Nicaragua: In Search of Alejandro Cousin, pt. 1

10

January
2013

"Hermosa soberana" by Alejandro Cousin (detail).

Alexandre Joseph Theodore Cousin may be one of the most interesting historical figures in Nicaraguan music history, in spite of the fact that he was Belgian and that we know so little about him. As the details below suggest, he led an interesting career worthy of further investigation.

In Nicaragua, he is known as Alejandro Cousin.

1858: Living in Panama City, Panama by late December, when he took out several newspaper ads offering lessons in “Singing, the Piano, and other Instruments,” after returning from “a tour through South America.”

1868: Settled in Nicaragua and installed as Director of the Banda de los Supremos Poderes by this year (according to a recommendation letter he wrote on behalf of one his musicians in 1892); marries Leonie Isidore Josephe Oudart at some point in the next few years.

1870: He and a business partner, Paul Levy, were given a three-year privilegio to stock water from various parts of the country, principally, Masaya.

1875: His daughter Blanca (“Blanche Marie Therese Alexandra”) is born in Namur, Belgium (she passes away in May of 1956 in Managua).

c1881: His only other child, Luis Alejandro, is born in Belgium (later dies in Chichigalpa at the age of 54).

1889: His “Marcha Roberto Sacasa, himno nacional nicaragüense” is published in Managua.

1890: The “Marcha Roberto Sacasa…” is published in the United States as “Robert Sacasa. Patriotic Air” in John Philip Sousa’s National, patriotic and typical airs of all lands (Philadelphia: H. Coleman).

1892: Blanca marries José Santos Zelaya, who becomes President of Nicaragua the following year.

1898: Departs for Europe for a period of time.

1902: On a different trip (presumably), he visits Washington D.C. with Blanca and several grandchildren on their way back to Nicaragua.

1905: His “Hermosa soberana” (“Himno de Nicaragua”) is published in Managua “for the national schools of the republic.”

1907: Serves as Secretary to the Nicaraguan delegation at The Hague Peace Conference.

1910: Returns to Belgium (permanently) as a result of President Zelaya’s fall from power, and passes away not long after.

Other:

The Victor Recording Company released two of his compositions on LP (78rpm), the march “Gerardo Barrios” (1926) and “Hermosa soberana” (1929).

His father may have been Alexandre Cousin, “born in Pau, [France] on November 20, 1801; held the post of 1st Bandmaster, 2nd Regiment [in the Belgian military] from November 24, 1830 until 1855; received a pension after an honorable career on June 26, 1855; died in Namur on December 22, 1861.”

Note: if you have any more details and/or original documents about Cousin that you would like to share, please send me a note.

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