November 07, 2009

Following the Spanish American War and the occupation of the island in 1898 by America, Puerto Rico experienced an economic and cultural crisis: Churches were in poverty, the exchange of currency caused a depression and markets for produce disappeared. Then a devastating hurricane caused widespread suffering. Puerto Ricans responded to these events with insecurity.

Where, then, were Puerto Ricans' cultural activities? Did they cease?

Where did they celebrate their musical traditions? In "Actividades Musicales en Puerto Rico" (published by Trafford Publishing) music historian Catherine Dower-Gold presents a survey of the 19th-century
musical traditions that did carry over into the 20th century. Because music of that era was not published, much of it may have disappeared without Dower's investigation. Her details of musical festivities, religious feast days, band concerts, public school programs and activities of the popular Puerto Rican composers of the day outline a rich musical tradition which many island author-musicians thought had declined during the era. With photos, musicians' manuscripts and documentation of the musical events, those interested in Puerto Rico and its music will be fascinated by Dower's account. This book is published in Spanish and is a new, updated edition of her 1983 book, "Puerto Rican Music Following the Spanish American War 1898-1910."

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