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Rafael Mendez

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Biography

Rafael Méndez (March 26, 1906 - September 15, 1981) was a popular Mexican virtuoso solo trumpeter.

Méndez was born in Michoacan, Mexico. As a young child, Méndez was the cornetist for Pancho Villa. His most famous recording, “Moto Perpetuo,” was written in the eighteenth century by Paganini for violin and features Mendez double tonguing continuously for over 4 minutes while circular breathing to give the illusion that he is not taking a natural breath while playing.

From 1950 to 1975, Méndez was a full time soloist, performing as many as 125 concerts per year. He was also very active as a recording artist.

Méndez was legendary for his tone, range and technique. Méndez’s playing was characterized by a brilliant tone, wide vibrato and clean, rapid articulation. His repertoire was a mixture of classical, popular, Mexican folk music and jazz. Méndez contributed many arrangements and original compositions to the trumpet repertoire. His Scherzo in D Minor is often heard in recitals, and has been recorded by David Hickman.

The music building of Arizona State University houses the Rafael Méndez Library, established in 1993.

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