Rolando Valdés-Blain was a Cuban classical guitarist, born in Havana, and immigrated to New York as a child. In the 1930s he and his brother Alberto had a weekly music show on WNYC radio. He served in Burma from 1942 to 1946 during World War II and afterwards studied at the Madrid Royal Conservatory, where he was awarded the Grand Prize for concert guitar playing by Joaquín Rodrigo. He toured worldwide under the management of impresario Sol Hurok and his United States tours as guitar soloist included Yale University, Carnegie Recital Hall, and the Spanish Ballet. He was one of the pioneering classical guitarists to perform as soloist together with a symphony orchestra, in 1955 with the Radio City Music Hall Symphony Orchestra and the Joffrey Ballet at the New York City Center. He appeared in Tennessee Williams's Broadway play Camino Real and he also composed the music for the play Bullfight. He was vice-president and adviser of Manuel Velazquez guitars and founder of the Guitar Department at the Manhattan School of Music. In 1968 he was invited to give a command performance at the White House.
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