Félix Astol Artés
Fèlix Astol i Artés was born in Reus, in Catalonia, region of Spain in October 9, 1813, but he moved to Cuba in 1828 to evading military service. Forced to enlist, he joined the band of one of the battalions based in Havana. Once he graduated, he found employment doing tenor roles in an opera company that made its performances at the Teatro Tacón (Tacón Theatre). He toured in Puerto Rico by 1840, then returned to Cuba, where he lived. Later he joined the opera company of Stefano Busatti, that finally led him to Puerto Rico in 1860. When the company disappeared he moved to Mayagüez. In Mayagüez he founded a new company of comedies: Compañía Dramática Astol (The Astol Drama Company).Fèlix Astol, was author of several pieces of popular music, but his most famous work was the dance Bellísima trigueña (Georgeus brunette), composed in 1867. Conceived as a love song, it has had several versions throughout Latin America. In Cuba had the title of Mi amor (My love). In Brazil it was named Encantadora infancia (Lovely childhood). In Peru has two versions, one of them is named Bellísima peruana (Georgeus Peruvian). In Haiti is danced and in Venezuela is well known too. But the most popular version is "La Borinqueña", adopted as the official anthem of Puerto Rico.
The revolutionary lyrics written by Lola Rodíguez de Tió a year after the composition of the danza, became the popular anthem. It was a time of great turbulence in Puerto Rico, as a nationalist revolution against Spain was sweeping across the political landscape. The lyrics were in keeping with that spirit.
However, the lyrics known and sung today are attributed to Manuel Fernández Juncos per the request of the new Commonwealth, as Lola's were yet again deemed too revolutionary.
He died in Mayagüez in January 21, 1901.
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