In working on the final manuscript for A Dictionary for the Modern Trumpet Player (Scarecrow Press), I came across some terrific YouTube videos of the great Rafael Mendez that I wanted to capture here and share in an organized format. The big find is the complete film (in four parts) that Mendez made for the Mills Picture Corporation’s educational series, Concerts on Film, in 1956. The four parts are embedded below in the original sequence. The second installment begins with a brief overview of trumpet history where Mendez shows off the cornet he played as a boy growing up in Mexico. Be sure not to miss Mendez performing the Mexican Hat Dance – all in one breath, for 36 seconds! – at the end of the third installment.
According to the biography, Magnificent Mendez, by Jane Hickman and Del Lyren (Summit Records, 2005 second edition, p. 50), the 16 mm films were intended for high schools, universities, and public libraries as a way to showcase the great musicians of the twentieth century. It was an honor for Mendez to be chosen for the film on the trumpet because the musicians featured in other films were violinist Jascha Heiftetz, pianist Arthur Rubenstein, and guitarist Andres Segovia as well as cellists Pablo Casals and Gregor Piatigorsky. Mendez considered the film to be one of the highlights of his career.
Here are a few more Mendez clips. First up is a brief performance of the fast section of Mendez’s Samba Gitana from the Milton Berle Show in 1951 (check out his dance moves half way through), followed by a clip of his performance of “The Girl From Chihuahua” from the 1946 movie, Holiday in Mexico (starting with a fabulous cadenza). Finally, it’s a soulful performance of “El Gitano” from the 1958 film, Cowboy. Enjoy!