Dominican Composer Luis Kalaff Passes Away

Earlier today, Dominican composer Luis Kalaff died at age 94. Joseíto Mateo, who confirmed the information to, recalled his friendship with Kalaff, adding that he was “the most famous composer of Dominican Republic.” Six years ago both composers recorded an album entitled Los dos que quedan [The Two Remaining], referring to the fact that they were the only ones alive in their generation of musicians.

Kalaff was a versatile composer known for a varied repertoire of merengue, bolero, guaracha, salsa, cumbia, and Dominican folkloric music. A song that that gained him worldwide recognition was “Aunque me cueste la vida” [Though it May Cost Me My Life], recorded by Alberto Beltran with Cuba’s famous group Sonora Matancera. More recently, Julio Iglesias recorded Kalaff’s “A la orilla de la empalizá” [At the Edge of the Palisade]. Among his many awards, Kalaff won the prestigious Bobby Capo Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

For full article, see

Listen to two of Kalaff’s classic merengues, “La mala maña” and “A la orilla de la empalizá” here

20 thoughts on “Dominican Composer Luis Kalaff Passes Away

  1. Thank you for writing such a beautiful article on my father, Luis Kalaff.

    He was a wonderful father and enjoyed life to the fullest. I was not able to attend my father’s funeral in Dominican Republic, because my US passport had expired.

    I feel comfort in knowing his spirit is present with the lord. He is with my mother! He is in a much better life, and I will meet with them both one day.
    Maria Kalaff

    1. Dear Maria:
      You have our heartfelt sympathy. Your father’s work will bring joy to many for many years to come. It is a wonderful legacy and you must be so proud of him/

      1. Dear Lisa,
        thank you for such a beautiful comment on my father’s music.
        Do you work for repeating Islands? Have a wonderful day.
        Maria Kalaff

      2. Dear Maria:
        Ivette and I are the co-bloggers for Repeating Islands. We both love your father’s music and admire his invaluable contribution to Caribbean culture and sheer happiness. It is such a delight to hear his songs.

    2. Maria i just read the article about your dad cant believe it ive been trying to find you please contact me i need to talk to you

    3. Hi cousin,

      It has been ten years since Tio’s passing. I just happened to see this article today. Sending hugs to you and Paulina.❤️

  2. Dear María,
    Our deepest condolences. I was raised listening to all of these songs at home and your father’s songs bring many memories. . . I am sure that this is the case for so many people. He will be remembered forever.

    1. Dear Ivette,
      To know that you listened to his music growing up is so amazing.Please send me your address so I can send you a card. You can send it to my email.
      Thank you. Where are you located? I live in Birmingham, Alabama. My father’s children are all over the place. I was very close to him.
      I am a card designer, so I would like to send you a set of my cards.
      Maria Kalaff

  3. My Dear Friend Maria,

    You have my Heartfelt Sympathy.
    Your father’s music will always be a part of your life and others for many years to come and all to fully enjoy. I know you are very proud of him. He has left the music world a great legacy you can be so proud of, which will be a teaching tool for many generations to come.

    Love you always,


    1. Dear Marcia,
      I just received your blog. thank u for the beautiful message about my father.
      I also got back this week from NY. I took care of my dad’s apartment, etc.
      Yesterday made one month of my father’s passing. I am just pleased of all the respect he has received from som many places around the latin community and NYC.

      You are a special friend. Have a great day!
      Maria Kalaff

  4. Hola Maria, mi nombre es Susana Rios-Moore y dirijo el departamento de Servicios Creativos de Telemundo en NY. Aqui todos somos grandes admiradores de l amusica de tu Padre y precisamente esta semana , tendremos unpequeño homenaje a su vida en un especial sobre la republica Dominiicana. Entre las persona que entrevistamos para esto esta uno de tus hermanos.
    Estaba leyendo tu blog y veo que diseñas tarjetas y mi mensaje tiene como objetivo basico decirte que si en algun momento estas por esta area, estas invitada a participar en nuestro programa matutino Acceso Total, donde ,entre otras cosas, nos gusta retratar latinos y latinas que viven en este pais y que han encontrado su camino de diversas maneras. A diario tenemos artisitas de diferentes paises y tu presencia nos seria muy grata.
    Saludos .

    1. Dear Susana,
      Thank you for your beautiful message on my father. Yesterday made one month of his passing. I was in New York just last week, taking care of my father’s apartment and visiting family with my daughter, Paulina.

      Please send me your address to Telemundo NY, so that I can send you a set of my cards. I work for the Board of Education here in Birmingham, Alabama.
      My job at night is designing cards. My mother sewed beautiful, so I am left with only good memories of my parents. I am striving to become a card designer. I also have my cards with one of the best art galleries in Birmingham, Alabama. It is called Naked Art Gallery.

      I am now dedicating my time to larger pieces of art, such as big SHOES! ZAPATOS!
      Have a wonderful day!
      Maria Kalaff

  5. I am an accordion player from Holland and in the eighties I got a cassette tape from a friend with a merengue/salsa kind of song on it. In the chorus I heard Oh, la Nena, quieren quitar la Nena.
    I liked it very much and finally I recorded it twice.
    Sometimes musicians don’t play themselves, but they feel they get wings, the improvisation is going by itself. It was during the live recording of the song La Nena composed by Luis Kalaff (I found out later on, I collected your LPs and bought them in several countries of South America.) that this happened to me. And everytime I listen to it I can point out exactly where I got wings, it still evokes a very strong emotion. If you want to check: listen to the sample on my website, I still get goose skin at exactly 27 seconds. I could show you!!! Choose the version La Nena from the CD Petits Fours Frais.
    Thanks a lot Luis for your wonderful music right from the heart!.
    Jean-Pierre Guiran

  6. Hi, we are gonna set up a compilation with very rare and great music, give a new life to some forgotten tracks : Luis Kalaff´s “Agarralo Que Eso Es Tuyo ” is one of them. We need to get in contact with the right owners to make the deal. Please contact us if you have any idea and can help.

  7. Maria, I am sorry that I was not aware of the passing your father. He was a great man for many years and I the pleasure of meeting him in Washington ,DC years ago at program with Milly Quezada and Joseito Mateo. Your father will be missed and I still have some of his records. God bless you and family.

  8. Gracias por we amigo de me abello (el Nieto de Juan “Juancito Trucupey” Tejeda).. Luis was a great man I had the pleasure of meeting him in Manhatthan in the 1980’s while my Grandfather Juancito Trucupey was still alive. Great men of the music world your tunes will always be charished!!!

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