Friday, October 23, 2009

Composers of Puerto Rico

Felipe Gutiérrez Espinosa was the foremost 19th-century Puerto Rican composer of operas and sacred music. Espinosa was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico on May 26, 1825 and died in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Nov 27, 1899. His father, Julián Gutiérrez, gave him his first music lessons, but he was mainly self-taught. In 1845 he was appointed músico in the Iberia battalion, and wrote the first opera based on a Puerto Rican subject, Guarionex (1856), as well as two other operas, a zarzuela and a large quantity of religious music. He composed memorable melodies clothed in a rich orchestral fabric, and was able to achieve moments of drama and grandeur.

In 1858 he won the post of “maestro de capilla” for the San Juan Cathedral. Over the next few years he conducted the orchestra in the Teatro Municipal during its opera seasons. Among his achievements are winning a gold medal for his third opera, Macías, and his Teoria de la música, published in San Juan for pupils of his free music academy, reached a third edition in 1875. His life changed its course though, when in 1898, he lost his cathedral post, and in the last year of his life existed on a pittance earned as a concierge.


El amor de un pescador

El Bearnés

Gozos de la Inmaculada Concepción - 1878
Guarionex (3, A. Tapia y Rivera) - 1876

Macías (3, M. Travieso y del Rivero, after M.J. de Larra) - 1877

“The Father of the Danza” Manuel Gregorio Tavarez was Puerto Rico's first renowned classical and danza composer. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to a French father and a Puerto Rican mother, Tavarez studied under the guidance of Jose Cabrizas, Domingo Delgado, Auber and D'Albert. He became an accomplished pianist at an early age, and was given the opportunity to study at the Music Conservatory of Paris at the age of 15 when he was granted a scholarship by "The Economic Society of Friends of Puerto Rico.”

While in France Tavarez suffered a stroke which left his hand partially paralyzed, and suffered a loss of hearing. Tavarez returned to Puerto Rico because of his health problems where he settled down in Ponce and gave piano lessons. As he overcame his health problems he was able perform in concerts of his own music.

Tavarez is considered to be Puerto Rico's first Romantic era composer and his works have been recognized as an integral part of Puerto Rican culture. He has been honored by the Government of Puerto Rico with the naming of public buildings and institutions after him, among them, a theater in San Juan.


La Ausencia

La Ondina

La Sensitive

Margarita 1870 the danza (considered his greatest work)

Me Amás?

Pobre Corazon

Recuerdos de Antaño

Rendencion (Redemption) – Funeral March dedicated to José Campeche

Souvener de Puerto Rico, the Rhapsody

Un Recuerdito, danza capricho

Juan Morel Campos was a Puerto Rican composer considered by many to be responsible for taking danza to its highest level. Born in Ponce (May 16, 1857), Campos began studying music at the age of 8 under the guidance of Antonio Egipciaco and Manuel Gregorio Tavarez, with whom he learned to play nearly every brass instrument. Campos was one of the founders and directors of the “Ponce Firemen’s Band” known in Spanish as “La Banda de Bomberos del Parque de Ponce. Campos had his own orchestra (La Lira Poncena) for whom he wrote most of his danzas.

Though he is most recognized for his danzas, he also wrote symphonies, waltzes, marches, and overtures. Campos wrote 550 compositions, of them, over 300 were danzas. His inspirations were primarily women and love. On April 26, 1896, Campos suffered a stroke during a concert in Ponce, and died soon after, on May 16. Puerto Rico, as well as, New York has honored Campos with the naming schools after him, and erecting his statue. In 2001, Campos was inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame.


Alma Sublime 1915

Ausencia 1916

Bella Illusión, for cello & piano

Felices Dias (Happy Days)

Idilio (Dammed Love)

Maldito Amor

Mis penas

No me Toques (Do Not touch Me)

Sopapos - First danza


Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 26, 1854, Braulio Dueno Colon began learning the foundations of music at a young age from his father. He then studied under the “Maestro” Aruti, with whom he learned about composition and harmony. Whenever an Opera or Zaruela company visited Puerto Rico, Dueno would often be hired to play the flute for the orchestras.

In 1879, he composed the music for the Zaruela “ Los Baños de Coamo” (The Baths of Coamo.” Dueno won many prizes and honors for his compositions, including his overture “La Amistad” in 1877; “Sinfonia Dramatica”; “Noche de Otoño” and “Estudio sobre la Danza Puertorriqueno” (1914). His contribution to “Canciones Escolares in 1912” was what earned him lasting recognition as one of Puerto Rico’s greatest composers, and it was also honored at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901.

Braulio Dueno Colon lived most of his life in the city of Bayamon where he died on April 4, 1934. Bayamon honored his memory by naming a school, a suburb, and the municipal cemetery after him.


Belia y Belen

La Criolla

La Jibara alegre


Seis Chorreao

Jose Ignacio Quinton was born to be a musician. He was the son of Juan Bautista Quinton y Luzon (a Frenchman, a composer and an organist). Quinton took lessons with his father as well as with Ernesto del Castillo who taught him how to play the piano. At the age of 9 he performed his first concert, and when he was 11 he played the accompaniment for the famous violinist Brindis de Salas, who lauded the boy’s performance. Quinton was the conductor of his school’s band, and in his spare time would give piano and violin lessons.

By 1917, Quinton had taught himself enough English to be able to study the styles and compositions of Debussy and Ravel, among others. He won a number of awards for his compositions, including his “Cuarteto para instrumentos de cuerdas,” and “Varaciones sobre un tema de Humel”. As a tribute to the late composer of danzas Angel Mislan, he wrote “Misa de Requim”. His greatest composition was the danza “El Coqui,” in which he simulated the sound of the coqui – a tiny frog found only in Puerto Rico – with the band’s instruments.

Jose Ignacio Quinton died on December 19, 1925 in Cuamo where he is burried. The town honored Quinton by naming one of its principal avenues in his honor, and conserving the house where he lived as a historical landmark. He left behind a conservatory of music, which can also be found in Cuamo.


Amor imposible


Cuarteto para instrumentos de cuerdas

El coqui

Mi Estrella

Misa de Requim

Varaciones sobre un tema de Humel

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