Lucrecia Roces Kasilag

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Lucrecia Roces

Lucrecia Roces Kasilag (31 August 1917 - 16 August 2008)[1] was a Filipino composer and pianist.

Early life[edit]

Lucrecia Roces Kasilag was born in San Fernando, La Union, Philippines, the third of the six children of Marcial Kasilag, Sr., a civil engineer, and his wife Asuncion Roces Kasilag, a violinist and a violin teacher.[2]:87–88 She was the first solfeggio teacher of Kasilag. The second teacher of Kasilag was Doña Concha Cuervo, who was a strict Spanish woman. Afterwards, Kasilag studied under Doña Pura Villanueva. It was during this time that Kasilag performed her first public piece, Felix Mendelssohn's May Breezes, at a student recital when she was ten years old.[2]

Kasilag grew up in Paco, Manila, where she was educated at Paco Elementary School and graduated valedictorian in 1930. She then transferred to Philippine Women's University for high school, where in 1933 she also graduated as valedictorian. For college, she graduated cum laude in 1936 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, in the same university. She also studied music at St. Scholastica’s College in Malate, Manila, with Sister Baptista Battig, graduating with a Music Teacher's Diploma, major in piano, in 1939.[2]:89[3]


During World War II, she took up composition, and on 1 December 1945, she performed her own compositions in a concert at Philippine Women's University. From 1946 to 1947, Kasilag taught at the University of the Philippines’ Conservatory of Music and worked as secretary-registrar at Philippines Women's University.

She completed a Bachelor of Music degree in 1949, and then attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, studying theory with Allen I. McHose and composition with Wayne Barlow. Kasilag returned to the Philippines, and in 1953 she was appointed Dean of the Philippines Women's University College of Music and Fine Arts.[4]

After completing her studies, Kasilag made an international tour as a concert pianist, but eventually had to give up a performing career due to a congenital weakness in one hand.

Kasilag was instrumental in developing Philippine music and culture. She founded the Bayanihan Folks Arts Center for research and theatrical presentations, and was closely involved with the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company.[5]

She was also a former president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, head of the Asian Composers League, Chairperson of the Philippine Society for Music Education, and was one of the pioneers of the Bayanihan Dance Company. She is credited for having written more than 200 musical compositions, ranging from folksongs to opera to orchestral works, and was composing up to the year before she died, at age 90.

She is particularly known for incorporating indigenous Filipino instruments into orchestral productions.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • Honorary Doctor of Music from Centro Escolar University, 1975
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws from the Philippine Women’s University, 1980
  • Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from St. John’s University in New York, 1981
  • National Artist in the Philippines, 1989


  1. ^ Tariman, Pablo A. (2008). "Lucrecia Kasilag, grand dame of RP music, dies at 90". Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Samson, Helen (1976). Contemporary Filipino Composers. Quezon City: Manlapaz Publishing Company. 
  3. ^ Dees, Pamela Youngdahl (2004). A Guide to Piano Music by Women Composers: Women born after 1900. 
  4. ^ Salido, Caroline Besana (2001). "The Piano Compositional Style of Lucrecia Roces Kasilag". Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  5. ^ Filipino women in nation building: a compilation. 1984.