Cuban bolero giant César Portillo de la Luz dies at 90

 

Cuban musician César Portillo de la Luz, one of Cuba’s most celebrated composers, died Saturday in Havana, according to various press reports on the island. He was 90.

Portillo’s Spanish songs such as “Contigo en la distancia” y “Tú mi delirio” were known internationally and various interpretations were performed by some of the world’s most popular artists, including Nat King Cole, Pedro Infante, José José, Lucho Gatica, Luis Miguel, Plácido Domingo, Caetano Veloso and Christina Aguilera.

His cause of death was not reported by Cuba’s offical press. The state-run National News Agency (AIN) said that the musician's body will be cremated, as per Portillo’s wishes. A memorial service is scheduled for Monday at a funeral home in Havana.

"His work as a composer enriched the legacy of Cuban music and universal songwriting,” AIN reported.

Considered a fundamental author of Latin American music, Portillo was one of Cuba’s most prolific composers and a giant in the bolero genre. He, along with other Cuban musicians like Jose Antonio Mendez, was founder of the musical movement called "filin" -- a Spanglish term for the English word "feeling" -- which renewed the bolero genre in the 1950s by incorporating harmonic and melodic elements used in jazz.

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