Rafael Mendez

World's Greatest Trumpet Virtuoso - 1953

(Recollections of Fred Arbogast)



I entered Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California in September, 1952 and was playing the Silver Olds Trombone in the band.  In January 1953, nearly 64 years ago, my mother took me to Oakland High School to see a performance of the All City Band and their guest soloist, Rafael Mendez.  I had no idea what to expect.  It was an unbelievable performance on a Friday evening!


On Saturday morning Rafael Mendez gave a lecture on playing the trumpet and the importance of discipline.  He performed some pieces and demonstrated "Circular Breathing".  This was astounding since he could play a note for a long time without taking a breath through his mouth.


That afternoon I met Rafael Mendez at the Best Music Company in Oakland.  We shook hands and he was nice enough to autograph my program below (click image to enlarge).  Rafael Mendez gives a similar lecture and demonstration to what I saw in person (video on the right).


RafaelMendez1953Oakland.jpg (218911 bytes)


One of the great Spanish and Mexican pieces of music is "La Virgen de la Macarena",written by Bernardo Bautista Monterde .  The music is played at the Bull Fights and it is said that the Matadors would pray to the statue of the Virgen before entering the arena.  It is located in the Basilica of Macarena in Seville, Spain, photograph below.


Rafael Mendez played this when I saw him perform that night.   I found an audio recording that he made a long time ago . . . but it sounds exactly like what I heard at Oakland High School (left below).   Here is the Rafael Mendez Biography.


Recently I encountered an ad for the iPhone 7 on TV showing the famous Italian diver, Enzo Maiorca, performing to Arturo Sandoval playing (like Mendez) "La Virgen de la Macarena".  It's on the right below . . .  it's an awesome advertisement accompanied by awesome artistry!  Enjoy!