- Greg A Steinke
(b Madrid, Spain, July 8, 1911; d Los Angeles, CA, Dec 23, 2001). Composer and guitarist of Spanish birth, naturalized American. At age six, he began practicing guitar in the kitchen of his father’s tavern, picking up flamenco rhythms from the sailor and gypsy patrons. At 12, he began classical training with Quintin Esquembre, a former pupil of Tarrega, at Madrid’s Real Conservatorio. He performed his first concert in 1924 at the Teatro Español in Madrid. Pianist Arthur Rubinstein heard him play and encouraged him to embark on a professional career. This started him on a series of concerts that took him to North Africa and Italy, through Russia (1932–33), and throughout Europe. He composed for and appeared in some Spanish films and continued to play in his father’s tavern.
In 1936, he was invited to perform in Russia and on the day of his debut in Leningrad, the Spanish Civil War erupted. As a loyalist opposed to Franco, his return to Spain would have put him in danger of imprisonment. Instead, he took refuge in France and accepted bookings in Cuba and Mexico. A radio broadcast from Mexico City caught the ear of an American booking agent who persuaded him to come to New York in ...