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Gómez, Vicente (1911-2001) | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Gómez, Vicente (1911-2001)

Historical Note:

Vicente Gomez was a classical guitarist, composer, arranger, and teacher. He was born in 1911 in Madrid, Spain. He learned to play guitar when he was 8 years old in his father’s tavern. At age twelve, he began training with Quintin Esquembre, who had studied with Francisco Tarrega, at Madrid’s Real Conservatorio. After his first concert in 1924, he was encouraged to start a professional career.

Between 1932 and 1933, Gomez played concerts in many countries, including Africa, Italy and throughout Russia. In 1936, he was invited to play in Leningrad, Russia but was unable to do so as the Spanish Civil War began the same day he was schedule to debut. Gomez was sympathetic to the Republicans during the Civil War, and with increasing numbers of Republicans being jailed, he sought refuge in France. During his time as a resident of France, Gomez played concerts in Cuba and Mexico. In 1937, an American agent discovered Gomez while listening to a radio broadcast, and persuaded him to go to New York. Gomez soon had his own 15-minute radio broadcast in the U.S. Decca released his first album in 1939.

In 1941, Alfred Newman invited Gomez to contribute background music for the 20th Century-Fox film, Blood and Sand, for which he played both flamenco and classical guitar music. Gomez became a U.S. citizen in 1943. After being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946, he opened a popular nightclub, La Zambra, in New York. The Classical Guitar Society of New York, of which he was president, used the club as the meeting place.

In 1953, Gomez moved to Los Angeles where he opened the Academy of Spanish Arts, a school devoted to teaching classical and flamenco guitar, flamenco dance, ballet, the Spanish language, and bull fighting. Over the next few years, Gomez continued to compose music for films as well as for Garcia-Lorca’s play, Blood Wedding. He also produced music for a documentary on the famous Spanish painter, Francisco Goya, and composed Rio Flamenco, a concerto for guitar and orchestra.

Gomez passed away in 2001 at the age of 90 in Burbank, California.

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