Rafael Méndez

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For the artist, Rafael Alfonso Umaña Mendez, see Umaña.

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

Méndez was born in Jiquilpan, Michoacán, Mexico. As a young child, he was the cornetist for Pancho Villa.[1] 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, with many of his recordings now available on compact disc.

Méndez was legendary for his tone, range, technique and unparalleled double tonguing. His playing was characterized by a brilliant tone, wide vibrato and clean, rapid articulation. His repertoire was a mixture of classical, popular, jazz, and Mexican folk music. He 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. Mendez is known as the "Heifetz of the Trumpet."[2]

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

In 2006, the Los Angeles Opera paid tribute to Rafael Mendez by performing a work based on his life.[3] A reviewer in The Los Angeles Times noted, "He has been called the greatest trumpet player of all time."[3]


  1. ^ "Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Legendary Trumpet Player Rafael Méndez". e-Notes, the online newsletter of the School of Music, Arizona State University. Archived from the original on 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2006-04-23. 
  2. ^ Rafael Méndez - Music Biography, Credits and Discography : AllMusic
  3. ^ a b Swed, Mark (October 16, 2006). "The top of the brass, Los Angeles Opera offers a work based on the life of Rafael Mendez, a trumpeter of effortless virtuosity and big musical personality.". The Los Angeles Times (Music Review). Retrieved 28 April 2014. 

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