Rafael Hernández


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(1892–1965), composer and musician. One of the most important composers of Puerto Rican popular music during the twentieth century, Rafael Hernández composed work to stand the test of the time. Hernández was born in the town of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. He was born into a poor family; as a child he learned the craft of cigar making. Hernández was not interested in music in his youth; he dreamed of being a train engineer or a cigar maker. He did work for a short time in a local cigar factory, but his grandmother insisted he study music. She ran a small restaurant where local musicians and teachers frequently came to eat. One of her customers was José Ruellan Lequerica, a respected bandmaster and music teacher, who became Hernández's first music teacher. Beginning at the age of twelve, Hernández learned to play the trombone, saxhorn, banjo, clarinet, tuba, violin, piano, and guitar. When he learned how to write music, his life and the history of Puerto Rican music changed forever. At the age of fourteen, he played for the Cocolia Orchestra then moved to San Juan, where he continued his studies in music and also played for the municipal orchestra, La Orquesta Municipal de San Juan, under the direction of Manuel Tizól.


From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: United States History.

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