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Postcards from Erica March 2023

Trying to find unaccompanied cello music by Hispanic composers? Look no further. I created my online “just-the-facts-ma’am”-style digital postcards to introduce listeners to new-to-you cello music and to help cellists, orchestra directors, cello teachers, and students seeking new repertoire, contest pieces, and supplemental literature.

Postcards from Erica March 2023

This month I’m starting a new series of postcards on unaccompanied works for cello by Hispanic composers.

These monthly postcards give you the information you need to help you choose a piece that’s right for you. I also include links to make it easy for you to locate and purchase the sheet music you want. I hope you enjoy exploring these pieces as much as I did selecting them.

Click here for a quick round-up of my postcards featuring works by Black composers, here for my works featuring women composers, or revisit all of my postcards.

March Postcard #1: Canto en forma de Saeta by Georgina Sánchez Torres

Spanish cellist, composer and conductor Georgina Sánchez Torres has been described as one of the most versatile musicians of her generation. A native of Valladolid, she began playing cello at age 7, studying at conservatories around Spain and Europe. She has received awards in 35 national and international cello and chamber music competitions, both as a soloist and in chamber music.

  • Title: Canto en forma de Saeta
  • Composer: Georgina Sánchez Torres
  • Year Composed: 2009
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 3:05
  • Number of Measures: unmeasured
  • Number of Pages: 1
  • Tempo: Preludio – quarter = 68, 100, 120; Cueca – dotted quarter = 80
  • Difficulty Level: advanced
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb
  • Technique Employed: bass, tenor, and treble clefs; 2/4, 4/4, and 6/8 time signatures; double, triple, and quadruple stops; pizzicato, rolling arpeggios, glissandos, tapping on the cello, yelling the word Vuelta (meaning “turn” or “turn to the other side” in the dance)
  • Publisher: Santor
  • Where to Purchase:
  • Cost of Sheet Music*: €6.95 EUR



“Since I was a child, I remember Easter processions to which I went with my family. Especially, the most staggering for me was the Good Friday in Guide de Granadilla, the village of my origins. A few minutes before 10 PM, we entered San Andres’ Church, each one with a candle, to wait for the processional pasos. The first one, the Holy Sepulcher, carried on the shoulders of men; women carried the Virgin Mary the same way tens of meters behind. During the procession, some parishioners recited poems of religious fervor, and some women sang saetas from their balconies. The tearing of these songs left me the substrate of this Spanish essence, having born this brief piece that has been the beginning of the program for most of my solo cello recitals.” – Georgina Sánchez Torres


I think this would be a great contest or recital piece for an intermediate player. Rocking chords, long trills, quick grace notes, and 5th-position passages provide a technical challenge for those who have reached Suzuki Book 4 and above.

Though this work is unmetered, measures could certainly be created by the addition of slash marks. Most “measures” would neatly fit the 4/4 time signature.

If you haven’t encountered thirty-second notes, give it a go! The sixteenths and thirty-second notes in Saeta are more of a flourish, so don’t worry about absolute rhythmic precision in this piece. The tempo and style of the song are quite free, leaving the player room to showcase his/her/their musicality.

March Postcard #2: Preludio y Cueca Para Cello en Do Mayor by José Luis Sánchez

José Luis Sánchez is a professor of music at Colegio Galileo in the Valparaíso region of Chile. In addition to teaching workshops on guitar, choir, and composition, he is the musical director and composer of Takina Wayna (Andean Folklore) and Cinnamon Flower (Ballads). Since 2016, he has served as composer, arranger, and bass guitarist for the pop rock group Nos Bemoles.

  • Title: Preludio y Cueca Para Cello en Do Mayor
  • Composer: José Luis Sánchez
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: 3:00
  • Number of Measures: 56, 43
  • Number of Pages: 3
  • Tempo: quarter = 72, 80; quarter = 104, 144
  • Difficulty Level: advanced
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb
  • Technique Employed: bass, tenor, treble clefs; 2/8, 3/8, 5/8, 6/8, 9/8, 12/8, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 7/4, 8/4, and 10/4 time signatures; grace notes, glissandos, harmonics, false harmonics, double and triple stops; pizzicato and col legno
  • Publisher: composer
  • Where to Get the Score:  IMSLP
  • Cost of Score: free




“Cueca (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkweka]) is a family of musical styles and associated dances from Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. In Chile, the cueca holds the status of national dance, where it was officially declared as such by the Pinochet dictatorship on September 18, 1979.


While cueca’s origins are not clearly defined, it is considered to have mostly European Spanish and arguably indigenous influences. The most widespread version of its origins relates it to the zamacueca which arose in Peru as a variation of Spanish Fandango dancing with criollo. The dance is then thought to have passed to Chile and Bolivia, where its name was shortened and where it continued to evolve. Due to the dance’s popularity in the region, the Peruvian evolution of the zamacueca was nicknamed “la chilena,” “the Chilean,” due to similarities between the dances. Later, after the Pacific War, the term marinera, in honor of Peru’s naval combatants and because of hostile attitude towards Chile, was used in place of “la chilena.” In March 1879 the writer and musician Abelardo Gamarra renamed the “chilena” as the “marinera.” The Marinera, Zamba, and the Cueca styles are distinct from each other and from their root dance, the zamacueca.

