Andrés Segovia: Wikis


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Andrés Segovia. Portrait by Daphne Dobson

Andrés Torres Segovia (21 February 1893 – 2 June 1987) was a Spanish classical guitarist born in Linares, Jaén, Spain. He is remembered for his expressive performances: his wide palette of tone, and his distinctive (often instantly recognizable) musical personality in tone, phrasing/timing[1] and style, revealing his deep personal insight and expressive commitment in music.

Segovia's main musical aesthetic preferences were music of the early 20th century (and turn of the century) especially in the Spanish romantic-modern and nationalist style - a style different from flamenco. This spanish romantic-modern style, is one that Segovia helped shape, and it is perhaps best typified by Segovia's interpretation of his own work Estudio sin Luz [2]. Many works of this and similar style were written especially for him and formed part of his core repertoire: particularly the guitar works of Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982), such as the Sonatina, which was first performed by Segovia in Paris (1925) to an invited audience that included Maurice Ravel, who was impressed by it[3]. Another example of a work in this style (Spanish late-romantic, or Spanish modern-romantic), includes Segovia's performance of Manuel de Falla's Homenaje pour le tombeau de Debussy [4].


Early life

Segovia said that he began playing the guitar at the age of six.[5] Angelo Gilardino, who has worked at the Fundación Andrés Segovia in Spain, noted: "Though it is not yet completely documented, it seems clear that, since his tender childhood, he [Segovia] learnt playing as a flamenco guitarist. In fact, the first guitar he owned had formerly been played by Paco de Lucena, the greatest flamenco guitarist of the epoque, who died when Segovia was five years old. Since then, Segovia was given some instruction by Agustinillo, an amateur flamenco player who was a fan of Paco de Lucena."[6]
Nevertheless, Segovia did not really play flamenco; instead he preferred expressive art-music such as that by Torroba, or others - he has said that he "..rescued [the guitar] from the hands of flamenco gypsies"[7], reviving interest in the instrument, as an expressive medium for the performance of classical art-music.

As a teenager, Segovia moved to the town of Granada, where he studied the guitar and soaked up the other-worldly atmosphere of the Palace at Alhambra, a Moorish relic overlooking the town which he regarded as his spiritual awakening.

Professional career

Andrés Segovia's signature

Segovia's first public performance was in Spain at the age of 16, and a few years later he held his first professional concert in Madrid, playing guitar transcriptions by Francisco Tárrega and some works by J.S. Bach, which he had transcribed and arranged himself. Although he was always discouraged by his family, and looked down on by many of Tárrega's pupils, he always continued to diligently pursue his studies of the guitar. Segovia's technique differed from that of Tárrega and his followers, such as Emilio Pujol. Both Segovia and Miguel Llobet (who taught Segovia several of his transcriptions of Granados' piano works) plucked the strings with a combination of his fingernails and fingertips, producing a sharper sound than many of his contemporaries. With this technique, it was possible to create a wider range of timbres, than when using the fingertips or nails alone. Historically, classical guitarists have debated which of these techniques is the best approach. The vast majority of classical guitarists now play with a combination of the fingernails and fingertips.

Segovia's status as a student of the guitar is a matter of debate among guitarists. The Segovia autobiography, written for mass consumption at the height of his career, depicts him as being self-taught. There are admissions of his seeking out Llobet's advice only for a short time when in his early twenties, but Segovia is quite clear about the lack of any real influence on his playing. Although at that age Segovia may well have been much more than a neophyte, he was still youthful enough to have received valuable instruction, and to have been significantly influenced by it. Indeed, Ronald Purcell points out that "Segovia, whose performance style and technique reveals [sic] the principles of Tárrega, was basically influenced by Llobet....This stylistic influence can be heard when comparing Llobet's Parlophone Electric recordings (Chanterelle Historical Recordings CHR 001) with Segovia's Angel recordings, ZB 3896" (Llobet 1989, 1: ii).

Purcell later states, "At the age of twenty-two he (Segovia) pursued what he considered the only direct contact to Tárrega, Llobet, for refinement of his technique and especially for the music that both he and Tárrega had written and transcribed for the guitar..."(ibid). The accuracy of this date (Segovia would have been twenty-two in 1915) seems to be somewhat questionable. A photograph taken at the exhumation of Tárrega in 1915, clearly shows Segovia at the foot of the coffin, but Llobet does not appear in the photo, and would likely have been present had he, in fact, been in Spain at the time. It may well have been another two years before Segovia began to work with Llobet and there seems to be nothing that would contradict this 1917 date.[8]

The status of the classical guitar at the beginning of the twentieth century had declined, and only in Barcelona and in the Rio de la Plata region of South America could it have been said to be of any significance. When Segovia arrived on the scene, this situation was just beginning to change, largely through the efforts of Llobet. It was in this changing milieu that Segovia, whose strength of personality and artistry coupled with new technological advances such as recording, radio, and air travel, succeeded in moving the guitar forward to become more popular again.

