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Campos Parsi, Héctor

Héctor Campos Parsi, perhaps the most widely known Puerto Rican composer of classical music was born in 1922 in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Campos Parsi studied liberal arts and earned his degree from the University of Puerto Rico. Shortly afterwards, he began his studies in the United States beginning at the New England Conservatory and then at the Berkshire Music Center summer session with Aaron Copland. The composer returned to Puerto Rico in 1955 just as the cultural scene in his homeland was beginning to flower.

Within the world of classical music, his style can be said to be neo-classicist, along the trail blazed by Aaron Copland. Within that camp, he has composed music both national and international styles. His works are fundamentally tonal although he has also composed electronic and aleatoric music as did important contemporaries such as Boulez, John Cage and others.

In Puerto Rico, he was closely associated with fellow composers Jack Delano and Amaury Veray. Conservative in his politics, Campos Parsi was also known for his strong support of statehood for Puerto Rico.

Some of the composer’s better known works include Sonetos Sagrados (Sacred Sonnets), Sonata in G for piano, Divertimento del Sur for orchestra, Columnas y Círculos for voice and piano, Dúo Trágico a la Memoria de John F. Kennedy for piano and orchestra and Música for three violins.

Sonetos Sagrados, was composed to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the New World and Spanish heritage of Puerto Rico. Performed by the Bronx Arts Ensemble and led by Roberto Sierra, it was released on the New World Records label in 1992. The album includes several songs such as Dona Rosita la Soltera as well as five sonnets. The sonnets were based on music of Spain from the 16-1700’s an age known known as the Golden Age of the renaissance. The world premiere came in 1966 during the Inter-American Arts Festival in San Juan.

The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture also released an album of Campos Parsi’s music: Música de Hector Campos Parsi, in the late 1970’s.

As the former director of music programs at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, Campos Parsi was instrumental in establishing cultural centers, music festivals, such as Inter-American Festival of the Arts, the San Juan Chamber Music Festival and the Fiesta of Puerto Rican Music. He also staged concerts, and television programs and was active in research and music publications.

His contributions in music earned him international accolades and the Premio de Musica from the Puerto Rican Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1970.

The celebrated composer passed away 30 January 1998 in Puerto Rico.

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