Opera festival.

Eralys Fernández has also formed an ensemble group with the Maya Sapone and saxophonist Martino Scovachricchi. ERALYS FERNANDEZ spent five months arranging the music and rehearsing with Maya and Martino for our first concert of Tango music at the Bolivar Hall in 2013. The concert was well received and something we hope to develop more in the future.

Fernández has released 2 CDs, “An Afternoon in Havana” (a varied selection of Cuban music). She followed this up with “Alta García” ( a selection of Cuban and Argentinian music featuring music by Lecuona, Piazolla and Guastavino). Eralys Fernández has also completed a piano book for children and adults called Light and Jazzy. It features 15 pieces for beginner to intermediate grades.

Piano teaching is a big part of her life, and she has developed the Eralys Fernández Training Academy with the vision of employing highly qualified and passionate piano teachers. Please have a look at the Academy page for more details about music lessons


Vlad/ Curator