Jesús Figueroa Iriarte


Jesús Figueroa was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, on April 17th of 1878. His parents, Carmelo Figueroa and Carmen Iriarte were his first music teachers. He became an orphan at an early age but continued his musical studies with his uncle, José Lequerica. He used to play clarinet and flute in the municipal bands. In one occasion he played for Juan Morel Campos and he gave Jesús music so that he could learn and continue playing. Jesús learned to write for concert bands and he was the first to include a piano as part of the instruments of a concert band.

The year 1898 left a profound impression on Jesús Figueroa's heart. The Spanish-American war established the change from Spanish to United States sovereignty. In order to express the feeling of sadness and anxiety, Jesús wrote the Puerto Rican danza named "La Nueva Era" (The New Era). The main characteristic of the melody in this danza is that Jesús inserted into the main theme the US National Anthem.

In 1903 he marries pianist Carmen Sanabia Von Ellinger and they went to live in San Sebastian where Jesús was named director of the municipal band. In 1908 they moved to San Juan and then to Río Piedras where Jesús was named director of the municipal band and organized the first Symphony Orchestra playing symphonic works and premiering various violin and piano concertos performed by his children José (violinist), Kachiro (violinist) and Narciso (pianist).

Jesús was the teacher of all his children and was a founder of the "Academia de Musica Figueroa". In 1950 he was named director of the Free School of Music in San Juan where he had the opportunity to collaborate in the development of the musical education in Puerto Rico.

Main Menu ||| Biography Section