Havaneres on the beach in Puerto Soller. | Pilar Pellicer


In 1860, a Basque composer, Sebastián Iradier, travelled to Cuba. He was to die five years later and so didn't appreciate what he achieved as a result of that visit. He didn't invent the 'havanera' (also 'habanera'), but he took a Cuban style of music and popularised it. In effect, he created a musical genre, and his defining song was La Paloma (The Dove).

Bizet was to feature a havanera in his 1875 opera Carmen. Elvis Presley was to record a version of La Paloma for the 1961 film Blue Hawaii. No More credited Iradier as one of the writers.

The style made its way into Catalan popular music at the time of the Nova Canço (New Song) movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Today, it is as popular as ever, and Puerto Soller pays tribute by staging an annual event. The eleventh Trobada d'Havaneres started on Friday night and will continue on Saturday night.

Before the concerts commenced at 8pm, a group from Barcelona, Mar i Vent, performed on a llaüt boat. They were then one of the acts when the concerts got under way. They will be performing on Saturday as well.

One of the supporters of the event was legendary Mallorcan singer Tomeu Penya. Other acts included vocal groups and folk dancers. Held on Repic Beach, it attracted hundreds of people. As it does each year, a mark of the enduring appeal of the havanera. And it is thanks to Sebastián Iradier.