Personalities | Carlos Montoya | Flamenco Fingerpicking Hero | Guitar Heroes

Spanish guitar legend Carlos Montoya (1903–93) helped propel the flamenco style of music from accompaniment for gypsy folk dances and songs to a serious and internationally popular form of guitar music.

Montoya was born into a gypsy family in Spain. He studied guitar with his mother and a local barber, eventually learning from professionals and becoming an expert on the history of flamenco. His uncle, Ramon Montoya, was a successful flamenco guitarist, and Carlos started playing professionally at the age of 14 for singers and dancers in Madrid cafes.

Montoya began touring in the Twenties and Thirties, giving performances in Europe, Asia and North America as a dance accompanist. At the beginning of the Second World War Montoya was on tour in the United States with a touring Spanish dancer, La Argentinita. He settled in New York City and eventually became a US citizen. Montoya became popular enough to tour as a solo artist, and added blues, jazz and folk music to his flamenco repertoire.

In 1948 Montoya began touring with symphonies and orchestras and performing guitar recitals. He became the first flamenco guitarist to tour the world as a guest performer with orchestras. His appearances expanded to television and recording, with more than 40 albums, some with symphonies and orchestras, completed. His reissued albums on CD include The Art Of Flamenco (1993), Flamenco (1996) and Flamenco Direct (1990).

As have other performers who gain wide fame as crowd-pleasing instrumental soloists, Montoya had many critics and detractors among purists and serious scholars of Spanish guitar. Because flamenco is grounded traditionally as an accompaniment for dancers, maintaining a solid rhythm, or compas, on guitar is fundamental. Montoya’s excursions into varying dynamics and time changes on classics like ‘Malagueña’, which Montoya filled with rapid-fire hammer-ons and pull-offs, sometimes at the expense of precise fingering, got him categorized as a flashy showman. But fans around the world fell in love with the emotion and fiery romance suggested by his playing. Montoya died at the age of 89 in Wainscott, NY.

Personalities | Mike Oldfield | Innovative Instrumentalist | Guitar Heroes


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.