Rafael Cortés was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he began his piano studies. He is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. His teachers have included Lillian Freundlich, Roland Keller, Germán Diez and Edna Golandsky. Cortés is a Fulbright Scholar who has concertized in Germany, Central and South America, Puerto Rico and New York, including at Merkin Hall with the New York Philharmonic Ensembles. He has given Master Classes in New York and Puerto Rico and has served as a judge in numerous piano competitions.
Cortés has been teaching piano in New York City since 1983, and for thirteen years served as Chairman of the Piano Department at the Turtle Bay Music School in Midtown Manhattan. He currently teaches at Lucy Moses School at Kaufman Music Center, and maintains a full roster of private students that includes children and adults.