Composer and pianist, he is considered as one of the most important classical musicians of Colombia. In 1923, he travelled to France to study piano and composition at the Schola Cantorum. In 1929 he returned to Colombia to teach at the Conservatory of Music of the National University in Bogotá.

In 1933, he was appointed as Director of the recently founded conservatory of Cali, where he worked intensively as a teacher as well as choral and orchestra conductor. The nationalistic style of his compositions became a model for his generation in Colombia. His compositions include pieces for piano, chamber and choral pieces, and in many of them is clear the use of folk melodies and rhythms with impressionist harmonies.