Another theory is that Cueca originated in the early nineteenth-century bordellos of South America, as a pas de deux facilitating partner finding.[10]

The usual interpretation of this courting dance is zoomorphic: it tries to reenact the courting ritual of a rooster and a hen. The male displays a quite enthusiastic and at times even aggressive attitude while attempting to court the female, who is elusive, defensive and demure. The dance often finishes with the man kneeling on one knee, with the woman placing her foot triumphantly on his raised knee.

In Bolivia, there are many variations throughout the different regions. Cueca styles of La Paz, Potosí and Sucre are the elegant and static versions, whereas in Cochabamba and Tarija the style is much livelier and free. The same could be said with the music where in different regions rhythm and speed slightly differ amongst the regions. While dancing, handkerchiefs are used by both male and female dancers by twirling over the head. It is said the twirling of the handkerchief is a way to lure the woman.” – Wikipedia


This exuberant piece would make a great encore or program finale. The Preludio begins slowly and gradually accelerates into the Cueca, which opens with drumming on the fingerboard, followed by pizzicato and arco 6ths. If you have not made friends with 6ths, here is your chance!

The Cueca is written in 6/8 and frequently alternates between two and three beats per bar, as well as on and off-beat figures.  Due to the rhythm, the bow speed is constantly changing, requiring an advanced understanding of bow distribution and placement. Many of the figures work best at the balance point, making this an ideal piece to take on while practicing the Saint-Saëns Allegro Appassionato or Sammartini Sonata in G.

March Postcard #3: Suite for Violoncello Solo by Gaspar Cassadó

Spanish cellist and composer Gaspar Cassadó was known for both his original works for cello, guitar, and chamber ensembles as well as for his transcriptions of cello works by other composers. Following the end of World War I, Cassadó toured Europe and several other countries. Ever an innovator, he is known for being the first cellist to play a public performance using only steel strings (rather than a more traditional combination of steel and gut).

  • Title: Suite for Violoncello Solo
  • Composer: Gaspar Cassadó (30 September 1897 — 24 December 1966)
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Year Published: 1926
  • Movements: 3
  • Duration of Work: 15:28
  • Number of Measures: 83, 103, 199
  • Number of Pages: 10
  • Tempo: Andante, Allegro giusto, Lento ma non troppo, Allegretto tranquillo, Allegro marcato
  • Difficulty Level: advanced
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb, in all movements
  • Technique Employed:bass, tenor & treble clefs; 6/8, 2/4, 3,4, 4/4, 5/4 time signatures; double, triple & quadruple stops, grace notes, septuplets, nontuplets, undetuplets; harmonics & false harmonics, pizzicato
  • Publisher: Universal Edition
  • Where to Purchase: IMSLP
  • Cost of Sheet Music*: free (Non PD EU)



“Like the Bach suites, Cassadó’s suite is a collection of dances, introduced by a Preludio, which in the first movement of his suite turns into a zarabanda, related to the baroque sarabande. Cervera suggests that the two presentations of the opening theme, one forte, the other piano, represent, in turn, Don Quixote and his beloved, Dulcinea. But other associations run through the movement, as well, including quotations from Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe (the famous opening flute solo) and from Zoltan Kodaly’s Sonata for Solo Cello.

The second movement is a sardana, the folk dance most closely associated with the Catalonian nationalist revival of the 19th century. The sardana is a round dance accompanied by a cobla wind band comprising a high-whistling flaviol (wooden fipple flute), double-reed shawms and various brass instruments. The opening, played entirely in harmonics, imitates the high whistling sound of the flaviol summoning the dancers to the town square. The sardana is a dance in three parts, the middle section being more lyrical and in a minor key. The frequent changes in register on the cello imitate the way that various sections of the band interact.

The last movement is the one in which the spirit of the dance is most evident, with the snap of castanets imitated in sharp, abrupt rhythms, the strumming of the guitar in flamboyant arpeggio patterns, and the harmonies of Spanish folk music in the distinctive pattern of the four-note descending bass line.” – Donald G. Gíslason


If you haven’t already heard this work, do yourself a favor and listen- it truly is enchanting. Though not terribly well-known, it has gained popularity in recent years.

At first glance, the Suite seems quite readable, that is until you actually sightread it.

The first movement contains sudden, sporadic bow rocking interspersed with vertical left-hand flourishes, which, in theory, should sound effortless.

The Sardana is filled with thumb position double stops moving up and down the cello, and 3rds in the lower positions thrown in for good measure.

The final movement is laden with double, triple, and quadruple stops, frequently while dancing lightly on the string.

Each section could really serve as a small etude.  Kudos to those who make this appear easy!

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