Guitar by Hermann Hauser, 1937, Munich, Germany. Concert guitar of Andrés Segovia's from 1937 until 1962. Gift of Emilita Segovia, Marquessa of Salobreña, 1986 (1986.353.1). The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1924, Segovia visited the German luthier (guitar builder) Hermann Hauser Sr. after hearing some of his instruments played in a concert in Munich. Segovia had been impressed with the quality of Hauser's work[9] and he encouraged Hauser to copy his 1912 Manuel Ramírez guitar (an instrument generally believed to have been built by Santos Hernandez while he was foreman of the Ramirez shop). He examined and made measurements of this instrument. As Llobet, who also visited the luthier in the same year, owned an 1859 Antonio Torres, Hauser also had opportunity to examine it as well. In 1928 Hauser provided Segovia with one of his personal guitars for use in his United States tour and Segovia used this guitar in concerts through 1933. When Hauser delivered the new instrument Segovia had ordered, Segovia passed his 1928 Hauser to his USA Representative and close friend Sophocles Papas who gave it to his classical guitar student, the famous jazz and classical guitarist Charlie Byrd who used it on several records.

After World War Two Segovia became among the first to endorse the use of nylon strings instead of gut strings. This new advance allowed for greater stability in intonation, and was the final missing ingredient in the standardization of the instrument.

After Segovia's debut tour in the United States in 1928, the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos composed his now well known Twelve Études (Douze études) and later dedicated them to Segovia. This proved to be a lasting relationship as Villa-Lobos continued to write for Segovia. He also transcribed numerous classical pieces himself and revived the pieces transcribed by men like Tárrega. Many guitarists in the Americas, however, had already been playing these same works before Segovia arrived.

In 1935, he gave his first public performance of Bach's Chaconne, a difficult piece for any instrument. He moved to Montevideo performing many concerts in South America in the thirties and early forties. After the war, Segovia began to record more frequently and perform regular tours of Europe and the USA, a schedule he would maintain for the next thirty years of his life. In 1954, Joaquin Rodrigo composed Fantasía para un gentilhombre at the request of Segovia. (Segovia never performed Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez[10]) Segovia won the 1958 Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance, Instrumentalist for his recording, Segovia Golden Jubilee.

In recognition of his contributions to music and the arts, Segovia was ennobled on 24 June 1981 by King Juan Carlos I, who gave Segovia the (hereditary) title of 1. marqués de Salobreña[11][12]. (The title refers to Salobreña in the province of Granada in Andalusia). Formally styled, the title is: "El señor don Andrés Torres Segovia, marqués de Salobreña" (the Most Illustrious Lord The Marquess of Salobreña). He was granted the following coat of arms: "en campo de azur sobre ondas de azur y plata, unas rocas de su color, sumadas de una torre donjonada de oro, aclarada de azur" (a field of azure on waves of azure and silver, rocks of the same color, plus a gold dungeon tower, with azure highlights).

Andres Segovia continued performing into his old age, living in semi-retirement during his 70s and 80s on the Costa del Sol. Two films were made of his life and work—one when he was 75 and the other, 84. They are available on DVD called "Andrés Segovia - in Portrait".[13]

Segovia died in Madrid of a heart attack at the age of 94. He is buried at Casa Museo de Linares, in Andalusia.

Personal life

Segovia's first wife was Adelaida Portillo (marriage in 1918). Segovia's second wife (marriage in 1935) was the pianist Paquita Madriguera, who also made some piano roll recordings[14][15]. Segovia married Emilia Corral in 1962.[16]

Segovia's goals

As Segovia's career and acclaim grew he determined "five purposes" as goals for his legacy. They were outlined by Segovia in Guitar Review No 32, Fall 1969:

  1. To extract the guitar from the noisy and disreputable folkloric amusements...
  2. I requested the living composers not in the field of guitar to write for me. This was the second of my purposes: to create a wonderful repertoire for my instrument.
  3. My third purpose was to make the guitar known by the philharmonic public of the world.
  4. ... to provide a unifying medium for those interested in the development of the guitar. This I did through my support of the now well known international musicological journal, the Guitar Review
  5. I am still working on my fifth and maybe the last purpose, which is to place the guitar in the most important conservatories of the world for teaching the young lovers of it, and thus securing its future.

