A history of the University of Puerto Rico Department of Music: 1965–2011
Aponte-Gonzalez, Maria Pilar
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This study seeks to fill a knowledge gap on the history of the University of Puerto Rico Department of Music (UPRDM). With no recorded past and an uncertain future, this historical account and analysis of the UPRDM assesses the relevance of its contributions to the UPR and Puerto Rico from its founding in 1965 to the end of the UPR Strike of 2010-2011, considering how colonialism framed its historical development. The UPRDM has played a vital role shaping public music education and research and has fostered innovative musical endeavors that have transformed Puerto Rican concert life. However, throughout the past decade, recurrent budget cuts; changes in cultural politics; continuous local and federal government intervention in administrative and academic matters, and strict austerity measures enacted since 2010, have brought the UPRDM face to face with a threat of permanent closure. This historical narrative traces the development of the UPRDM from 1965–2011, with a focus on facilities, curriculum, music ensembles, musical activities, and departmental leadership. It also addresses the contributions of the UPRDM community to Puerto Rican music and analyzes the extent to which colonialism and cultural politics in Puerto Rico influenced the historical development of the UPRDM between 1965–2011. Historical methods and techniques and interview procedures were employed for the data collection, analysis, and reporting of this history. Findings showed that the UPRDM community has been an active contributor to Puerto Rican music and music education over the decades and that changing cultural politics, and the direct intervention of local and federal government politics in fiscal and administrative matters at the University of Puerto Rico, have challenged the development of the UPRDM. Through this study, contemporary problems of public higher music education in Puerto Rico are addressed from a historical perspective.