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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
Joaquín Rodrigo 
Joaquín Rodrigo
July 6, 1999
Age 97
 
 
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 Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo dies 

                    
 Associated Press 

                   MADRID, Spain - Joaquin Rodrigo, one of Spain's best-known 
                   composers, died Tuesday at his home in Madrid. He was 97. 

                   Born in the eastern city of Valencia in 1902, Mr. Rodrigo was blinded by 
                   diphtheria at 3. As a child, he learned to play piano and violin with the help 
                   of Braille. 

                   As a young man, Mr. Rodrigo moved to Paris, where he met his wife and 
                   lifetime partner, the pianist Victoria Kamhi. The couple married in 1933. 

                   It was in Paris in 1939 that Mr. Rodrigo composed his popular Concierto 
                   de Aranjuez for guitar, shortly before returning to Spain. 

                   The melodic piece, named after a town near Madrid dominated by a royal 
                   summer palace, was first performed in Barcelona in 1940. 

                   Mr. Rodrigo's body was to be taken Tuesday to Aranjuez, where admirers 
                   will be able to pay their last respects, National Spanish Radio reported. 

                   Spanish Culture Minister Mariano Rajoy called Mr. Rodrigo "one of the 
                   most relevant figures in Spanish music," adding that celebrations for the 
                   centennial of his birth were already being planned, the state-owned news 
                   agency Efe reported.

 
NY TIMES
 
 Joaquín Rodrigo, Master of Spanish Classical Music, Dies at 97

          By AL GOODMAN 

          MADRID -- Joaquín Rodrigo, a major figure in Spanish classical 
          music whose haunting masterpiece, "Concierto de Aranjuez," 
          inspired dozens of interpretations worldwide, including a jazz version by 
          Miles Davis, died on Tuesday at his home in Madrid. He was 97.  

          Maestro Rodrigo, as the blind composer was frequently called, wrote 26 
          works for the guitar and helped to move that instrument to center stage in 
          concert halls. The three-movement "Concierto de Aranjuez" is his most 
          widely performed guitar piece, and there are some 50 recordings of it 
          currently on the market, said Spain's royalty collection society, the 
          General Society of Authors and Publishers.  

          Spain's Culture Minister, Mariano Rajoy, called Rodrigo "one of the 
          most relevant figures in Spanish music," the news agency EFE reported.  

          Rodrigo was born in Sagunto in southeastern Spain on Nov. 22, 1901. 
          His father was a large landowner and influential conservative politician. 
          When Joaquín was 3, diphtheria severely impaired his eyesight, and he 
          later went completely blind.  

          He began studying piano and violin and by his early 20's was an 
          accomplished pianist and budding composer. His first orchestral work, 
          "Juglares," had its premiere in 1924 in Valencia. He moved to Paris in 
          1927, studied under Paul Dukas and met the well-known Spanish 
          composer Manuel de Falla, whom he befriended. In Paris Rodrigo also 
          met the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi. They married in 1933 and were 
          inseparable companions and collaborators until her death in July 1997.  

          During much of the Spanish Civil War, from 1936-39, Rodrigo lived in 
          Paris or Salzburg, and in 1939, at the suggestion of the guitarist Regino 
          Sainz de la Maza, he composed "Concierto de Aranjuez." Largely 
          written in Paris, it had its premiere on Nov. 9, 1940, in Barcelona with 
          the Barcelona Philharmonic Orchestra and De la Maza as soloist.  

          The piece became so popular that Rodrigo later complained that it was 
          like a great tree that cast a shadow on his other music. Aranjuez is a 
          town 30 miles southeast of Madrid whose main point of interest is the 
          18th-century Bourbon royal summer palace and its lush gardens.  

          The concerto's second movement, an Adagio about 11 minutes long, has 
          the work's signature melody, which begins as a slow cadence played by 
          strings and woodwinds, later by guitar, and in a climax by the full 
          orchestra. Miles Davis used the concerto as inspiration for his 1959 
          album "Sketches of Spain," and Chick Corea did likewise on his jazz 
          piece "Spain."  

          A fellow composer, Xavier Montsalvatge, who attended the 1940 debut 
          in Barcelona, wrote after Rodrigo's death that "the work even then made 
          a great impression for the originality of being one of the first concertos for 
          guitar and orchestra, and for its great beauty."  

          Rodrigo took a teaching position in 1940 at Madrid's Royal Higher 
          Conservatory of Music. In the 1940's he also worked as a music critic 
          for various Madrid newspapers and was musical adviser for Spain's 
          National Radio.  