Confusion about Segovia's recordings and especially CDs

Many CDs do not include details about the source of the tracks themselves (date & place of the original recording[17]). Almost always, even if this "source information of recorded tracks" is provided in the CD sleeve (liner notes), it is not provided by online shops, or catalogs; leaving buyers guessing. Other times, the source-information that is provided, presents a date in such a way, that it is impossible to tell whether the date refers to the "release of the CD reissue", or to the "date of a prior LP reissue", or to the (most important) date of the original "recording session". There are also CD releases that incorrectly name tracks[18]

Many CDs of Segovia also include only a small selected subset, of various different "recording sessions": Thus the tracks of a specific CD, usually come from various different "recording sessions"; while leaving out other tracks (that originally formed part of the same "recording sessions").

Segovia's guitars

Segovia has owned the following guitars:

  • Santos Hernandez (Ramirez), 1912[19][20] (image, image)
  • Nine guitars manufactured from the Hauser workshop[21]
    • "The first one of 1929 got lost during the Spanish Civil War"[21]
    • "The second one of 1931 was stolen from him"[21] (image)
    • "The famous third one of 1937 can be viewed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York"[21] (image, image, image)
    • "In the years 1956 through 1969, he acquired another five guitars from Hermann Hauser II. Well advanced in years, he acquired his last guitar from Hermann Hauser III in 1979"[21]

Critical acclaim and modern perspectives


Awards and bringing the guitar to the concert stage

Segovia was awarded many prizes and honours including Ph.D, honoris causa from ten universities.[22]

He received the Danish Sonning Award in 1974 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1986.

Editorial legacy

Segovia left a large body of edited works and transcriptions. His editions of works originally written for guitar include newly fingered and occasionally revised versions of works from the standard repertoire (most famously, his edition of a selection of twenty estudios by Fernando Sor: Segovia's selection), as well as compositions written for him. Many of the latter were edited by Segovia, working in communication with the composer, before they were first published. Because of Segovia's predilection for altering the musical content of his editions to reflect his interpretive preferences, many of today's guitarists prefer to examine the original manuscripts, or newer publications based on the original manuscripts in order to compare them with Segovia's published versions, so as to accept or reject Segovia's editorial decisions.


Segovia viewed teaching as vital to his mission of propagating the guitar and gave master classes throughout his career. His most famous master classes took place at Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. [23]

His teaching style is a source of controversy among some of today's players, who consider it to be dogmatically authoritarian.[24][25][26][27]

John Williams has mentioned

  • "I have to say, with the benefit of hindsight, that I don’t think he was a good teacher. He didn’t tell us what to aim for in the structure. For example, in a Bach suite [...]"[28]
  • "The general mood in all of his classes was one of great fear. People were frightened because he made such an example of the people who failed and would get angry. Everyone knew that he was happiest when they imitated him."[28]
  • "and my father was a great teacher... so that was the most important part of my teaching, not with Segovia!" [Segovia] was "a great inspiration for a young person," but "not a good teacher - he was a rather bad teacher. He was very simplistic and authoritarian... it doesn't actually help you as a musician."[29]
  • "The Segovia gestures—extra vibrato and dwelling on a note or chord at a cadence—is not musical freedom. There has been a tendency among guitar players to think that doing these things for their own sake quite apart from the context of a piece of music as a whole, is in some way expressive. I view them as simply mannerisms[...]"[28] (On the other hand, some reviewers consider John Williams' modern approach as "stiff and standoffish", "prosaic", "seriously constricting the expressive range of his music making", etc.[30])

David Russell relates the following about his private meetings[31] with Segovia (as opposed to Masterclass situations) :

  • "Segovia was very kind to young, talented students, you know. He was like this grandfather figure. For an hour, I was sitting in front of . . . well, "One next to God" [laughs], and he says, "Hey! C'mon kid, don't be so nervous. Just play me something!" [Laughs] For weeks or months afterward the memory of being with him was inspiring and kept me practicing. He was great—really very nice."[32]

Segovia made numerous editorial and personal changes to works (esp. those that were dedicated to him; even changing parts). This is in keeping with the traditions of musicians from virtually all previous eras. It is somewhat ironic, that while he allowed himself these liberties, there are controversial examples of Segovia arguing with students, for daring to change his fingerings.[26] And as John Williams has mentioned "Everyone knew that he was happiest when they imitated him."[28]

On the other hand Piero Bonaguri mentions that "Segovia, so [...] personal in his performances, did not try to induce us to imitate him"[33] (though this sentence may perhaps be more in reference to "reflecting on Segovia" and "learning by example" (Segovia performing), than actual teaching) but also that "Segovia, who was generally good-natured, got angry (and he knew also how to be caustic), when he faced wrong ideas which required more determined means of correction"[33]


