José Ignacio Quintón

José Ignacio Quintón

Pianist and composer, mainly of Puerto Rican danzas. He was interested in composing purified versions of this musical genre with the intention of raising it to the higher level of concert music.

José Ignacio Quintón was born on February 1, 1881, in Caguas and was raised in Coamo, where he lived from the time he was two years old. His principal educator was his father, Juan Bautista Quintón y Luzón, a French composer who had studied at the Paris Conservatory of Music and was also the organist at the Catholic church in Coamo. Later, he studied under the tutelage of Catalan pianist and composer Ernesto del Castillo.

Quintón was mostly self taught. He studied the pieces by the great composers of the era through books and music magazines. He was adept at playing the piano, but he also played the cuatro, guitar, mandolin, viola, violin and cello. He performed his first concert when he was just nine years old. In 1893, he accompanied Cuban violinist Brindis de Salas on the piano when de Salas performed on the island. He also taught various musical instruments and was the director of school bands.

In 1914, Quintón created the Coamo Municipal Band and later replaced his father as organist at the Coamo parish church. He was also part of several musical groups and founded two of them: Arte y Amor in 1911 and the Quintón Quartet in 1920.

According to composer Amaury Veray, “there is, in the work of José Ignacio Quintón, a notable interest in breaking the traditional barriers of Puerto Rican music. His work reveals the maturity of an artist who understands the musical form. It shows harmonic possibilities never before heard in Puerto Rico. His musical syntax is rich, complex and based on classical music. However, it flows with spontaneity.”

Quintón`s first compositions were danzas, among them Amor imposible, Confía and Mi estrella. Among his musical compositions are Danza de concierto, Carlota, Adelaida, Ausente, La coquetona, Cuando me miras, ¿Qué se figura usted?, El pipiol, Quiquiriñama and the series Danzas de Concierto. One of his most popular danzas is El coquí, in which he imitates the song of this small frog.

He was not just a composer of danzas. He also wrote waltzes, nocturnes, masses and works in other genres. Among his most notable pieces are Cuarteto para instrumentos de cuerda, Cuarteto en re mayor, Variaciones sobre un tema de Hummel, Nocturno en mi bemol, Gran obertura de concierto, Romanza and Marcha triunfal. He also composed two trios – one for piano, violin and cello, and another for piano, flute and violin – and various masses, the most outstanding of which is Misa de Requiem, a posthumous homage to Puerto Rican composer Angel Mislán.

Quintón died December 19, 1925, in his home town of Coamo, where he lived his entire life and where he is buried.

Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 03, 2014.

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