Cesar Portillo de la Luz Dies at 90

Author of “Contigo en  la distancia” and many famous boleros

Dariela Aquique

Cesar Portillo de la Luz. Photo: bohemia.cu

HAVANA TIMES – Today one of the most prolific Cuban composers of the twentieth century will not see the light of day. The master Cesar Portillo de la Luz, musician and singer, is probably the most sung both on the island and abroad.

Born in Havana in 1922, always accompanied by his guitar and a talent that preceded him, his texts are known for their great poetic elaboration, their broad sense of harmony and richness of their melodic lines.

He was one of the initiators of a genre that brought new expressive elements to Cuban trova, establishing a realistic dialogue with the public through the emotion of the bolero.

Dubbed Feeling, for the meaning of this word in English, this musical movement was founded along with José Antonio Méndez and other composers such as Nico Rojas, Rosendo Ruiz, Aida Right and Elena Burke.

Since the second half of the 1940s, the songs of Portillo de la Luz, transgressed the boundaries of the famous nightclubs and cabarets of the capital as the Sans-Souci and the Pico Blanco to be used in film and recordings in several countries.

Famous figures such as Nat King Cole, Placido Domingo, Pedro Vargas, Armando Manzanero, Lucho Gatica, Luis Mariano, Fernando Fernández, Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethania, Luis Miguel, Christina Aguilera and the London Symphony Orchestra performed his songs.

His extensive work as author has unquestionably enriched the heritage of Cuban song. Several generations have known and loved his ballads.

Committed to his time and to his country, Portillo de la Luz was one of those who never left Cuba. Considered a dilettante, he noted … poetry would come to me as a code without me noticing it.

At the age of 90, on the morning of May 4, the author of “Contigo en la distancia” and “Tu mi delirio”, songs that have more than 100 versions worldwide, died in his native Havana. Today he rests in peace.