Born: 1901

Died: 1999

Joaquín Rodrigo

Joaquín Rodrigo: a biography

Rodrigo and his wife, the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi, moved to the little town of Aranjuez just outside Madrid in 1939, having spent much of the previous decade in Paris. Here he put the finishing touches to a guitar concerto that has firmly planted itself in the affection of music lovers as have few 20th-century works. Has there ever been a more vivid musical picture of Spain than this, the work of a man who was blind since the age of three? (All his works were notated and played through by his wife.) The sunshine and sangria are there, but also ­nostalgia in its wistful and beautiful Adagio.

It’s something of a surprise to learn that not only was Rodrigo not a guitarist himself (the writing is so convincing) but that he was a pupil of Paul Dukas. Not surprisingly, the success of the Concierto de Aranjuez inspired Rodrigo to write other works for guitar and orchestra (a notoriously difficult combination when scoring the weak-toned guitar against a full orchestra) – his Fantasía para un gentilhombre, the Concierto madrigal (for two guitars and orchestra) and the Concierto Andaluz (for four guitars).

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