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Sadness ...

01:00 Mon 01st Apr 2002 |

Q.� I adore the Concierto de Aranjuez, what can you tell me about its composer < xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

A.� The Concierto de Aranjuez is probably the most famous piece of Spanish classical guitar music ever written. It s a piece that is recognises instantly by classical, and non-classical fans alike, with its haunting theme and evocations of sadness and romance. Its composer Joaquin Rodrigo is known in classical circles for far more than this one piece.

Q.� What about his background

A.� Rodrigo was born on St Cecilia's Day on 22 November 1901. It is entirely appropriate that the composer was born on the day celebrating the patron saint of music, an art form that was to influence and direct his life from a very early age.

At the age of three, Rodrigo was the victim of a diphtheria epidemic, which left him almost totally blind, and had a profound effect on his desire to compose music. From the outset of his career, Rodrigo composed in Braille, and dictated his work to a transcriber.

Q.� So he began playing and composing at an early age

A.� He did, taking up piano, and violin at the age of eight, and learning harmony and composition from the age of sixteen, studying at the Conservatoire in Valencia.

Rodrigo's first compositions were created in his early twenties, written for violin and piano, and for cello. He obtained a national diploma for his orchestral work, a sign of the creative genius that was to pave his path to greatness, and a reputation few can equal as a composer and academic.

Q.� How did Rodrigo's career continue

A.� In 1927, Rodrigo moved to Paris to study at the Ecole Normale de Musique where he studied with Paul Dukas for five years. In 1929 Rodrigo met fellow student Victoria Kamhi, and they were married four years later. The couple were inseparable, and Victoria is an acknowledged influence in all Rodrigo's work, until her death in 1997. Early married life was difficult for the couple, the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War saw the withdrawal of the scholarship that Rodrigo relied on for financial support, and they lived a frugal life until they were able to return to Spain when the war ended in 1939.

Q.� When did the famous Concierto de Aranjuez first appear

A.� Rodrigo wrote the Concierto during his time in Paris, and it received its premier in Barcelona in 1940. Rodrigo appreciated the irony of his most famous work being written for an instrument he did not actually play himself, and he used his work to affirm his love of traditional Spanish musical style, and his ability to include modern tones and textures to make this one of the most popular classical works ever written.

Q.� So did Rodrigo write only classical music

A.� By no means. Rodrigo enjoyed a varied and active career as a composer and academic. He composed eleven concertos for various instruments, sixty songs, choral work, and music for theatre and cinema. Modern musicians including flautist James Galway and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber have commissioned works from the great composer. In an extremely busy academic career, Rodrigo became Professor of The History Of Music at The University Of Madrid, Head Of Music Broadcasts for Spanish Radio, Head Of The Artistic Section Of The Spanish National Organisation For The Blind, as well as writing music criticism for a number of newspapers, and filling a busy schedule as a touring lecturer.

For what will Rodrigo be remembered

By Spain, for his huge influence on its cultural heritage.�Rodrigo left behind a rich and varied list of works for a variety of instruments, making good use of his considerable knowledge of his country's heritage and history, including Roman influences right through to modern Spanish poets. For the rest of the world, Rodrigo has the distinction of having written one of the most recognisable classical pieces ever composed, and in the process, introducing an entire new audience to the beauty and power of Spanish classical guitar music. Spain rewarded one of its most famous sons by awarding him the country' highest honour, the Prince of Asturias Prize For The Arts. Joaquin Rodrigo died peacefully at his home in Madrid in July 1999.

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By:� Andy Hughes.

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