"The heartbeat of a country"

Süddeutsche Zeitung 11.09.2019


The origin of the clave is largely unknown, but in Cuba, a country with a musical diversity that is unique in the world, people are aware of its essential power. The clave refers to both the musical instrument - two sounding woods - and the leading rhythm that carries every piece of music. In his documentary "La Clave - A Mistery of Musica Cubana", director Kurt Hartel consciously decides to let local musicians tell the story of Cuban music in order not to reproduce clichés but to convey an unadulterated view of musical events. He accompanies jazz musicians, drummers and music students in the rehearsal room, in the concert hall and on the streets of Havana. This creates a lively portrait of the Cuban music scene. Music is integrated as a matter of course into the everyday life of all Cubans - a way of dealing with artistic forms that can and should encourage imitation. Cubans are born with a sense of rhythm and musical understanding.

Wim Wender's cult film "Buena Vista Social Club" (1999) was the latest to make it known worldwide that music and rhythm are the heartbeat of Cuba. In "La Clave", Hartel succeeds in exploring broader music-historical and social contexts, such as the importance of passing on musical knowledge to future generations. The importance of music in Cuba is particularly evident in the music education that all students can enjoy free of charge. The country provides exemplary impetus in this field: Cuba has more music schools per inhabitant than any other country in the world.