Segovia was selective in his choice of repertoire, playing only works with which he identified in a personal way. He distanced himself from many classical works from the end of the 18th to the mid 19th century: e.g. he never recorded any Carulli, Legnani, Regondi, Mertz etc. (a notable exception being Sor's famous Op. 9; and a few minor works by Sor and Giuliani - though even here some of Segovia's recorded performances are critically viewed by some[34]. Segovia has even criticized Sor as not being one of "vigorous talent"[35]).
Instead Segovia's musical preference (favorite repertoire) was music of the early 20th century (and turn of the century) especially in the Spanish romantic and nationalist styles. This is evident from his cultural surrounding and background; by his many performances of works by Torroba and others, etc. This style is different from flamenco; which he never really played, although a few works did have a strong flamenco influence, such as Turina's Sevillana op.29[36] or Turina's Homeneja a Tarrega - Garotin, Soleares op.69 (which is ironically in a very different style, than the Spanish romantic salon style of its dedicatee, Tárrega).

  • John W. Duarte has written: Federico Moreno Torroba was the first composer to respond to Segovia's appeal for new, original repertory for the guitar, something he wisely regarded as essential to the instrument's revival in the twentieth century. This was to have long-range effect: One day when I [John W. Duarte] was with Segovia in his hotel room he showed me a pile of scores on which he was to work; holding the manuscript of Torroba's "Castles of Spain", he said that though he had just received it he was giving it priority: "He put me first all those years ago and I will always put him first" and so he did for the rest of his life.[3]

Controversy regarding Segovia

Segovia was frequently lauded as the world's greatest classical guitarist; [37][38] today however, this view has been called into question by some[39][40]: John Williams (in 1999) has called him "a very limited teacher and a limited musician",[25] though he refers to Segovia's inspiration and the people he met [around Segovia] as "essential".

Technical hesitations versus expressiveness

Segovia is well known for his expressive way of performing and shaping music, using all kinds of expressive devices (phrasing, rubato, fermata, rallentando, accelerando, etc.), and usually employing them especially effectively and appropriately in his performances of Spanish romantic-modern works, particularly Torroba, or Manuel de Falla (in the guitar work Homenaje).

However, in some performances, Segovia has been criticized for "conveniently" slowing in difficult areas, perceivable - perhaps - as being expressive rubato (or phrasing); but often being due to e.g. difficult finger-progressions, as in the shifting of positions. However, this must be contrasted with his highly insightful, expressive, intentional phrasing at other times.

  • "He was not at his best in this group, his hesitations over difficult fingerings too often breaking the line and disrupting the momentum of pieces that must flow in ways that Mr. Segovia's severe use of rubato did not permit."[41]
  • Related to this point, I would like to add a comment about Bach on the guitar made to me by Yehudi Menuhin, the great American violinist, in Jerusalem in March 1979. He said, "the Segovia playing of the Bach Chaconne in D minor was, in a word, thick;" and when I asked him to explain he said: "the transcription to guitar of this work didn't seem to work because there is too much contrast in tones, too much rubato in shifting positions and dreadful phrasing."[42]
  • John Williams has expressed a similar view in an audio interview, in which he critically assesses Segovia's playing of Albéniz's works Sevilla and Asturias[43].

On the other hand Segovia himself may not even been aware how his playing was influenced by technical issues; and he probably did not consider those parts as being a deficiency: instead they became a part of his "interpretation". This must be carefully understood in context, since most of Segovia's inflections (e.g. pauses or fermatas, etc.) are intentional (solely from artistic choice), even though they might seem strange to some modern listeners. For example: the pauses that can be heard in the very beginning of Segovia's interpretation of Federico Mompou's Preludio (from the Suite Compostellana) are intentional (given that there are no technical difficulties, such as shifts).

Some technical hesitations may be due to a lack of preparation, or decreasing "technical ability" and "performance quality": these are aspects that some people consider to have been a factor when Segovia was older, e.g. in some of his later recordings (see also Section Recordings below).


Segovia made numerous recordings, and often recorded the same work more than once. There are large discrepancies in performance quality among his recordings. In particular some works recorded in later recordings seem to be lacking in performance quality, with some commentators preferring some of his earlier recordings (even though the recording technology might not have been as sophisticated):

When I reviewed HMV Treasury's 1979 release of Segovia's 1949 recordings my enthusiasm for the album was somewhat restrained. While

the reissue was worthwhile, the performances still were not those of Segovia as a young man, when his technique and spirit were most different from the artist we know today through his many Decca and RCA recordings made since his sixties. In my review, I expressed the hope that HMV would continue their commendable efforts and "give the music world a truly satisfying glimpse of this guitarist as few know him" by reissuing his earliest 78s, a few of which I had heard at the time. This new collection [reissue of Segovia's recordings from 1927-39 ([44])] is the answer to that request and I can report with great pleasure that it is a marvelous set, filled with superb performances [...][45]

Gregory Dinger — The Art of Segovia (The H.M.V. Recordings; 1927-39) , ARSC JOURNAL Volume XIII, No. 3 (1981), p. 116-119
"The original recordings were made by Decca in New York over the five years following 1952 [...] You can equally detect how Segovia’s playing had declined over those five years."[46]
David's review corner

Early music and classical interpretations - Controversy

Segovia's unique expressive way of performance (such as his early 20th century "spanish late-romantic rubato", etc.) is considered very effective, expressive and suitable for works by Torroba, etc.

