Born in La Romana, Dominican Republic,Maestro Rafael “Bullumba” Landestoy is one of today’s most prominent Latin American composers, and one of the most prolific Dominican composers of the bolero. At a tribute concert in 2011, the Association of Dominican Classical Artists honored Maestro Landestoy for his extraordinary contributions to Dominican music.
Maestro Landestoy, affectionately and popularly known as “Bullumba,” has written more than 100 songs in the pop genre, gaining international recognition as a songwriter in the 1950s after escaping the Trujillo dictatorship and travelling to Mexico and Venezuela. His music has been performed and recorded by many great Latin American vocalists, most notably Celia Cruz, Toña la Negra, Alberto Beltrán, and Vicentico Valdés. During the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, the great Fernando Fernández immortalized his songs Carita de angel and Mi dulce querer as orchestrated by Chucho Zarzosa.
At the end of the 1950s, Maestro Landestoy moved to New York where he performed as a pianist with various musical groups, including the Lecuona Cuban Boys led by the great Ernesto Lecuona. He left for Puerto Rico in 1962 to join the San Antonio Abad Monastery and returned to New York City in 1977, where he has lived since.
In the past twenty years, Maestro Landestoy has focused his interest on the classical musical style, a passion he developed at the National Conservatory in Santo Domingo where he studied with Mary Siragusa. He has written 12 pieces for guitar, ten art songs for soprano and piano, and 30 piano pieces (three still unpublished). He composed the majority of his piano and guitar pieces at the San Antonio Abad Monastery in Humacao, Puerto Rico, where he began a spiritual journey in 1962. At the monastery, which is also a college, he taught piano, classical guitar, and composition.
Maestro Landestoy’s music is increasingly recognized in the United States. His pieces have been performed at Harmony Hall in Washington D.C., CAMI Hall, Steinway Hall, and Weill Recital Hall in New York City, and in numerous public schools and libraries in the Northeast. In addition, his piano music has been recorded by the world renowned pianist Martin Söderberg, and, more recently, by pianist Alexander A. Wu, who is recording his complete piano works. Much to Maestro Landestoy’s delight, his work is being recognized and performed today in his beloved Dominican Republic, notably by the great Dominican pianist, María de Fátima Geraldes, who is a professor at the National Conservatory of Santo Domingo and a champion of his music. In addition to her performances at the Teatro Nacional de Santo Domingo, Ms. Geraldes has also recorded a CD devoted exclusively to his piano music.
Maestro Landestoy’s work was also included in the CD entitled “Compositores Dominicanos.” In 2007, Maestro Landestoy was honored in the Dominican Republic at the invitation of President Leonel Fernández and First Lady Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, who describe the maestro as a “national treasure.” At a gala concert in his honor at the Teatro Nacional, the First Lady also marked the publication of Obras de piano, a book she commissioned to honor Maestro Landestoy. The book contains 27 compositions by Maestro Landestoy, compiled and edited by Ms. Geraldes.