Singing in Spanish #3

Perfume de Gardenias,
There’s an incredibly rich story behind this song,
Or more accurately stated, by it’s composer,
Rafael Hernández Marín of Aguadilla,
Puerto Rico 1892 – 1965.
I suggest going to the song to listen while you read this post.

 

At age 12 Rafael studied music in San Juan
His teachers, Jose Ruellan Lequenica and Jesus Figueroa.
His instruments, clarinet, violin, piano, guitar and tuba
But it was his learning to compose music
That would bring him to the forefront of the world music scene.
All of this began as early as 1917,
Almost 100 years ago when he and his brother
Were recruited into the
The Orchestra Europe –
Led by James Reese Europe, bandleader, U.S. Army.
The orchestra was assigned to an army regiment,
Nicknamed by the Germans ‘The Harlem Hellfighters’.

After the war, In the 1920’s, in New York City,
He formed the Trio Borinanco, which Pedro Flores,
An untrained musician, but famous in his own right,
Pedro wrote
Sin Banderas and other songs
Which I won’t go into here.
He left  the trio for his own career,
But remained friends, in competition,
With Rafael, for life.

When Trio Borinanco broke up
He formed Cuarteto Victoria (named after his sister)
With singer Myrta Silva and traveled all over the U.S.
1927, Victoria opened a Puerto Rican music store,
Sold their records and set up bookings for them.

A few years later, he moved to Mexico City
Where he and his work was widely accepted and loved.
Now, you can see where the cross cultural, Latin music connections
Begin to take shape here in Mexico.
His career just rolls from here,
Directing an orchestra in Mexico City,
Enrollment in Mexican National Music Conservatory
Becoming an Actor,
Composing music for movies,
Then returning to Puerto Rico
As director of the Puerto Rican Symphony Orchestra,
To later become musical advisor to the government,
Honorary President of the Authors and Composers Association,
Named Mr. Cumbanchero, by President John F. Kennedy.
After his death in 1965 he became widely honored
With his name on buildings,
His music in documentaries,
Perhaps more importantly,
His songs are still sung all over the world.

His composing crosses many styles of music
Beginning with his famous boleros,
Waltzes
Danzas
Zarzuelas
Lullibies
Patriotic music
The list goes on
Along with the list of songs,
Preciosa, considered his masterpiece
Lameno Borinanco
Camanitas de Cristal
Culpable
El Cumbanchero
Ese soy yo
Silencio…..

 

There are so many more songs
Which you can still purchase
Including Perfume de Gardenias
Whose translation is below,
Along with the movie to sing along with – Click Here
Sung by Cuarteto Reguales, San Miguel Allende 2009

The Lyrics:
Perfume de gardenias
……The scent of gardenias
Tiene tu boca
……has your mouth
Bellísimos destellos
……Beautiful flashes
De luz en tu mirar
……Of light in your look
Tu risa es una rima
……Your smile is a rhyme
De alegres notas
……of lively notes
Se mueven tus cabellos
……They move your hair
Cual ondas en la mar
……Which waves in the sea

Tu cuerpo es una copia
……Your body is a copy
De Venus, de Cibeles
……Of Venus Cybele
Que envidian las mujeres
.…..Which women envy
Cuando te ven pasar
……When they see you pass

Y llevas en tu alma
……And you carry in your soul
La virginal pureza
……A virginal purity
Por eso es tu belleza
.…..That is your beauty
De un místico candor
……Of a mystical candor

Perfume de gardenias
……The scent of gardenias
Tienes tu boca
……Has your mouth
Perfume de gardenias
……The scent of gardenias
Perfume del amor
……Scent of love

Tu cuerpo es una copia
……Your body is a copy
De Venus, de Cibeles
……Of Venus Cybele
Que envidian las mujeres
……That women envy
Cuando te ven pasar
……When you pass by

Y llevas en tu alma
……Your bring in your soul
La virginal pureza
……A virginal purity
Por eso es tu belleza
……For this is your beauty
De un místico candor
……Of a mystical candor

Perfume de gardenias
……The scent of gardenias
Tienes tu boca
……Has your mouth
Perfume de gardenias
……The scent of gardenias
Perfume del amor
……Scent of love

© Suzanne da Rosa 2009



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