Joaquin Rodrigo and the Spanish Guitar

Classical Academy | Composers | 20th Century Period


Many composers show a particular affinity for one instrument - for Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo, the Spanish guitar represented his true and sincere passion. The First Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez, Rodrigo achieved great success as a 20th century composer and virtuoso pianist, despite having suffered from near blindness from an early age. Born in Valencia, he studied piano and violin, as well as harmony and composition, writing his compositions in braille.


Although he never mastered the art of playing the guitar, Rodrigo did much to raise the standing of the guitar, a popular and highly traditional instrument of his native Spain, within the classical concert music tradition. The most acclaimed piece of music ever written by Rodrigo, the Concierto de Aranjuez, a stunning, profound work for guitar and orchestra, was in fact written in response to the miscarriage of he and his wife's first child. Many will be familiar with the middle movement, a slow Adagio that sees an incredible musical dialogue set up between the guitar and the English horn. It was this movement that forms the basis for Miles Davis' 1960 album Sketches of Spain.


From the traditional sounds of Spain to the intimate sense of personal loss, hear how Rodrigo weaves a complex tapestry of themes into his remarkable concerto on this recording, which also features the celebrated Fantasia para un gentilhombre.