Rodrigo, Joaquín

Rodrigo, Joaquín
born Nov. 22, 1901, Sagunto, Spain
died July 6, 1999, Madrid

Spanish composer.

Rodrigo, who was blind from age three, studied music from an early age. Best known for his music for the guitar, especially his highly successful Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra (1939), Rodrigo also wrote concertos for other instruments, a ballet, an opera, and some 60 songs.

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▪ 2000

      Spanish composer (b. Nov. 22, 1901, Sagunto, Spain—d. July 6, 1999, Madrid, Spain), transformed the dance rhythms and folk songs of Spain into more than 150 works during his long career, yet it was for just one composition, Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra, that he became famous. Rodrigo conceived that concierto in honour of the royal gardens and summer palace at Aranjuez, near Madrid. When he composed the work in Paris in 1939, his wife's life was endangered by the birth of a stillborn child, and the prayerful adagio movement was an emotional plea for her relief from pain. One of the earliest guitar concertos, it was an immediate success at its 1940 Barcelona premiere and became an international concert favourite after World War II; among its dozens of recorded versions, perhaps the most famous became Gil Evans's adaptation of the adagio for trumpeter Miles Davis and an assembled jazz band. Rodrigo, blinded by diphtheria at age three, used Braille as a child to learn to play piano and violin. He studied music in Paris, where he composed and performed on piano and where he met his wife, Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi, and his mentor, noted Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Following the Spanish Civil War, Rodrigo settled permanently in Spain in 1939, became a music critic, musical adviser for Spain's National Radio, and for 30 years, beginning in 1947, held the Manuel de Falla Chair of Music at the University of Madrid. He went on to create romantic impressions of Spain's landscapes and history in symphonic works, 10 additional concertos, ballet and film music, light operas, solo guitar and piano pieces, and 60 songs, as well as the noted Fantasía para un Gentilhombre (1954), composed for guitarist Andrés Segovia and orchestra. Often honoured during his lifetime, Rodrigo was proudest of his royal title Marquis of the Aranjuez Gardens, bestowed in 1991 by King Juan Carlos I.

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▪ Spanish composer
born Nov. 22, 1901, Sagunto, Spain
died July 6, 1999, Madrid

      one of the leading Spanish composers of the 20th century.

      Although blind from age three, Rodrigo began music studies at an early age and later became a pupil of Paul Dukas (Dukas, Paul). While in France he made the acquaintance of composer Manuel de Falla (Falla, Manuel de), who became his mentor. In 1939 Rodrigo returned to Spain. After the first performance of his highly successful Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra (1940), in Barcelona, he was widely regarded as the leading post-Civil War Spanish composer. He later became a musical adviser for Spain's national radio and, from 1947 to 1977, held the Manuel de Falla Chair of Music at the Complutensian University of Madrid.

      Although best known for his music for guitar, such as his Fantasía para un gentilhombre (1954; composed for guitarist Andrés Segovia (Segovia, Andrés) and orchestra) and Concierto Andaluz (1967; written for the Romero Family), he also wrote concerti for other instruments (such as Concierto heróico for piano and orchestra, 1942, and Sones en la Giralda for harp and orchestra, 1963), an opera (La azuzena de Quito, 1965), a ballet (Pavana real, 1955), solo guitar and piano pieces, and 60 songs.

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Universalium. 2010.

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