Widely considered to be one of the most important and influential South American composers of the 20th century. He was a multi-instrumentalist who played piano and violin in addition to his favored instrument, the guitar.
He was taught by composer Vicente Emilio Sojo at the Academia de Música y Declamación. He was introduced to classical guitar repertoire by Raúl Borges.
He was incarcerated from 1951 until 1952 by General Marcos Pérez Jiménez because he vocally advocated for democratic rule.
He was initially taught guitar by his father, a barber from Italy, but took up formal studies after his father's untimely death.
He was called "the Strauss of guitar" by famed composer John Williams.