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Joseph Lacalle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

José María Lacalle
Born(1859-11-17)17 November 1859 [1]
Died11 June 1937(1937-06-11) (aged 77)
OccupationClarinetist, composer, conductor
Known forcomposing the song "Amapola"
External audio
audio icon You may hear Joseph Lacalle's song "Amapola" as sung by Nino Martini with the conductor Alfredo Antonini in 1940 here on

José María Lacalle García, known in Anglo America as Joseph M. Lacalle (November 17, 1859 – June 11, 1937) was a clarinetist, composer, conductor and music critic. He is best known for composing the song "Amapola". His surname is misspelled LaCalle in some sources.

Biography and career

José María Lacalle García was born in Cadiz, Spain, and emigrated to the United States in 1884, sailing from the Port of Havana, Cuba, to the Port of New York on the S/S Newport.[2]. He performed on woodwind instruments with a number of popular bands including the John Philip Sousa Band, the Patrick Gilmore Band, the 7th Regiment Band, the Hoadley Musical Society Amateur Orchestra, and the Columbia Spanish Band. He conducted his own band, the Lacalle Band, and the 23rd Regiment Band. Lacalle directed instrumental groups for Columbia between 1917 and 1929,[1] and participated in early recordings for other recording companies.

Lacalle composed numerous songs and marches, including "Twenty-third Regiment March" (1902), "Pobrecito Faraon" (1923), "Amapola" (1920),[2] "Aquel Beso" (1927) and "The Light That Never Fails (Luz Eterna)" (1928).

"Amapola" was originally composed with Spanish lyrics and performed instrumentally. In the early 1940s "Amapola" was given English lyrics by Albert Gamse. The song was then recorded by a number of artists. Jimmy Dorsey recorded a version which hit #1 on the Billboard charts. "Amapola" went to #1 on Your Hit Parade in 1941.[3][4]

In later life Lacalle worked as a music critic for Columbia Phonograph Company. He founded the Spanish Theater Company in Brooklyn and presented Zarzuelas to American audiences. He was also influential in promoting Spanish and Cuban music. He died in Brooklyn, New York in 1937 at the age of 76.


  1. ^ Spottswood, Richard (1990). Ethnic Music on Records: A Discography of Ethnic Recordings Produced in the United States, 1893-1942. Vol. 4: Spanish, Portuguese, Philippines, Basque (Music in American Life) (v. 4). University of Illinois Press. p. 1995. ISBN 0252017226.
  2. ^ Library of Congress. Copyright Office. (1920). Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1920 Music Last Half of 1920 New Series Vol 15 Part 2. U.S. Govt. Print. Off. p. 1255.
  3. ^ William H. Young, Nancy K. Young Music Of The Great Depression Page 203 2005 "In the late 1930s, he added vocalists Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell, and their duets on such numbers as "Amapola" (written in 1924, revived 1940; words and music by Joseph M. Lacalle) helped gain the band a broad measure of popularity."
  4. ^ William Emmett Studwell, Mark Baldin The big band reader: songs favored by swing era orchestras 2000 Page 172 "Joseph M. Lacalle wrote the original Spanish lyrics, an English translation, and the melody for "Amapola," which was a top number of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra."
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Joseph Lacalle
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