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Rivera, Tomás “Maso”

One of Puerto Rico’s greatest composers and musicians, Don Tomás “Maso” Rivera was born on 13 November 1927, in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. Rivera was a child music prodigy who went on to compose over 1,000 instrumental compositions for the cuatro, among which he treasured the danzas “A mi madre” and “Flor de Oriente”. The waltz “Peregrinos de la Paz” was also one of this favorites.

The legendary master of the Puerto Rican cuatro constructed his first guitar at age 9. He created other innovative designs of string instruments, which he later used in his performances and recordings. His most popular creation was a cuatro he assembled with the addition of a baseball bat given to him by the late Hall of Fame baseball star, Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente, upon Clemente’s untimely death in a plane crash. He called the instrument ‘bate cuatro’ (bat cuatro).

When drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, the young Rivera packed his cuatro in his duffle bag to play for his fellow soldiers. After his tour of duty with the army, he toured the world as a goodwill ambassador for Puerto Rico’s folkloric music. Rivera dedicated most of his life to preserving the cultural beauty of his homeland.

His music contributions were primarily in the fields of jibaro music and other typical genres from Puerto Rican, yet he also interpreted with equal dexterity, most of the other Afro-Caribbean and Latin American genres popular in the last few decades. When talking about the Puerto Rican seis, the decima, and pasillos, Maso Rivera’s name is invariably mentioned.

The artist passed away on 4 February 2001, at the age of 73, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Discography

Rayando con Maso (2000)

El Rey del Cuatro (2000)

Maso y el Coquí (----)

Lo Mejor de Maso Rivera (----)

El Sueño del Maestro (----)

60 Años de Música y Arte (----)

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