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Martinez, Ladislao (El Maestro Ladi)

Master cuatro musician Ladislao Martinez, known as “El maestro Ladi”, was born 27 June 1898 in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico.

Martinez showed early interest in music and specifically in playing the cuatro. His early teachers were Joaquin “La Paloma” Gandia and Carlos Soriano. He later moved to San Juan, already an accomplished cuatro player, where he was often contracted to play in many bands and orchestras, especially for the emerging new medium of the times: the radio.

Martinez formed a band, Grupo Aurora, which included Felipe Goyco and singer, Claudio Ferrer. The band was a great success, playing folkloric music, mazurkas and waltz’s, and paving the way for Martinez to become the first Puerto Rican to play solo on the radio. His had two radio programs, “Los Jíbaros de la Radio” which aired in Puerto Rico, and “la Voz Hispana del Aire” which aired in New York, where he lived between 1949 and 1965.

Martinez also made many recordings, released on the RCA, Vergne and Sol De Borinquen labels, with songs such as the bolero, Tentación de Besarte and danza‘s such as this one from Danzas Puertorriqueñas. The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture also released a recording of Martinez’ music including his famous mazurka, “Aurora”.

Often imitated, Martinez has become an icon for all cuatro musicians and towering figure in the music of Puerto Rico.

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