Roberto Valera initiates its music studies in 1948 with professors Waldina Cortina, Ñola Sahig, José Ardévol, Edgardo Martín and Leo Brouwer in the Municipal Conservatory of Havana, where he also received singing lessons from soprano Zoila Gálvez in 1956. Valera was granted a scholarship from the Cuban government in 1965 to study in Poland with renowned composers Witold Rudzinski and Andrzej Dobrowolski. He also received a degree in education from the Escuela Normal para Maestros in Havana, and a PhD in pedagogy from the University of Havana.
At the request of composer Leo Brouwer, Roberto Valera worked from 1961 to 1965 as a musical advisor at the Instituto Cubano del Arte y la Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC), starting also a career as a film composer.
After returning from Poland, Valera was appointed as director of The Alejandro García Caturla Conservatory in Marianao, Havana, and in 1968 he became Head of Harmony and Contemporary Techniques at the National School of Arts Music School.
In 1976, Roberto Valera began a long term association with the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), serving as Dean and professor of composition, orchestration and contemporary techniques. He also founded the school’s Electroacoustic Music Studio.
Roberto Valera has composed an extensive catalog that includes music for soloists, chamber ensembles orchestra, and choir, as well as for numerous ballets, cartoons and films. Following a select list of Valeras works: The living composers project.
- Orchestral: Devenir, 1969; Concierto por la Paz, saxophone, orchestra, 1985; Extraplan, 1990; Yugo y estrella, 1995; Concierto de Cojimar, guitar, orchestra, 1998; Non divisi, string orchestra, 1999
- Chamber music: String Quartet, 1967; Tres Impertinencias, ensemble, 1971; Tierra de sol, cielo y tierra, ensemble, 1993; Glosas del tiempo recobrado, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 1994
- Choral: Ire a Santiago, mixed chorus, 1969; Cuatro Poemas de Nicolás Guillén, soprano, mixed chorus, orchestra, 2001
- Vocal: Conjuro, soprano, orchestra, 1968
- Piano: Doce Estudios Caribeños, 2002; Van Gogh's Blues Ear, 2002; Cuento Sonoro, 2004
- Electroacoustic: Ajiaco, tape, 1990; Palmas, tape, 1992; Periodo espacial, tape, 1993; Loa del camino, tape, 1999; Las Sombras no Abandonan, tape, 2000
Among many recognitions, Roberto Valera has received the following:
- First Prize, Competition of the Cuban Ministry of Culture, 1985 (for Concierto por la Paz)
- National Award, UNEAC, 1989 (for his entire oeuvre)
- The Alejo Carpentier Medal
- The Félix Varela Medal
- The National Culture Award of the Cuban Council of the State
- The Ministry of Higher Education has also awarded him for his contribution to Cuban education
Other honors include
- The Basse Terre Medal in Guadeloupe
- The José Maria Heredia Medal of the province of Santiago (Cuba)
- The Karol Szymanowski Medal of the Polish Ministry of Art and Culture
- The living composers project. Roberto Valera. http://www.composers21.com/compdocs/valerar.htm
- Roberto Valera. EcuRed. http://www.ecured.cu/index.php/Roberto_Valera
- Sonidos de las Americas: Cuba – Artists and composers. http://www.americancomposers.org/cubabios.htm#VALERA
- Orovio, Helio. Cuban music from A to Z. Tumi Music Ltd. Bath, UK. 2004. P.222.
YouTube. Coralina: Iré a Santiago by Roberto Valera. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vASXqSS-LEA
YouTube. La lenta noche en tus ojos by Roberto Valera. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k7FUAhysts