Héctor García (guitarist)

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Hector Garcia
Hector garcia bw.png
Background information
Birth nameHector Antonio Garcia Hernandez
Born (1930-11-19) November 19, 1930 (age 89)
Havana, Cuba
InstrumentsClassical guitar

Hector Garcia (born Hector Antonio Garcia Hernandez, November 19, 1930) is a Cuban-American classical guitarist and composer.

He established the first guitar departments in United States universities, at the College of St. Joseph on the Rio Grande in 1963 and the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque in 1967, where he taught for about 20 years.


Garcia was born in Havana, Cuba. He received Master of Guitar and Master of Music degrees from the Peyrellade Conservatory, joining their faculty upon graduation in 1954.[1]

He chose to leave Cuba to escape the communist regime at the age of 30, buying a two-way ticket from Havana to Miama, Florida (but using only one part of the ticket). He sought and was granted asylum in the United States with support of family and friends. He returned to Cuba as part of the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs Invasion, was captured, and was imprisoned. In prison, he worked on the first of two unpublished concertos convinced his captors to "find him a guitar".[2] With this guitar, he formed a makeshift studio in prison with other students. Some went on to become accomplished musicians and professors.[3]

After two years imprisonment, Garcia was released ($50,000 was paid by the Kennedy administration to Fidel Castro and returned to the U.S., where became a concert guitarist and educator, performing worldwide with major orchestras, including the Havana Symphony, Los Angeles Sinfonietta, New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, and the Dupont Consortium in Washington D.C. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and founded the first academic department dedicated to classical guitar at the University of New Mexico.[4] Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco dedicated a composition (Op. 170/39) Cancion Cubana to Hector Garcia.[5]

Garcia studied with Emilio Pujol (a disciple of the Francisco Tárrega school of classical guitar ), and he was appointed assistant in 1969 not only to improve his mastery of the guitar and vihuela but also to help Pujol develop musical materials and notes and to conduct master classes attended by advanced students and performing artists worldwide. Garcia adopted and expanded upon the traditions of both Tárrega and Pujol. Some of these influences led him to adopt a "no-nails" approach for guitar playing, which runs counter to the contemporary trend in classical guitar for players to grow the nails of the hand used to pluck strings (usually the right hand). The nails are grown and shaped to optimize sound production, but in the "no-nails" approach, the nails are cut short so that fingertips contact the string directly. The technique produces a sound that has a distinctive, softer characteristic, although the control is often more difficult, especially in passages requiring a rapid arpeggio or tremolo [6] technique. The "no-nails" approach remains controversial amongst contemporary classical guitarists.

Garcia lives with his family in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He married Jeanne Marie Baum November 12, 1988. He is officially retired, but maintains a strong interest in the advancement of the instrument and the ideas set forth by Emilio Pujol.


  1. ^ Summerfield, Maurice J. The Classical Guitar: Its Evolution, Players and Personalities Since 1800. Hal Leonard Corporation, Jan 1, 2003.
  2. ^ "World-renowned guitarist Hector Garcia to perform for veterans". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Hector Garcia Interview (Full Length)". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Resources for Guitar Students and Educators (Hector Garcia)". Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  5. ^ Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco Papers Guides to Special Collections in the Music Division of the Library of Congress Music Division, Library of Congress Washington, D.C. 2010
  6. ^ "Hector Garcia". Retrieved 30 December 2015.