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Xavier Cugat

Xavier Cugat (1900-1990) was born near Barcelona, Spain, but moved to Cuba at the age four where his parents had decamped to escape political persecution. A musical prodigy, Cugat was a violinist with the Havana Symphony at only 12 years old.

At age fourteen he was brought to the United States by Enrico Caruso as a child prodigy and violin virtuoso. In Cugat's own words, "At twenty-five, I concluded that I was good but not great." Shortly thereafter, he began his more popular musical career which brought him to the pinnacle of international fame.

From the beginning, however, there was the ever¬present pad and pencil next to the violin. Cugy was always a true artist, but it was only in the later years he was recognized as much. His work is refreshingly humorous, yet possesses great warmth and understanding for the latin-American friends of his childhood. As one critic put it, "Cugat's Irk is delightfully simple. The gentle quality of his characters, his brilliant use of color and his sense of humor combine to achieve an almost magical lifelike quality."