Cuban Composer Tania León Wins 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Music

By David Salazar

Cuban composer Tania León has won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her work “Stride.”

The jury called the work a “musical journey full of surprise, with powerful brass and rhythmic motifs that incorporate Black music traditions from the U.S. and the Caribbean into a Western orchestral fabric.” “Stride” premiered at Lincoln Center in New York in February 2020.

The work was written in honor of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The Cuban composer began studying piano when she was just 4-years-old and later graduated as a teacher. She then studied composition at the National Conservatory of Cuba.

She later took up residence in New York City, where she studied orchestral conducting under the tutelage of Laszlo Halasz, Leonardo Bernstein, and Seiki Ozawa. From there she became the first Music Director of the Arthur Mitchell Dance Theater.

She was the founder of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, and has served as Music Director of the Alin Ailey Dance Company, a composer of the Lincoln Center, and has also been a teacher. She has conducted the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig, the New York Philharmonic, l’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, among others.