Pablo Milanés’ Remains Buried in Spain

By Lupita Franco Peimbert.

After six decades of trova and boleros, for a total of 236 songs, Cuban musician and singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés died at the age of 79 in Madrid, Spain, at dawn on November 22, 2022, a victim of an oncohematological disease that he had been suffering since 2017. Milanés had left his native Cuba and settled in Spain to undergo medical treatments. Spain not only welcomed him but also, new generations embraced his music.

“He leaves us hundreds of songs and unforgettable moments on stage and off stage as a legacy. He lived with the same passion and commitment that he loved music, his family, his friends, and his country. He leaves an indelible mark on all of them,” said Pablo Milanés’ artistic office.

His funeral was on November 23rd at the Casa de Americas in the Plaza Cibeles in Madrid. A spokesperson for his wife and children said he would be buried at an intimate, private ceremony. 

From 2021 to the summer of 2022, the legendary artist performed concerts in several countries, and his deteriorated health was already noticeable. He often sang seated and accompanied by a cane. 

He gave one last concert in Cuba in the summer of 2022 before millions of compatriots. Milanés never lost his musical quality or the beauty of his voice, and the subtle energy he emanated continued alive and present.

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Pablo Milanés, one of the creators of the Trova Cubana.

Pablo Milanés was born in Bayamo, Cuba, in 1943; he studied at the Havana Music Conservatory while frequenting the cafes and bars of his time and living with street musicians.

His music was a mix of bohemian, jazz, and other categories; his deep lyrics made people think and feel. Milanés accompanied generations of young people from the 1960s to date, committed to his artistic career and social vocation until the end. Songs like “El Breve Espacio” live on in the hearts and memories of his followers.

Pablo, as his fellow artists and friends called him, was one of those who popularized the Protest Song and one of the creators of the Cuban Trova in the 1960s, along with Silvio Rodriguez and Noel Nicola. Both movements served as a platform to express ideas of justice and social injustice and of love and heartbreak. At different stages of his life, Milanés was the voice of the people and political views; at the same time, he gave voice to romanticism and human relations.

One of the characteristics of his cultural contribution was giving a new life to the work of great Cuban poets such as José Martí and Nicolas Guillén. When performing, Pablo Milanés often said, “this is a poem by Nicolas Guillén that he called ‘Canción de Amor,” but I have named it “In Such a Quiet Way.”

In previous decades, the artist used his music first in favor of the Cuban revolution and then against the government. He was sometimes imprisoned for his dissent, and rebellion acts, apart from receiving other punishments. In recent years, he decided to dedicate himself to his music and moved away from political acts, indicating that he was “tired of raising his voice and because his words were left in the wind.”

The most important Latino artists mourn his death and have expressed their sentiments on social media. Regional Mexican artist Alejandro Fernandez wrote, “Thank you for a lot of music and inspiration. May you reach peace and love.” 

“Dear Pablo, I am sad you are gone but happy for all the happiness you brought. Thank you for your music,” said Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz. 

The artist the Latin Grammy Award for best singer-songwriter album in 2006 and the Latin Grammy Award for Musical Excellence in 2015.

He is considered one of the Latin American masters of the XX and XXI centuries. His music and contributions remain in the hearts of millions worldwide who will continue to listen to his protest songs, love songs, and songs dedicated to his beloved Cuba with nostalgia.

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