Pedro Depestre

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b. Pedro Depestre Gonzalez, June 1945, Cienfugos, Cuba, d. 8 April 2001, Basel, Switzerland. Depestre played violin from the age of five, and was only 13 when he joined the famous Orquesta Aragón in…
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Artist Biography by

b. Pedro Depestre Gonzalez, June 1945, Cienfugos, Cuba, d. 8 April 2001, Basel, Switzerland. Depestre played violin from the age of five, and was only 13 when he joined the famous Orquesta Aragón in Havana, Cuba. A sparkling and exhilarating instrumentalist, he then worked with other bands in Havana and Santiago de Cuba, including the Maravillas De Florida and the Orquesta Tipica De Juventud. He was also active in radio and television studios and built a solid reputation not only with fans of Cuban music but also among his peers. Although Depestre was often one of the youngest members of the bands in which he was featured, he was frequently responsible for arrangements and musical direction. He attracted attention outside Cuba, as did other members of the band, following Ry Cooder’s involvement with the Buena Vista Social Club band and the reassembling of the group, many of whom were in their eighties and nineties, for a 1996 album and a 1999 film. Depestre chose not to tour with the revitalized Buena Vista band on its overseas tours, but remained in Havana where his popularity was remarkable.

Depestre also played in bands led by Orlando ‘Cachaíto’ López, Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, and Omara Portuondo. He joined Lopez for a 2001 European tour and appeared at the first concert, in Basel, Switzerland. After playing a typically vibrant solo, Depestre collapsed on stage where, despite the efforts of a doctor from the audience, he died.