However, in classical-era and early music works (baroque etc.) there are some people who believe that Segovia's Spanish late-romantic mannerisms sometimes appear here also, with a result that is arguably less idiomatic (or inappropriate) to the actual style. Others consider that (in any case) Segovia is not sufficiently acquainted with some styles, such as Bach, French Baroque (Robert de Visée), or English Renaissance (John Dowland), etc.
Additionally, any hesitations due to technical difficulties, can also have a negative affect on stylistic aspects (stylistic intent, integrity, etc.).

David Russell when asked about "romanticizing Baroque pieces like Segovia" responded: "There is a big difference between using baroque phrasing and romanticizing like Segovia"[47]. But he has also said "Segovia was great for his time and I think he is very unfairly criticized".[48]

Joel Flegler has written: "This freedom, ironically, today seems relatively well-suited to Bach, musicological research of the past 25 years having revealed that the kind of rhythmic manipulations Segovia often favors have their place in Baroque music. Certainly all the Bach transcriptions in this set have much to commend them. The problem however with Segovia is that he applies rubato and other rhythmic spice indiscriminately, like someone applying pepper to everything he eats, whether it be an ideally aged steak or a peach."[49], showing that while Baroque music can have all kinds of rhythmic flexibilities (baroque rubato and sentiment), some believe that Segovia may sometimes have used somewhat "indiscriminate" shapings ("spanish late-romantic rubato", etc).

"For today’s listener who have grown accustomed to more authentic playing he can appear dated, heavy and rather unsubtle. Take Luys Milan’s Pavana III as an enlightening example. It is energetic and played with great conviction but rather four-square."[50]

"[...] but the anonymous Gaillard, formerly attributed to Dowland, is robust almost to a fault."[50]

Raymond Cousté (from the McClelland-Cousté Duo) noted in an interview in 2000, that when a young guitarist today records some of Segovia's transcriptions such as "La Frescobalda", then "it's terrible" and "degrades the guitar" today, since "it's an outdated arrangement" and "the proper references [to the original material] are available to everyone now".[51]

"Segovia's approach to music composed between 1535 and 1750 was very different from modern performance practices espoused by the early music movement. Nowadays it is customary to play this repertoire on reproductions of instruments authentically modelled on concepts of musicological research with appropriate adjustments to techniques and overall interpretation. Thus over recent decades we have become accustomed to specialist artists with expertise in the art of vihuela (a sixteenth-century type of guitar popular in Spain), lute, Baroque guitar, nineteenth-century guitar, etc. In the realm of keyboard, recitalists concentrating on the Baroque era now choose to perform on harpsichords and clavichords rather than the grand piano. Andrés Segovia, preferring the twentieth-century guitar to all other instruments as an expressive medium, interpreted the sixteenth-century works of Milan, Narváez, Mudarra, and Dowland (as well as the Baroque guitar of Robert de Visée or transcriptions from Scarlatti or Rameau), with the full application of colour, variety of dynamics, and rhythmic freedom as he applied to romantic pieces."[52] (The last sentence may be misleading, since early music works do require ample use of colour, variety and rhythmic freedom - but in a way that is different from that used for his preferred spanish romantic pieces.)

"It is as easy in retrospect to criticise his interpretations of pre-Classical music as it is those of Wanda Landowska, but both reflected the times and circumstances of their 'reigns' - two geniuses who approached the music with love and awed respect, armed with such academic knowledge as they had. The items by CastelnovoTedesco and Tansman were written in their interpreter's lifetime and his performances of them must be accepted as 'authentic'."[53]

Classical works

Many modern performers endeavour to play music with a more historically informed perspective of the specific period, thus "tread[ing] a different stylistic path [than Segovia], while retaining the greatest respect for Segovia's achievement".[54] (article: Articulation and Authenticity in Nineteenth-Century Guitar Music)

"The Sor Op. 9 Variations provide a fine case in point: Segovia plays the opening theme (derived from a theme from The Magic Flute) with all the tonal lushness and rhythmic freedom suitable to a Francisco Tarrega study. But Fernando Sor (1778-1839) was much more of a Classicist, whose music demands considerable modification of the Romantic style of Segovia's execution."[49]

