Cortés studied with Henry Cowell, Richard Donovan, Ingolf Dahl, Vittorio Giannini, Roger Sessions, Halsey Stevens, and, in Rome on a Fulbright Fellowship, with Goffredo Petrassi. He worked for a brief period in the 1960s as a computer programmer, and then taught composition at the University of California, Los Angeles (1966–67), University of Southern California (1967–72), and the University of Utah (1972–84).
Works (selective list)
- Piano Sonata no. 1 (1954)
- Sinfonia sacra (1954/59)
- Chamber Concerto for Cello and 12 Winds (1957–58/78)
- Prometheus, opera, after Aeschylus (1960)
- String Quartet no. 1 (1962)
- Three Movements for Five Winds, for wind quintet (1967–68)
- Rêve parisien (text: Baudelaire), for soprano and string quartet (1971–72)
- Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1975)
- Piano Sonata no. 3 (1979)
- String Quartet no. 2 (1983)
- Music for Strings (1983)
- Hitchcock, H. Wiley and Michael Meckna. "Cortés, Ramiro". Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 28 June 2007), <http://www.grovemusic.com> (subscription access)
- Pitt, Roland Charles. 1990. "The Piano Music of Ramiro Cortés." DMA Dissertation. Austin: University of Texas.