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Pucho Diaz Valera, a talented pianist
Mr. Pucho Diaz Valera at London Hilton
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He has played and composed boleros with the best Cuban singers for the last 50 years
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Although his mother was a music teacher, Pucho is autodidact
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London Hilton Hotel, United Kingdom November 2002
During two weeks, the London Hilton Hotel welcomed Cuban musicians and among them, Mr. Edgar Diaz Valera, who is a talented pianist known as “Pucho”.As an experienced man, he has known the evolution of the Cuban music in the last fifty years and participated in its worldwide promotion. Here is a brief summary of his exceptional carreer.

In the 50’s, you couldn’t really make a living of music, especially in the area where he lived, the province of Guantanamo, in the East of Cuba. That is the reason why he decided to move to Havana. In 1959, the revolution triumphed in Cuba and from the beginning, the new government supported music. They increased the salary of musicians and created music schools, universities and associations. The ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte) was created to promote and support the development of music. Thanks to all these incentives, the music grew rapidly, the influences coming mostly from Argentina or Mexico. Since that period several generations of quality musicians have been keeping traditional Cuban rhythms alive. And now Cuban music has crossed frontiers and is appreciated all around the world. Cuban artists even participate in the Grammy awards.
In “Pucho”’s opinion, one of the people who have helped most in the promotion of Cuban music was Ernesto Lecuona, pianist from the first part of the 20th century, who performed in several countries and wrote film soundtracks in the 40’s. Another of his favorite artists is Helio Orovio, musician and author of the album “300 Boleros de oro” and a Dictionary of Cuban Music.

“Puchito” has been playing the piano since he was a child. Although his mother was a music teacher, he never wanted to take courses and preferred to play in an autodidact way. He composed boleros for famous Cuban singers like Celeste Mendoza, Pacho Alonso, Benny More and Lucrecia. After graduating from High school, he went to college and worked at the same time for a radio station in Havana as a pianist. He had started studying to become a vet, but then switched to diplomatic law. Then he began a successful international career, working for the Cuban government. From 1962 to 1964, he was put in charge of culture in the Cuban Ambassy in Hanoi, Vietnam. Upon his return to Cuba, he worked for the Foreign Ministry, from 1965 to 1970. He was then a cultural advisor for the Cuban Embassy in Japan during a five year period. During his stay, he got interested in some local music and several of his compositions were inspired by Asian sounds. He composed, among others, “Fantasia de Halone”, “Watachi”, “Nieve del lejano oriente”, “Nostalgia 1” and “Nostalgia 2”. Back in Cuba, he also worked as a journalist for the Foreign Ministry and for the Cuban Institute of Music, composing, promoting concerts as well as writing reviews about music and new groups for the Cuban newspaper ‘Granma’. He is now working for “Radio Rebelde” and “Radio Progreso”. With the time he has left he plays the piano at the “Rincon del Bolero” of the leisure center “Dos gardenias” in Miramar. As a pianist, he has been participating in jazz festivals in Angola, Panama, Japan, Spain, Monte Carlo, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Italy and Portugal.

His favorite music styles remain “Bolero” and “Son” but, as a music lover, he is interested in all Cuban styles.
by Isabelle Soares, cuba heritage .com
Article ID 649
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