Amaury Veray and Sylvia Rexach at his left

Amaury Veray and Sylvia Rexach at his left

Amaury Veary was a contemporary pianist and composer who, along with Héctor Campos Parsi and Jack Delano, founded the Puerto Rican nationalist school. He was also a musicologist and a professor of musical theory.

He was born on June 14, 1922, in the municipality of Yauco, the son of Francisco Veray Marín and Margarita Torregrosa. He completed his primary studies in his hometown; and received his first music lessons from Olimpia Morel, daughter of the composer Juan Morel Campos. He later studied with Emilio Bacó Pasarell. At seventeen years of age, he composed his first musical pieces, titled Canción de cuna and Estampa fúnebre.

He moved to Río Piedras to study at the University of Puerto Rico, where he completed his bachelor of arts degree with a specialization in modern languages in 1943. During his years as a university student, he taught a music appreciation class for adults at the Rafael M. Labra School in Santurce.

The chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico, Jaime Benítez, awarded him a scholarship to study music at the Longy School of Music in New England, studies he was forced to postpone when he was drafted into the United States Army. Later, he returned to the institution to continue his studies in theory and composition of contemporary music, which he completed in 1949.

He returned to Puerto Rico, where he first worked as a music professor at Ponce High School, as well as director of the chorus at Catholic University of Ponce. In 1950, along with Héctor Campos Parsi and Luis Antonio Ramírez, he outlined the principles of a collaborative musical movement committed to the Puerto Rican culture and folklore, which later became known as Puerto Rican musical nationalism.

From 1952 to 1956, he worked as a composer for the Community Education Division (DIVEDCO, for its initials in Spanish), ascribed to the Department of Public Instruction. During this period, he composed music for a large number of the films produced by DIVEDCO, including Pedacito de tierra (1952), El puente (1954), Doña Julia (1955), El de los cuatro cabos blancos (1957), and others.

From 1953 to 1956 he also served as the first president of the music section of the Puerto Rican Athenaeum. It was during this time that he created one of his most outstanding compositions, which is popular for Christmas concerts, El villancico yaucano (1953), in which he combines European forms with an original island flavor.

In 1956, he won the Pablo Casals Scholarship from the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture to study at the Santa Cecilia National Academy in Italy. There he studied composition under the tutelage of Ildebrando Pizzetti, an Italian composer who specialized in incidental music, which is music for the theatrical works with dark, neo-classical themes.

Pizzetti’s musical style markedly influenced the later compositions by Veray, which is evident in his compositions Fantasía para orquesta (1965), Profundis (1970), El jolgorio en la jacana (1971) and Dípticos (1972), as well as his religious work, Oda Seráfica a San Francisco de Asís (1972). He sought to combine national and patriotic elements with European structures, sometimes in a sad or anguished tone, and other times happy and fun. He was inspired to create a variant of symphonic or cultured music.

In 1969, he joined the faculty of the recently inaugurated Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, where he taught courses on theory and composition and the history of music. Later, he was director of the department of theory and composition of the institution.

As a researcher and historian of Puerto Rican music, he wrote a large number of articles, among which are “Tavárez y el estilo elástico” (1954), “Presentación de José Ignacio Quintón” (1960), “La obra pianística” (1960), “La misión pedagógica de José Enrique Pedreira” (1960), “Monsita Ferrer”(1962), “Sonatina puertorriqueña para canto” (1962), “Esperanza” (1962) and “Fernando Callejo Ferrer” (1962). He also wrote the script for the short film Elisa Tavárez (1956), which shows the distinguished concert pianist with his students.

Some of his classical compositions are El niño de Aguadilla (1954), Sonata para violín y piano (1959), Canto a Filí Melé (1959) and the ballets La Encantada (1957) and Cuando las mujeres (1957). The latter is based on the plena by Manuel Jiménez. He composed music for the theatrical works La carreta by René Marqués and Farsa de amor compartido by Luis Rafael Sánchez, among others.

He died in Río Piedras on October 30, 1995. He was buried at the municipal cemetery in Yauco, his hometown.

By the PROE Editorial Group

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

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