Rubén González

The young Rubén González was an accomplished classical pianist and in his youth was planning to become a doctor. In 1941 he gave up his studies of classical music and medicine to begin his professional career playing dance music, playing with most of the major orchestras in Cuba. He began his recording career in 1943 with the pioneering bandleader Arsenio Rodríguez, who would help revolutionize the sound of Cuban music. Rubén said that he approached the piano not as an accompanying instrument but one that also ‘leads’, whilst still maintaining the rhythm. Arsenio became a major influence on Rubén’s playing style and his outlook on life, giving him some invaluable advice that he has always tried to follow. He explained that the key to being a great pianist was mastering Cuban syncopation, while at the same time playing from the heart. “Don't worry about what anyone else is doing. Just play your own style, whatever it is, but don’t imitate anyone. Just carry on like that, so when people hear your music, they’ll say, ‘that’s Rubén’.”

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