1 minute read

Carlos García Montoya: 1903-1993: Guitarist

Toured With "la Argentina"

In 1928 Montoya met Antônia Mercé, a dancer known as "La Argentina," and she invited him to join her troupe. He remained with Mercé for three years, traveling throughout Europe, and then joined Vicente Escudero on his flamenco tour. In 1933 he traveled outside of Europe for the first time, touring the United States and the Far East with La Teresina. Montoya received a warm welcome in Japan where he was offered a two-year teaching position at the University of Tokyo. Although he turned the offer down, he allowed the university to make a film of his playing method to use as a teaching tool.

In the late 1930s Montoya toured the United States and Latin America with Encarnación López ("La Argentinita"), and when war broke out in Europe in 1940, he moved to the United States. He later became a citizen, and on the eve of his naturalization performed at the White House for President Truman. In New York he became reacquainted with Sallie Ma-cLean, an American flamenco dancer, and the couple married on May 4, 1940. Montoya continued to tour with La Argentinita until her death in 1945.

In the late 1940s, at his wife's suggestion, Montoya decided to break away from tradition and establish flamenco guitar as a musical art form in its own right. This required performing without dancers and singers, without the clapping of castanets, and without audience participation. Montoya enlivened his performances by including many of the percussive elements common to traditional flamenco. His specially built guitars included metal plates, allowing him to vigorously tap his fingers against the guitar, and he learned to imitate the sound of the dancers by stomping his heels as he played. "His flamboyant musicianship drew huge audiences everywhere he played," noted Christie, "and for many his name is still synonymous with the flamenco guitar."

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) BiographyCarlos García Montoya: 1903-1993: Guitarist Biography - Gypsy Heritage Influenced Music, Toured With "la Argentina", Performed At Carnegie Hall