Rexach, Sylvia (1922–1961)

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Rexach, Sylvia (1922–1961)

Puerto Rican composer who wrote such songs as "Y Entonces" and "Ola y Arena" that helped elevate Latin American music. Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, on January 20, 1922; died in Santurce on October 20, 1961; children: Sharon.

Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1922, Sylvia Rexach played both the piano and the guitar, though she was not formally trained. Her first composition, "Idilio" ("Idyll"), was recorded by the Rafael Muñoz orchestra and sold well. Rexach worked to lend dignity to pop music with such songs as "Y Entonces" ("And Then"), "Alma Adrentro" ("Deep in the Soul"), "Quisiera Ser" ("I Wish to Be"), and "Anochecer" ("Dusk"). "Ola y Arena" ("Surf and Sand") became popular after her death.

Rexach was a founding member and secretary general of the Puerto Rican Society of Writers, Composers, and Musical Editors. A theater in San Juan is named after her. She is credited in Puerto Rican Women as having "a poetic imagination and a deep philosophical vein," and with exhibiting courage, humor, and optimism while facing impoverishment and cancer. Rexach died on October 20, 1961, in Santurce.


Votaw, Carmen Delgado. Puerto Rican Women. Washington, DC: National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, 1995.

Kari Bethel , freelance writer, Columbia, Missouri