Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Dieter Hennings-Yeomans

Second Advisor

Dr. Noemi Lugo


Juan Francisco Acosta (1890-1968) was a prolific composer, band conductor, and educator from Puerto Rico who created 1,256 original compositions. Even though his activities and influence were integral to the musical life of Puerto Rico in the twentieth century, many details of his life and works remain unknown.

This project centers on Acosta’s contribution to the Puerto Rican tradition of the danza—a dance-based genre originating in the nineteenth centurythrough the study and arrangement of five of Acosta's danzas. Although Acosta composed most danzas for piano, he adapted them for performances by the municipal bands that he led in various towns. This practice of modifying his works for different instruments, as well as the importance of the guitar in Latin America, underpins the author’s choice to arrange his piano music for varied types of guitar combinations, including solo, duo, trio, and quartet. The five works are Bajo la sombra de un pino, Mercedes, Eres una santa, Dulce María, and In memoriam.

The guitar arrangements of these five danzas are preceded by important information on the composer within the Puerto Rican music world, with emphasis on the intersections of the band and danza traditions. To enhance the study of these works, this document discusses basic stylistic features, including a comparison of forms, rhythms, and dance characters, and relates Acosta's treatment of the danza puertorriqueña to approaches of his Puerto Rican contemporaries. This document also includes performance guidelines to introduce Acosta's danza style to student and professional players.

Based on primary biographical and musical sources, this study presents a foundation for a clearer understanding of the life and works of Acosta upon which further research, analysis, and criticism can be conducted. The arrangements offer a fresh look at new guitar repertoire using the peculiarities of rhythms and traditions of Puerto Rican and Carribean heritage. The arrangements also serve a pedagogical purpose by adding to the existing repertoire of ensemble music for the classical guitar.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)