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Sanromá, Jesús María

Internationally famous pianist, Jesús María Sanromá was born on 7 November 1902 in Carolina, Puerto Rico. His father, originally from Catalonia, Spain, emigrated to the island in 1890 to accept a post of chaplain in the Catholic church but left the church and worked as a piano tuner and church organist.

At an early age, Sanromá demonstrated great interest in and affinity for the piano, despite his father’s reluctance; trying to encourage his son to play the flute and violin instead. But his father recognized his son’s talent on the keyboard and helped his son study the piano. Within a few years Sanromá was performing in concerts around the island. In 1917, father and son embarked to Boston in order for the young pianist to pursue his musical training.

Shortly after his graduation from the New England Conservatory he earned the post of official pianist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Sanromá’s artistic relationship with its conductor, Serge Koussevitzky, placed him in an advantageous position within the American musical scene. Not only did he perform the symphonic repertory with one of America’s most important conductors and orchestras, but also had an opportunity to work under the baton of famous composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Carlos Chávez, Paul Hindemith, and Walter Piston.

During his career, Sanromá commissioned many composers to write new music, and was very eager to present it to the general public. During his tenure with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Sanromá met violist-pianist Arthur Fiedler with whom he would develop a special artistic relationship that would last for many years. Fiedler and Sanromá became very close and soon were performing as duo pianists. When Fiedler became the conductor to the Boston Pops Orchestra, they continued their relationship and soon became a soloist-conductor team very much in demand in the concert halls and the recording studios.

For RCA Records, they pressed the first recordings of the standard repertory including their famous collaboration of Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F by American composer George Gershwin. After resigning as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s official pianist he embarked on an international career.

During his concert and recording career, Sanromá championed the music of Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, Carlos Chávez, Paul Hindemith, Juan José Castro, Alberto Ginastera and Heitor Villa-Lobos. His collaboration and recordings with eminent figures like Jasha Heifetz, Jacques Thibaud, Pablo Casals, José Ferrer, Leornard Bernstein, George Szell, William Steingberg, Howard Hanson and Serge Koussevitzky, to name a few, are ample testimony of his high artistic musical standards. Some of these historical recordings, are now being re-released such as his album “Piezas Características”. Others are more recent releases, such this recording of Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in D Minor composed by Ferde Grofe and performed with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Ferde Grofe conducting.

On his return to his homeland in 1952, Sanromá became instrumental in the development of the Arts in Puerto Rico. He was actively involved with most educational and artistic institutions, such as the Conservatory of Music, Festival Casals, University of Puerto Rico’s Cultural Series, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, WIPR-TV and Radio programs, and the Ateneo Puertorriqueño. An annual piano competition, in his honor and named after Sanromá is hosted in Puerto Rico.

His recording career, an integral part of his artistic endeavors, started when the 22-year old pianist accompanied the great French violinist Jacques Thibaud during his first American sessions in Camden, New Jersey. One of his most memorable accomplishments was a project to record all the danzas of Juan Morel Campos, one of Puerto Rico’s most famous composers of the 19th century.

All his life Sanromá followed his musical inclinations and as long as his faculties allowed him, he was learning new pieces and re-studying the old repertory. In 1984 he went to the recording studios for the last time to interpret the music of the famous Puerto Rican danza composer, Manuel Gregorio Tavárez. Sanromá passed away on 12 October 1984.

Discography

Jesus Maria Sanromá Vol 2 (2001)

Piano Masters: Jesus Maria Sanromá (2000)

Gershwin: Concerto in F; Rhapsody in Blue (1999)

Grofe - Grand Canyon Suite (1997)

Heifetz Collection Vol. 4 (1939-1946) (1997)

The Primrose Quartet (1995)

Stravinsky: Apollon musagète (1993)

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