Antonio J. Molina was called the "Dean of Filipino Composers". He was a prominent violoncellist, conductor and teacher. He wrote 500 compositions in his lifetime.
He was the last of the musical triumvirate, two of whom were Nicanor Abelardo and Francisco Santiago, who elevated music beyond the realm of folk music. At an early age, he took to playing the violoncello and played it so well it did not take long before he was playing as orchestra soloist for the Manila Grand Opera House. Molina is credited for introducing such innovations as the whole tone scale, pentatonic scale, exuberance of dominant ninths and eleventh cords, and linear counterpoints. As a member of the faculty of the UP Conservatory, he had taught many of the country's leading musical personalities and educators like Lucresia Kasilag and Felipe de Leon.
Born into a musically inclined family, he raised his own family as music lovers as well, as three of his children pursued careers in music, and succeeded; they are Rostia, a pianist; Exequiel, a jazz musician; and Antonio Maria Jr., conductor and composer based in the US. In 1923, he obtained his teacher’s diploma in violoncello from the UP Conservatory of Music, gaining experience from such teachers as Nicanor Abelardo and Robert Schofield. He was among the Filipino musicians who used pentatonic scales and ethnic instruments such as kulintang, and gabbang in his symphonies.
Molina's most familiar composition is Hatinggabi, a serenade for solo violin and piano accompaniment. Other works are (orchestral music) Misa Antoniana Grand Festival Mass, Ang Batingaw, Kundiman- Kundangan; (chamber music) Hating Gabi, String Quartet, Kung sa Iyong Gunita, Pandangguhan; (vocal music) Amihan, Awit ni Maria Clara, Larawan Nitong Pilipinas, among others.
Molina has the distinction of being the first musician to be conferred the National Artist Award in 1973. He died on January 29, 1980.
The stamp above is part of a set of five stamps in the Decade of Filipino Nationalism (Great Filipinos V) issued on June 1,1994.