Sonata a la española : Work information

Joaquín Rodrigo ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Carlos Bonell (Guitar)

This work

Work name
Sonata a la española
Work number
1969-00-00 02:00:00

This recording

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Alan Peters
Ian Shepherd
Recording date

Track listing

  • Allegro moderato 3:13 min
  • Adagio 3:18 min
  • Allegro assai 2:10 min


Rodrigo's  three movement Sonata a la Española  (1969) opens with an allegro movement which pits the steady, earthy tread of the opening theme against the nasal twang of a recurring quaver figure. The central adagio movement opens with a rhapsodic theme on the lower strings of the guitar, accompanied by the acrid harmonies of the upper strings. The last movement is a rich, full-blooded bolero with perhaps a hint of irony in the overt Spanish-ness of the music. 

The Composers

Joaquín Rodrigo

In 1901 Joaquin Rodrigo was born in Sagunto in Spain on the day of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music.  When he was three he lost his sight as a result of a diphtheria epidemic.  He began playing music at eight, and at 16 entered the Conservatoire in Valencia to study harmony and composition.  In 1927 he moved to Paris to enroll at the Ecole Normale de Musique, and made friends with musical celebrities such as Honegger and Ravel.  The Spanish civil war prevented Rodrigo and his new wife and collaborator Victoria Kamhi from returning to Spain until 1939, but the following year his Concierto de Arunjez for guitar and orchestra premiered in Barcelona, bringing worldwide fame.

Rodrigo calls his recognisable style 'neocasticismo', a style whose classical forms and traditional tonality mix with original harmonies and old and new Spanish themes.  After his return to Spain Rodrigo composed 11 concertos, more than 60 songs, choral and instrumental works, and music for the theatre and cinema, all bearing the imprint of his optimistic, lively personality.

As well as composing, Rodrigo was active as a critic and academic, holding varied positions including Professor of music history at Madrid University, head of music broadcasting for Spanish radio, and head of the Spanish National Organization for the Blind's artistic division.  He also wrote on a wide range of musical subjects, from 16th century polyphony to Richard Strauss's symphonic poems.  He died in Madrid in 1999, internationally acclaimed and awarded.

Related composers: Honegger, Ravel, Stravinsky, Ponce, Falla