Sunday morning music


Last week we looked at the baroque guitar, with specific emphasis on Spanish composer/arranger Santiago de Murcia.  We saw how a single piece of music could be played in many different ways, according to the varying instruments and/or interpretation(s) of the performer(s).

Today I’d like to sort-of-kind-of extend that to a modern Spanish composer, best known for his classical guitar works;  Joaquin Rodrigo.  His Concierto de Aranjuez is probably his most popular piece, but he wrote many others that are, in my opinion, even better than that.  I’m particularly fond of his Fantasía para un gentilhombre (“Fantasia for a gentleman”), which he wrote in 1953 at the request of famed performer Andrés Segovia, one of the highest-rated classical guitarists of the 20th century.

Segovia was an old-school musician, demanding strict adherence to tempo and meter according to what he saw as the intent of the composer and/or of the era in/for which the music had been composed.  His performance of the Fantasia is thus more measured, more stately, more restrained than one from a less “inhibited” performer.  To illustrate, I’m going to embed full performances of the Fantasia from first Segovia, then Pepe Romero, part of the world-famous The Romeros classical guitar quartet.  Judge for yourself.

Whilst Rodrigo wrote prolifically for classical guitar, he could (and did) also write for other instruments.  He rescored his Concierto de Aranjuez for harp and orchestra for Spanish harpist Nicanor Zabaleta, and later wrote the original work Concierto serenata for him as well.  Here’s an original performance of the latter, featuring Zabaleta as soloist.

To make matters more interesting, in 1974 Irish flautist James Galway asked Rodrigo’s permission to rescore his Fantasía para un gentilhombre for flute and orchestra.  Rodrigo agreed, and later wrote for him the original flute piece Concierto Pastoral.  Here’s Galway’s rendition of the Fantasia – a delightful variation on the classical guitar repertoire.

So, it seems a modern composer best known for his classical guitar pieces can be just as inventive and creative for other instruments as well.  In that sense, Rodrigo is following in the footsteps of earlier composers for baroque guitar, who wrote the central line or theme of the piece, but were content to let performers adapt around that, including or excluding other instruments, variations and improvisations as they saw fit.

I hope you enjoy these Sunday Morning Music wanderings.  I don’t get much feedback from my readers, and I’m not sure if that’s because most of you aren’t really interested in them, or just don’t feel like saying anything.  Still, I enjoy the opportunity to share music I’ve enjoyed, and to get a little whimsical now and then – like I did last week, and again this morning.



  1. I greatly enjoy your Sunday music pieces. They allow me to discover parts of the music world I wouldn't otherwise find. Please continue them.

    On a more general note, I find the eclectic nature of your blog encouraging. The internet tends to encourage specialization, which has its place. But the thoughts of those who are self-reflective do not travel in simple channels, and seeing the thoughts of such a person thinking about the world is always worthwhile.

  2. I heard Segovia perform at the Hampton Coliseum in the early seventies when I was stationed in Norfolk.
    Time has removed the details, but I clearly remember that his music was wonderful.

    I will try to comment more often.

  3. Your Sunday Morning Music coup[led with visits to Borepatch have expanded my musical knowledge and awareness. Please continue your work, it is greatly appreciated.
    James Galway is an amazing talent and a wonderful personality. Good for him for doing so well. He has a distinct tone and manner of playing that I can often discern when listening to a piece on the radio.
    Many thanks for my continuing education.

  4. I absolutely love your Music posts. Unfortunately for me, commenting is difficult, due to my hands not working very well.

    I am actually putting together a private message to you with some links to an old friend who I lost touch with. He is an amazing musician and his instrument of choice will delight you. An arch guitar, which is the combination of a lute and guitar.

    It took 15 minutes to type this. I will contact you soon.

  5. I enjoy your music posts. With Christmas fast approaching I recommend taking a look at Jewels Christmas album up on her Youtube channel. I think you'd like it.

  6. Just a note.
    I was walking down the hall of the BOQ to my room and heard the most beautiful guitar music. It was not my next door resident playing music on anything but the guitar he held in his hands. Segovia. He and the music were wonderful. Glad I got to the go to the house parties where he jammed with the banjo, guitar, piano. It's been 40 years and I never heard live music that was that good.

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