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RAFAEL HERNÁNDEZ  

(1891 - 1965)

The programme includes two arias from the operetta Cofresi (1949) by Rafael Hernández Marín (1892–1965), who is widely considered to be the most important Puerto Rican composer of the 20th century. Hernandez’s professional career began in 1917, and after the war he moved to New York City where, in the 1920s, he started writing songs and travelled all over the United States and Latin America, finally settling in Puerto Rico in 1947 as the orchestral director of the government-owned WIPR Radio.

Hernández penned over 3000 works, including Capullito de Alhelí, Cachita, and most famously, the iconic El Cumbanchero. Many of his compositions were strongly influenced by Cuban musical idioms. The original operetta Cofresi, about an eponymous pirate, was lost for over 30 years and featured a libretto by the Puerto Rican poet Gustavo Palés Matos (1907–1963). Peermusic’s Julio Bagué produced the première recording of the reconstruction, which was performed by the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. That recording was recognised by UNESCO as part of the patrimony of Puerto Rico.

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