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Juan F. Acosta de Arce

Gladys Pena

Born: San Sebastian, Puerto Rico

Grandfather: Juan F. Acosta de Arce
Born: San Sebastian

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The house was always full of people. It was full of my cousins. There were about ten of us in this house. And my grandfather had a routine. His daily routine was that he would get up very early in the morning and get dressed up in his suit and hat, white hat, and go out and buy pan and queso and come back and he'd make cafe con leche for all of us and we would have our usual cafe con leche y queso in the morning and he would then go ahead and do his work. What it meant was that he would go to one of his pianos, the piano that he used for composing and he would spend most of the morning composing his pieces -- toquiando. And I remember him -- it was really wonderful to hear him imitate each different instrument, come up with new sounds.

I remember him working en el escritorio with these beautiful pens that he used. That once he got his composition, he would sit down and decorate the borders of each paper, of each music sheet, and go ahead and then write his compositions very carefully with pens that sometimes he had made especially to do this writing. Later in the afternoon, after lunch, he would be visited by his students -- he would hold, actually composers and students would come to see him. Composers would come or musicians would come to see him so that he would look at their music and he would do the arrangements or rewrite sections for them. He was always willing to do that with anyone. He had numerous composers.

I remember members of the Gran Combo coming to my grandfather and talking to him about different compositions. His students would come later in the afternoon and he would give them a lesson. He was very strict with them about -- If he thought they weren't studying enough or rehearsing enough, he would easily drop them. But they were very respectful of him. And there was a respect for his music that he generated and they were very disciplined and self -- they valued his instruction. Usually in the afternoon, after his sessions with his students, we would have dinner and then go to the plaza, walk around with my cousins. And it was always a place of music. It was a town where the music was always being played, at any given moment, and my family was always very much involved in that.

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