Lawrence Johnson has written: "It never ceases to amaze me how so many modern guitarists and musicologists can be so sure that the Sor interpretations of great past artists such as Segovia were anachronistic and lacked authenticity and yet don't even consider the wealth of material and instruction from Sor's era which cries out that this music is meant to be expressed with such devices as dynamics, tone color, portamento, chordal arpeggiation, etc. as Segovia and others did. These same modern guitarists with the conspiratorial support of supposedly enlightened musicologists will often perform this music, sometimes on a "period" guitar, and use practically none of the above-mentioned expressive devices."[35]

Thus there also exists the view, that while Segovia might have played some works with inappropriate style, this does not automatically mean that a more authentic style/approach is one of restraint or strictness ( - but rather, that the appropriate style will use expressive devices in a different shaping.)

Segovia's legacy

Segovia's legacy lies in the emotional, expressive way in which he performed works; particularly in the Spanish romantic-modern style, which he helped shape; e.g. in his insightful interpretation of Torroba's Sonatina. This work was one of Segovia's favourites - he recorded the first movement (Allegretto) at least seven times (audio[55], video[56])!

  • "If people have even a little understanding," he once said, "it is better to move them than to amaze them."[57]
  • Segovia has explained in a masterclass (available on video), that "the nuances in the rhythm come from the lack - the delicate lack - of respect that we may have for the rhythm. But in this lack of respect, you may define the good artist and the bad artist". He is referring to an expressive shaping of music; which, if used with truthful expressive intent, defines the "good artist".
  • Listening to Segovia for me is always a pleasure: I have nothing to share with his vision of the music, but I can perceive, from his interpretations, the world he had in his mind and soul [...]. He was Segovia. I am myself. I am glad he was so Segovia.[58]
  • But more important than any label I can use to describe Segovia's "approach" is a certain general quality found in his playing which I think most music lovers would find almost irresistible: an intense identification with the music he is playing that breathes life and gives character to every note and phrase. Occasionally (or perhaps frequently, particularly with Bach) we may find the character inappropriate, due to changing taste and/or musicological evidence, but with Segovia the intention is always utterly sincere and deeply felt.[45]
  • "[...] his artistry is so sincere we're inclined to forgive his indulgences and "wrong" Baroque performance practices"[59]
  • During his performances Segovia is said to have inspired his listeners and students to find and use their own "heritage of experience, knowledge, taste":
    "Segovia, so brilliantly personal in his performances, did not try to induce us to imitate him, but helped each of us to develop his own musical personality fully, by [using] all his heritage of experience, knowledge, taste[...]. He introduced us through the living and present example of his artistic personality (with his temper and preferences) into a human and artistic learning which rose above any particular “version”"[33]
  • "By today's musicological standards, his rolled chords, quick vibrato and slurred phrases may seem antique; yet they carry Andres Segovia's unmistakable interpretive thumbprint, and they are classics of their kind."[60]
  • "Mr. Segovia [...] closed out a remarkable evening with a performance of Albeniz's "Leyenda" that was a gripping example of storytelling in musical tones. This is a piece that Mr. Segovia over the years has played so magically in his own transcription [...]. He did not rattle through the music in the machinegun style that some interpreters inflict on "Leyenda", but let the repeated notes of the faster sections mutter mysteriously and build a marvelously dusky, suspenseful mood."[41]
  • "[...] if we tried to talk emotionally in time with a metronome, the results could only be comic. Human speech has more rhythmic freedom than a metronome permits. In music, rhythmic freedom is what the great guitarist Andres Segovia used to stress in the master classes he gave: He wanted constant variantion from, and yet with regard to, the basic metrics; he tried to discourage his students from letting themselves become too metronomic."[61]
  • About young conductors, Segovia has said: "For most of them the academy has been the mirror and the gramophone."[62], which seems to hint at his disregard for learning only by outwardly copying someone else ("mirror", "grammophone"), yet lacking a personal insight.
  • Segovia was opposed to an outwardly "professional" (precise, exact) way of playing, that nonetheless lacks "soul", as is revealed by his statements, such as: "I like very much the true flamenco, which is played with heavy fingers, roughly but from the soul. But flamenco has departed from the good simple tradition. The flamencos should not be professionals."[62]
  • Segovia's himself is to have said, that a true performer needs a "sacred fire", which is "that love, without which [...] a performer may be perfect, but nothing else..."[33]
  • "The last guitarist to follow in Segovia´s footsteps was Julian Bream and Julian Bream will be 73 years old on July 15th 2006. Miguel Llobet, Andres Segovia and Julian Bream are the three performer personalities of the 20th century. Do not understand me wrong, we have many guitarists today that are very excellent performers, but none with such a distinct personality in their tone and style as Llobet, Segovia and Bream. In all instrumental areas, not just the guitar, there is a lack of individualism with a strong tendency to conformity. This I find very unfortunate since art (music, theatre or the pictorial arts) is a very individual and personal matter."[63]