          In 1958 Rodrigo's "Fantasía Para un Gentilhombre" ("Fantasy for a 
          Gentleman"), written for Andrés Segovia, had its premiere in San 
          Francisco, with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Segovia as 
          soloist.  

          Rodrigo wrote more than 200 works in a variety of genres and styles, for 
          ballet, movies, light operas, and for voice, piano and full orchestra. A 
          Spanish poet, Gerardo Diego, said that Rodrigo created acoustical 
          landscapes, and critics said his style blended a vital, lyrical happiness with 
          strong touches of melancholy.  

          In 1991 King Juan Carlos I granted Rodrigo the royal title of Marquis of 
          the Aranjuez Gardens. The concert hall in that city is named for him.  

          He is survived by a daughter, Cecilia.  

          Rodrigo once said that his "Concierto de Aranjuez" was about "looking 
          for the roots, the most traditional and authentic Spanish things." He 
          added, "I like to be an ambassador for Spain."  
 

 
 
 
 
 
       
 

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The JR Web Site

Joaquín Rodrigo was born in Sagunto (Valencia) on St Cecilia's day, the patron saint of music, 22nd November 1901. At the age of three he lost his sight almost completely as a result of an epidemic of diphtheria. This misfortune undoubtedly led him towards music. At the age of eight he began his first musical studies: solfa, piano and violin, and at the age of sixteen harmony and composition with teachers from the Conservatoire in Valencia: Antich, Gomá and L6pez Chavarri. 

His first compositions date from 1923: Suite for Piano, Two Sketches for violin and piano, Siciliana for 'cello. In 1924 his first work for orchestra, Juglares, was premièred in Valencia and Madrid, and he obtained a Diploma in a national competition for his orchestral work Cinco piezas infantiles, which was later premièred in Paris by the Straram Orchestra. From the very beginning, Rodrigo has written all his works in Braille, dictating them afterwards to a copyist. 

In 1927, following the example of his predecessors Albéniz, Granados, Falla and Turina, Rodrigo moved to Paris to enroll at the Ecole Normale de Musique, where he studied for five years with Paul Dukas, who had a particular affection for his Spanish pupil. In memory of Dukas Rodrigo  
wrote his Sonada de adiós for piano in 1935. He quickly became known as both pianist and composer, and became friendly with Falla, Honegger, Milhaud, Ravel, and many other musical celebrities of the time. 

In 1929 he met Victoria Kamhi, an excellent pianist and pupil of Lalewicz, Lévy and Viñes. and they were married in 1933.  From that moment she has been the most important collaborator in every aspect of Rodrigo's work as a composer. 

The early years of marriage for the Rodrigos In France and Germany were very difficult, since the Spanish Civil War broke out shortly afterwards, and the scholarship from the Real Academia de Bellas Artes which he had been receiving, thanks to the intervention of Manuel de Falla, was withdrawn. Once the war was over, in 1939, the Rodrigos returned to Spain. The composer brought with him the manuscript of the Concierto de Aranjuez, written in Paris, a work which was to bring Rodrigo world-wide fame. Since his return to Spain Rodrigo has led an extremely active life, both as composer and as critic and academic. The numerous and varied compositions include eleven Concertos for various instruments, more than sixty songs, choral and instrumental works, and music for the theatre and the cinema. A number of the most distinguished soloists of our time have commissioned works from him, including Cassadó, Segovia, Zabaleta, James Galway, Julian Lloyd Webber and Cuarteto Romero. 

The posts occupied by Rodrigo include that of Professor of the History of Music at the University of Madrid, Head of Music Broadcasts for Spanish Radio, music critic of several newspapers, and Head of the Artistic Section of the Spanish National Organization for the Blind. As lecturer and pianist he has made a number of tours throughout Spain, Europe, Latin America, the United States, Israel and Japan. His writings on music reveal a profound understanding of the art, and include subjects as varied as 16th century polyphony, the symphonic poems of Richard Strauss, and the art of the conductor. 

The music of Joaquín Rodrigo is refined, luminous, fundamentally optimistic, with a particular predominance of melody, and original harmonies. His first works reveal the influence of composers of his time such as Ravel and Stravinsky, but soon there appears a personal voice which will go on to create a notable chapter in the cultural history of Spain in the 20th century, where originality of musical inspiration goes hand in hand with a devotion to the fundamental values of his tradition. "I believe that which is superior in us will survive," he has said. "Often, composing music, I have had the sense that everything that is beautiful -and the soul is this- is certain to remain."  

Rodrigo and his wife have lived in Madrid since 1939. They have a daughter, Cecilia, who is married to the distinguished violinist, Agustín León Ara. 
 

-From the General Catalog of Joaquín Rodrigo, 2nd edition 
 

 
 
  
 
 

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