Perucho Figueredo

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Lawyer and landowner Perucho Figueredo (full name Pedro Felipe Figueredo y Cisneros) was a principal player in the 19th century Cuban resistance against Spain and a talented composer, poet, and musician.…
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Lawyer and landowner Perucho Figueredo (full name Pedro Felipe Figueredo y Cisneros) was a principal player in the 19th century Cuban resistance against Spain and a talented composer, poet, and musician. Raised on a sugar plantation, Figueredo earned his law degree from the University of Madrid in 1844, but did not practice until he settled in Havana in 1856, during which time he contributed pieces of music and articles to the newspaper La Piragua. When his father died, Figueredo returned to Bayamo to administer the family property. He rejected the heavy taxation upon landowners from local authorities representing Spanish interests, and this earned him 14 months of house arrest. During this time, Figueredo composed arduously, home-schooled his children, and secretly conspired to overthrow the Spanish-backed Cuban government.

Figueredo and his co-conspirators began to organize in earnest in 1867, and they asked Figueredo to compose something that would serve as "our 'Marseillaise'." Figueredo composed the song "La Bayamesa" and first delivered it before the Comité Revolucionario de Bayamo on August 15, 1867. Repeated during the Corpus Christi celebrations in Bayamo of June 1868, "La Bayamesa" quickly caught the attention of local Spanish authorities. It would be too little, too late, as an army of rebels under the leadership of Figueredo took the town of Bayamo on October 20. However, by January 1869 a Spanish force, 2,000 strong, arrived to take it back, prompting Figueredo to burn all of his property, including his music manuscripts, in a massive bonfire set atop the two pianos in his manor house.

For nearly two years, Figueredo and his fellow refugees managed to elude capture, but on August 15, 1870, soldiers discovered Figueredo hiding in a forest. Convicted of treason, he was executed two days later. Weakened and ill from his long months as a fugitive, Figueredo requested a carriage to be taken to his execution, as he was unable to march. The authorities allowed him to ride a donkey instead, prompting a quotation from Figueredo now famous in Cuba: "No es el primer redentor que cabalga sobre un asno" ("I will not have been the first redeemer who has had to ride on an ass").

Since its official adoption in 1902, "La Bayamesa" has served as the National Anthem of the Republic of Cuba. As far as is known, scholars have never investigated other music of Figueredo, as little of it as might still be extant.