He graduated as a teacher from the University of Puerto Rico when he was only 16 years old. Spending the next five years teaching in various rural towns in the southeastern corner of the island. After a short stint of only one year, working in the sugar mill in the nearby island of Vieques, he was called to military duty in 1918, with the United States Army. He served in a clerical position. He was 24 years old when he was discharged from the army and then worked in a variety of jobs for 2 years.
Flores next embarked on new phase in his life by moving to New York City. A phase that would ultimately bear the fruit of his musical genius and bring him lasting fame. The beginning of this stage in his life had an inauspicious beginning; working at a series of odd, mostly menial jobs until 1928. At that time he had a fateful encounter with another Puerto Rican, the now equally famous singer, Rafael Hernández.
The association with Hernández and the singer’s circle of friends; mostly musicians, provided an outlet and sparked a creative expression that produced scores of now classic songs. Songs that ran the gamut of universal themes, from separation from a loved one as in “Despedida” (lyrics), a lost love as in “Linda”, and patriotism as in “Sin bandera”, as well as countless others.
Flores’ friendship with Hernández was deep, but not without a competitive component. Each artist working to produce the best and most popular song. In fact, Hernández was envious of Flores for the beauty of “Sin bandera”. It prompted Hernández to write his famous song “Preciosa”; a fitting tribute to his friendly rival Flores, who inspired his effort. The rivalry led Flores to form a band to compete with Hernández’ Trio Borinquen. In turn, Hernández accused Flores of jealousy, which prompted Flores to compose a flurry of songs in just one week, including such memorable hits as “Sueño de amor”, “Quejas del alma” and “Abandono”.
Flores organized the Flores Quartet which began recording his songs by 1930. Other musicians were later added although the name of the group retained the term quartet. But Flores had problems with the music publishing company and abandoned the quartet to go to Mexico. He also lived for some time in Cuba but this period was marked by little success and even a retreat from the musical world. Flores eventually returned to New York and organized a new quartet with an assortment of very talented people, including singer Daniel Santos.
Flores is remembered by many of the most beautiful ballads ever produced by Puerto Rico’s native sons. Among them: “Perdón” (lyrics), “Esperanza inútil” (lyrics), “Bajo un palmar” (lyrics), “Amor”, “Margie”, “Querube”, Obsesión, (lyrics) and “Linda”. These and others have been interpreted by many artists and have found their way to the very core of the Puerto Rican spirit.
Don Pedro Flores died in July, 1979.
Grandes Compositores, Vol. 2 (1994)