Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Xavier Cugat (1900 – 1990) was a Spanish-American bandleader and native of Spain who spent his formative years in Havana, Cuba.
A trained violinist and arranger, he was a leading figure in the spread of Latin music in United States.
In 1931, Cugat had taken his band to New York for the 1931 opening of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and he eventually replaced Jack Denny as the leader of the hotel's resident band. For 16 years, Cugat helmed the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel's orchestra, shuttling between New York and Los Angeles for most of the next 30 years. One of his trademark gestures was to hold a chihuahua while he waved his baton with the other arm.
Cugat was also a cartoonist. The personal papers of Xavier Cugat are preserved in the Biblioteca de Catalunya.