Cuba has lost famed lute player and composer Miguel Ojeda Díaz, who made significant contributions to traditional music in Cuba. Ojeda Díaz died on Sunday in Havana.
Ojeda was born on September 29, 1921, in the city of Cárdenas in the province of Matanzas. At the age of 17 he formed a musical group to play in parties in rural areas of the country, which became the foundation of his growing reputation as a musician. By the 1950s he had become a popular television performer in Cuba, especially as musical director for the ever-popular Palmas y Cañas tv program, and had played with or composed music for the most renowned island musicians. Ojeda wrote more than one hundred traditional songs including guajiras, guarachas, boleros, congas and sons. He took his music to the United States, Venezuela, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Panama, Jamaica and Spain among other nations. He was a recipient of the Cuban National Culture Award, one of many distinctions that included a medal received from Vietnamese president Ho Chi Min in 1962.