Torres, Celso

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Torres was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico on 8 August, 1902. He began his studies in music under the direction of Professor Herminio Brau with whom he learned music theory and to play the trumpet and bombardino.

In 1918 he traveled to the United States where he earned a BA degree in the Arts with a specialty in music from the University of Virginia. He played alto saxophone, clarinet, and piano in various local music bands and orchestras. He did post-graduate studies in Puerto Rico and additional piano classes under the direction of Jesús María Sanromá, and choral direction under Bartolomé Bover.

Torres subsequently taught piano and in 1935, formed a very successful dance orchestra. In 1945, he was asked to organize the ROTC band at the Agriculture College in Mayagüez, which he directed with great success until his retirement in 1977, at which timed he earned the honorary title “Excelso Don Celso”.

As a composer, Torres pursued the danza with great dedication and love. He developed a unique interpretive style which garnered kudos from those knowledgeable with the genre. He won numerous awards from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and other organizations.

In his many trips to Europe and Asia, he never lost an opportunity to expose others to the danza, whether it was in a concert hall or at the piano of a hotel lobby. Don Celso Torres personifies the Puerto Rican danza; that is why he is known today as the “The Gentleman of the Danza”.