See also


  • Graham Wade: Traditions of the Classical Guitar(John Calder, London, 1980)
  • Graham Wade: Segovia - A Celebration of the Man and his Music (Allison & Busby, London, 1983)
  • Graham Wade: Maestro Segovia (Robson, London, 1986)
  • Graham Wade and Gerard Garno: A New Look at Segovia, His Life, His Music, Volumes 1 & 2 (Mel Bay Publications Inc., Pacific, Missouri, 1997)
  • Graham Wade: A Concise History of the Classic Guitar (Mel Bay Publications Inc., Pacific, Missouri,2001)
  • Machilis, Joseph. The Enjoyment of Music: An Introduction to Perceptive Listening. New York: W.W Norton and Company, 1977, Pages 107-109.


  1. ^ phrasing, rubato, fermata, rallentando, accelerando, etc.
  2. ^ (The audio sample here is from Fundación Andrés Segovia or Segovia Museum ref.) It is a low quality sample of the work (with only the right track having audio), as recorded by Segovia (in April 1958) as "Study" on the LP album Segovia: Golden Jubilee - the original LP-version has better (and stereo) sound quality: It is available on CD reissue, e.g. from Deutsch Grammophon.
  3. ^ a b John W. Duarte. "Guitar Recital". Naxos.  
  4. ^ (The audio sample here is from Fundacion Internacional Jose Guillermo Carrillo - a page of low quality, since it still has numerous errors, regarding composers, discography and recording dates.) Nonetheless, the sample is of the work Homenaje, as recorded by Segovia in April 1952 on the LP album An Andrés Segovia Concert. High quality CD reissues are available, e.g. from Deutsch Grammophon
  5. ^ "This Day in History - January 4th". LikeTelevision.  
  6. ^ Angelo Gilardino (2007-06-04). "Segovia's early years".  
  7. ^ better citation needed
  8. ^ "Miguel Llobet".  
  9. ^ "I immediately saw the potential of this great artisan if only his mastery might be turned to the construction of the guitar in the Spanish pattern as immutably fixed by Torres and Ramirez" (Segovia 1954)
  10. ^ Pablo Zinger (August 1999). "MUSIC; A Composer Who Found Strength in an Inner Vision". NY Times.  
  11. ^ "Marqueses de Salobreña".  
  12. ^ "An Armory of Famous Musicians". Heraldica.  
  13. ^ Andrés Segovia - in Portrait DVD
  14. ^ "The Great Female Pianists, Vol. 5 Paquita Madriguera". Dal Segno.  
  15. ^ "Rollography". The Reproducing Piano Roll Foundation.  
  16. ^ "Cronología de la Vida y Obra de Andrés Segovia (1893-1987)".  
  17. ^ date & place of the original recording; part of which original LP release the track is from; how many LP reissues there have been: their dates and names, etc.
  18. ^ The EMI release Icon - Segovia - The master guitarist, erroneously lists a track as "Estudio sin Luz", while its true title is actually "Estudio Remembranza" (the 2nd movement of "Estudios Diarios")
  19. ^ Segovia's Santos Hernandez (Ramirez),
  20. ^ Santos Hernandez, Segovia, and La Inédita,
  21. ^ a b c d e Hauser: 126 Years Of Manufacturing Guitars And Musical Instruments In Bavaria,
  22. ^ "Honores y Distinciones". Andrés Segovia. Síntesis biográfica. Honores y distinciones. by Alberto López Poveda. (Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Boletín de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Segundo semestre de 1986. Número 63.) [1].  
  23. ^ "John Mills: The Teaching of Andres Segovia".  
  24. ^ "John Williams Interview with Austin Prichard-Levy". The Twang Box Dynasty.  
  25. ^ a b Takis Atsidakos (May 2007). ""John Williams on Segovia"". citing BBC Music magazine, May 1999.  
  26. ^ a b "The infamous Chapdelaine Segovia incident". by Tony Morris (12 June 2007,  
  27. ^ "Abel Carlevaro technique: Technique compendium". Renato Bellucci.  
  28. ^ a b c d "John Williams—Into the New World". by Mark L. Small.  
  29. ^ Wade, Graham; Gerard Garno (1997). New Look at Segovia: His Life and His Music. Mel Bay.  
  30. ^ "John Williams - Reviews and Controversy".  
  31. ^ "Manuel Barrueco Talks to David Russell" (PDF).  
  32. ^ "Scottish Fandago". by Patrick Francis.  
