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Rizal as musician

Jose Rizal is known for his excellence in fields such as science/medicine, literature, and art, among others. However, Rizal’s musical inclination is perhaps not known by many.

According to Mrs. Asuncion Bantug, Rizal’s grandniece, “among the arts, music was Rizal’s first love.” However, music did not come easily to him. His contemporary, Dr. Galicano Apacible, recalled that “He even found it hard to hum or whistle a simple melody. Whenever he did it, the melody turned out to be so out of tune.” But determined to excel in music, Rizal studied how to play the flute and practiced hard. He also took up solfeggio, piano, and voice culture.

Rizal was not deemed as an excellent flutist or singer but he went on with his musical inclinations by composing his own songs. Most of the songs were his poems that were set to music. His popular novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo also contained several passages and references concerning music.

Among his known compositions are Kundiman ni Rizal, Alin Mang Lahi and Leonor.

Sources:

Kundiman ni Rizal (1997). Tawid Publications
Rubio, H. (1978). Filipino heritage: the making of a nation. Manila : Lahing Pilipino Publishing.

Photo:

Jose Rizal with fellow students (musicians, fencers and gymnasts) at Intramuros boarding house (ca. 1880)
(From the Retrato collection)