Gonzalo Rubalcaba


“We have reached a point in the evolution not only of music, but of the world, where people have less resistance to being mixed. It is a time to be open and anxious to learn beyond your own space. And it doesn’t take anything away from you. In fact it brings rich things to you,” Gonzalo Rubalcaba said in a 2008 interview with the New York Times. His own musical socialisation was influenced by the Cuba of the 1970s. Back then, playing jazz was not supported—primarily for political reasons. Access to recordings by famous jazz musicians was very limited until the mid-1980s.

Bösendorfer Artist Series / Bernhard Rausch

Gonzalo Rubalcaba grew up in a musical household, surrounded by siblings and famous ancestors who played music: Both his father and grandfather were prominent musicians. His musical development was supplemented by classical training at the conservatory and later at the Havana Institute of Fine Arts, where Rubalcaba studied percussion, piano and composition. From these two sources of influence, his family and the conservatory, Rubalcaba developed his percussion-influenced, strikingly melodic music.

Rubalcaba achieved worldwide fame in the 1980s through his performances with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. Over the course of his worldwide concert activity, he has performed with artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. Five of his 15 Grammy nominations were in the category “Best Jazz Album.”

Bösendorfer has accompanied his career for many years. Rubalcaba explains his enthusiasm for Bösendorfer grand pianos thus: “Besides their Bösendorfer identity, these pianos offer the player a multitude of ways to create the sound and dynamics and other aesthetic qualities one desires.” But that’s not all: “Bösendorfer as a manufacturer has shaped part of music history in Europe that went on to influence the whole world.”