  33. ^ a b c d "Segovia's Teaching: An Outburst Of Freedom". Piero Bonaguri.  
  34. ^ "Segovia's Contribution to Technical Studies". Graham Wade, 1993.  
  35. ^ a b "Fernando Sor - Master Composer For Guitar?". Lawrence Johnson.  
  36. ^ (The audio sample here is from Fundacion Internacional Jose Guillermo Carrillo - a page of low quality, since it still has numerous errors, regarding composers, discography and recording dates.) Nonetheless, the sample is of the work Sevillana, as recorded by Segovia in June 1967 on the LP album Mexicana. High quality CD reissues are available, e.g. from Deutsch Grammophon
  37. ^ "Andres Segovia - Greatest of the great". Guitarra Magazine, Issue 18, p.4 (1966).  
  38. ^ "Andres Segovia". Encyclopædia Britannica.  
  39. ^ "OK, so Segovia was a pioneer, but he doesn't top today's guitarists". by Stephanie von Buchau - Oakland Tribune, Sept. 24, 2004.  
  40. ^ "A career in guitar". by Renato Bellucci.  
  41. ^ a b Donal Henahan (March 12, 1983). "Concert: Andres Segovia Performs At Avery Fisher Hall".  
  42. ^ Guitar & Lute. Galliard.. 1979.  
  43. ^ Name's Greg, not Jose - Guitar Maker Greg Smallman Interview with Greg Smallman, John Williams, Craig Ogden (28 November 2009). In the available audio interview, John Williams critically mentions: Segovia's performance of Sevilla (tracktime 37:19-39:23 and 40:29-43:15), and Segovia's performance of Asturias (tracktime 39:23-40:29)
  44. ^ "the most recent reissue of these recordings from 1927-39, and others, is the 2008 EMI release: "Icon - Andres Segovia - The master guitarist"".  
  45. ^ a b "The Art of Segovia (The H.M.V. Recordings; 1927-39)". by Gregory Dinger — ARSC JOURNAL Volume XIII, No. 3 (1981), p. 116-119.  
  46. ^ "Review: 1950s American Recordings, Vol. 4 (Segovia, Vol. 6)".  
  47. ^ "Cross-string ornamentation, romanticizing early music, tone color (5. April 2008, David Russell forum reply)". GFA.  
  48. ^
  49. ^ a b Fanfare, Joel Flegler, 1980
  50. ^ a b "Review: Andrés Segovia - 1950s American Recordings: Volume 4". Göran Forsling (April 2008).  
  51. ^ "Interview". Classical Guitar Magazine, November 2000.  
  52. ^ "SEGOVIA, Andres: 1950s American Recordings, Vol. 4". Graham Wade.  
  53. ^ "Andres Segovia". John Duarte; Gramophone Archive.  
  54. ^ "Articulation and Authenticity in Nineteenth-Century Guitar Music". Stephan Kenyon EGTA Guitar Journal no.8 (1997).  
  55. ^ 20 May 1927 track on CD
    April 1952 track on CD track on CD
    May 1973
  56. ^ Jan Peerce, Marian Anderson & Andres Segovia
    Producers' Showcase: Festival of Music, Volume 2
    The Glory of Spain
    Andrés Segovia in Portrait
  57. ^ "Mastering The Sounds of Silence". Michael Walsh; Jun. 15, 1987.,9171,964659,00.html.  
  58. ^ Angelo Gilardino. "Musical style".; 12 November 2009.  
  59. ^ Classical Music, p.1116 Alexander J. Morin, Harold C. Schonberg, ISBN 0879306386
  60. ^ "Segovia's Legacy: Half a century of guitar disks". by Allan Kozinn - NY Times, April 6, 1986.  
  61. ^ Western Wind by John Frederick Nims; ISBN 0073031801
  62. ^ a b "Andres Segovia is dead at 94; his crusade elevated guitar". by Donal Henahan - NY Times, June 4, 1987.  
  63. ^ "Interview with Bernard Hebb".  

External links

Biographical information



Performance reviews and newspaper articles

Compositions or works edited by Segovia

  • Daily Studies Oracion, Remembranza, Divertimento (Schott)
  • Estudio sin luz (Schott)
  • The Finest Pieces from his Repertoire includes Estudios and Estudios sin luz (Schott)
  • Obras para guitarra (Volume 1 - Preludios y estudios). (Bèrben)
  • Obras para guitarra (Volume 2 - 23 canciones populares de distintos paises). (Bèrben)
  • Obras para guitarra (Volume 3 - 50 trascrizioni inedite). (Bèrben)
  • "Segovia" at the Rischel & Birket-Smith's Collection of guitar music (Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Denmark)


CD recordings





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