Orestes López

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Orestes López
Birth name Orestes López Valdés
Also known as Macho
Born (1908-08-29)August 29, 1908
Habana Vieja, La Habana, Cuba
Died January 26, 1991(1991-01-26) (aged 82)
Habana Vieja, La Habana, Cuba
Genres Danzón, mambo, classical music
Occupation(s) Musician, bandleader, composer, arranger
Instruments Piano, cello, double bass
Labels Panart, Gema, Maype
Associated acts Cachao, Abelardo Barroso, Arcaño y sus Maravillas, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba

Orestes López Valdés (August 29, 1908 – January 26, 1991), nicknamed Macho, was a Cuban multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader, founder of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba.[1] He is considered the co-creator of mambo, together with his brother Israel "Cachao" López, and one of the most prolific danzón composers of the 20th century.[2]


Early life and career[edit]

Orestes López was born in Old Havana on August 29, 1908. As a pre-teenager he studied piano, cello, violin and the five-key ebony flute. In 1924, at age 16, he played cello with maestro Pedro San Juan's Philharmonic Orchestra. A few years later, he was playing bass for Miguel "El Moro" Vázquez's charanga. According to his brother Cachao, in 1926 he was a member of Grupo Apolo, the first septeto to include a trumpet.[3][4]

Arcaño y sus Maravillas[edit]

In the 1930s he was the musical director of three dance orchestras: López-Barroso, Orquesta de Orestes López and La Unión, before joining Antonio Arcaño y sus Maravillas in 1937 as a founding member. López, a multi-instrumentalist, composed and orchestrated danzones, most notably "Camina Juan Pescao", "El truco de Regatillo", "Los tres bailadores" and "Mambo", which launched a new style of danzón, the so-called danzón-mambo. Subsequently, the syncopated bass in the tune gave rise on the one hand to the dance genre known as mambo popularized by Pérez Prado, and on the other hand to the cha-cha-chá, created by Enrique Jorrín.

In the late 1930s, the danzón had three movements: the introduction, el paseo (the walk in a circle), and la comparsa (the main theme, in which dancers faced each other and danced). López's danzón-mambo, also called danzón de nuevo ritmo, changed the third movement when he substituted a montuno (based on the syncopated beat of the son-playing treseros from Oriente). López's montuno of two to four beats took on a special syncopated character and was given the generic name of mambo.

Later years and death[edit]

His younger brother Cachao emigrated to Spain in 1961 and then to the USA in 1963, and achieved considerable success, but Orestes remained in Cuba. He died in Havana on January 16, 1991.[5]

López is also the father of bassist Orlando "Cachaíto" López, who gained fame as the ever-present performer for the Buena Vista Social Club.[6] López was posthumously inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2000.[7]


Many of his compositions were named after the clubs were Arcaño y sus Maravillas would play their daily shows. He and his brother would continuously compose new tunes for every concert.[8]

  • "Arcaño"
  • "Arriba la invasión"
  • "Avance Juvenil de Ciego de Ávila"
  • "Caballeros, coman vianda"
  • "Camina Juan Pescao"
  • "Carraguao se botó" (also known as "Lágrima")
  • "Catorce de septiembre"
  • "Chifla"
  • "Club Social de Marianao"
  • "El moro eléctrico"
  • "El que más goza"
  • "El Progreso de Tinguaro"
  • "El truco de Regatillo"
  • "En el cabildo"
  • "Esto es crema"
  • "Flores de mayo"
  • "Hágase socio"
  • "Las ninfas"
  • "Llegaron los millonarios"
  • "Los Jóvenes de La Defensa"
  • "Los tres bailadores"
  • "Los tres chiflados"
  • "Mambo"
  • "Nace una estrella"
  • "Nobles y sencillos"
  • "Pasarán los años"
  • "Rapsodia en azul"
  • "Rosa que no se marchita"
  • "Silvio al bate"
  • "Sociedad Antonio Maceo de Camagüey"
  • "Soy matancero"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Orestes López Valdés, EcuRed.
  2. ^ "Cuba recuerda a compositor y contrabajista Orestes López", 2011.
  3. ^ Padura Fuentes, Leonardo (1997). Los rostros de la salsa (in Spanish). Havana, Cuba: Ediciones Unión. p. 129. 
  4. ^ Delgado, Abel (May 12, 2008). "Conversing with Cachao, Part 1". Descarga.com. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  5. ^ www.djangomusic.com
  6. ^ www.pbs.org
  7. ^ "International Latin Music Hall of Fame Announces Year 2000 Inductees". 1 March 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Entrevista con Israel López "Cachao"

External links[edit]