Joaquin Rodrigo, classical music composer

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Joaquin Rodrigo

Biography

One of Spain's most honored twentieth century composers, Joaquin Rodrigo is best known for raising the guitar to the level of a distinguished concert instrument through his ever-popular Concierto de Aranjuez. He was born in Sagunto, Valencia on November 22, 1901. At the age of three, however, he was left almost completely blind after contracting diphtheria. When he began to compose music in the early 1920s, he composed in Braille and then laboriously dictated his music to a copyist.

Rodrigo's early music studies included piano and violin, and later on, harmony and composition. He studied under Francisco Antich in Valencia from 1920 to 1923 and then with Paul Dukas at the École Normale de Musique in Paris from 1927 to 1932. While in the French capital, he became acquainted with many of the most prominent composers of the time, including befriending his fellow Spaniard, Manuel de Falla. He returned briefly to Span in 1934, but with Falla's help, he won the Conde de Cartagena Scholarship and returned to Paris to study musicology with Maurice Emmanuel at the prestigious Paris Conservatoire. However, the following years were difficult for Rodrigo. With his home country thrown into civil war, his scholarship was canceled. He and his wife, the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi, lived a meager life during these years, scraping by my giving music and Spanish lessons in France and Germany.

At the close of the 1930s, Rodrigo's fortunes began to turn. In 1939, he composed his famous Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra, which premiered the following year in Barcelona. Though he was a pianist, Rodrigo wrote so effectively for the guitar that the work is well-nigh solely responsible for elevating the instrument to a status worthy of the concert stage and it remains a staple of the guitar repertoire. That same year, he was also able to return to Spain. The concerto was the composer's first great success and was only matched by his 1954 Fantasía para un gentilhombre composed for Andrés Segovia. Several commissions followed the success of the Concierto de Aranjuez from some of the world's leading soloists for concertos.

Over the succeeding years, Rodrigo was the recipient of many awards in honor of his music. Six honorary doctorates were bestowed upon him. In 1991, the year of his ninetieth birthday, he was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the hereditary title "Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjeuz." He was later awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts in 1996 by the Spanish government and Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1998. Rodrigo died on July 6, 1999 at the age of ninety-seven.


Composer Title Date Action
Joaquin Rodrigo Sonata Giocosa 3 01/22/2009 Play Add to playlist
Joaquin Rodrigo Invocación y Danza 03/21/2009 Play Add to playlist