Duchesne Mondriguez, Rafael

Danza composer Rafael Duchesne Mondriguez was born 15 May 1890 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Son of teachers; his father teaching music, Duchesne was orphaned when he was 10 years old.

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Duchesne later followed in his father’s footsteps, studying music at the Boys Charity School in Santurce. By the age of 16, Duchesne returned to his hometown and joined a dance band, effectively starting his musical career playing clarinet and directing.

In 1917 Duchesne was awarded the position of soloist in the band of the US Army’s 369th Regiment, in New York. He later returned to Puerto Rico to join the Symphony Orchestra and other music groups.

Some years later, in 1940, Duchesne was musical director of the Orchestra of the Blind. After World War II, he took the post of Instructor at the Free Music School, which he held until his retirement in 1955.

However, Duchesne continued to work, composing hymns, marches, danzas and a classical style works including an overture and a symphony. But his love was for the native danza. Beginning in 1928, he regularly submitted his works to the competitions sponsored by the Círculo de Recreo de San Germán and the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. In 1981, he was recognized for his valuable contributions, when the Institute inducted Duschesne into the Puerto Rican Danza Composer’s Hall of Fame, alongside other great danza composers such Juan Morel Campos and Manuel Gregorio Tavarez.

Some of Duchesne’s danza compositions were released in a recording produced by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, including such notable works as “No era amor”, “Bandera de flores”, “Así es mi amor” and “La quiquiriquí”.

Duchesne died on 22 Febuary 1986.

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