The Most Illustrious Marquis of Salobreña, Andrés Segovia

Andrés Segovia was the original rock star, flamboyant and bold. His genius is understanding the guitar to be an entire orchestra unto itself able to mimic or replace all sounds of any of the sections and even emit the chords of a concert, with a single instrument that was previously not considered important.

Andrés Segovia at a recital in the “Concerts Ysaye” in Brussels, 15 December 1932

The Most Illustrious Andrés Segovia as big as Elvis Presley in his day and toured the world until the ripe old age of 75 when he retired to Andulusia Spain to work for another 20 years from a fabulous home overlooking the Mediterranean, very near to his beloved Grenada.

The Most Illustrious Marquis of Salobreña, Andrés Segovia, was most illustrious

The Most Illustrious Marquis of Salobreña, was fascinated with the work of the great composer; Johann Sebastian Bach, as he was able to re-interpret orchestra arrangements into guitar ballads. He would play Bach covers, as part of his repertoire to concert halls around the world. It was he and small number of other virtuoso’s that made the guitar world famous for classic music… hence: classical guitar.

Guitar by Hermann Hauser, 1937, Munich, Germany. Concert guitar of Andrés Segovia’s from 1937 until 1962. Gift of Emilita Segovia, Marquesa of Salobreña, 1986 (1986.353.1). Housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Andrés Segovia can be considered a catalytic figure in granting respectability to the guitar as a serious concert instrument capable of evocativeness and depth of interpretation. It was Federico Moreno Torroba who said: “The musical interpreter who fascinates me the most is Andrés Segovia”. He can be credited to have dignified the classical guitar as a legitimate concert instrument before the discerning music public, which had hitherto viewed the guitar merely as a limited, if sonorous, parlor instrument.

Andres Segovia in Concert, November 1962
Andres Segovia in Concert, November 1962

Throughout his life, if you were to compare the amount of work that Segovia produced, my guess it would be similar to 100 albums.

Segovia’s repertoire consisted of three principal pillars: first, contemporary works, including concertos and sonatas, usually specifically written for Segovia himself by composers with whom he forged working relationships, notably Spaniards such as Federico Moreno TorrobaFederico Mompou, and Joaquín Rodrigo, the Mexican composer Manuel Ponce, the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and the great Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos; second, transcriptions, usually made by Segovia himself, of classical works originally written for other instruments (e.g., lute, harpsichord, piano, violin, cello) by Johann Sebastian BachIsaac AlbénizEnrique Granados, and many other prominent composers; third, traditional classical guitar works by composers such as Fernando Sor and Francisco Tárrega. Segovia’s influence enlarged the repertoire, mainly as a commissioner or dedicatee of new works, as a transcriber, and to a far lesser extent as a composer with such works as his Estudio sin luz.


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