I am always trying to dig a bit deeper into the history of guitar lessons and who was the first person to lay out a guitar education program in a logical manner. The furthest back that I could really find any solid courses with a means to the madness was with the coming of Andres Segovia. Below is a well written article on everything Segovia.
First, I wanted to mention that I was originally taught by a direct disciple of Andres Segovia. I took several months worth of guitar lessons from a man named Aaron Shearer. Most consider Aaron Shearer the father on modern guitar lessons. Aaron shearer coached the likes of Charlie Byrd and Julian Bream. Well, I was transferred to a great classical guitar player and teacher who was recommended by Mr Shearer, George Yeatman, with whom I took strict highly disciplined guitar lessons from for 3 more years. Anyway, about the time I first heard Jimi Hendrix, the classical vibe abruptly ended. Classical guitar is not my vibe anymore, but everyone should know who Andres Segovia is.
Before you read the article, take a moment to watch and listen to this video. My dad and I saw Segovia about 5 times in concert when I was a kid in the 60’s. Enjoy..
While many refer to Andres Segovia as the father of the classical guitar, some may also refer to him as a Legendary King of the Classical Guitar just as Elvis Presley is considered the King of Rock and Roll, B.B. King is considered the King of the Blues, and Roy Acuff is considered the King of Country. The link between the four of these famous musicians is the fact that they were all important influences within different genres of music and had a passionate love for the guitar, which started at a young age and progressed with brilliant forms of success throughout the rest of their lives. Andres Segovia was a legend of success in so many ways, and his spirit today still continues to live and grow into an influential and inspirational success to admire and treasure for the years to come. At a very young age, he acquired an idea to pursue his dream goal to learn and master the guitar and sharing it with the world. In retrospect, his goals primarily consisted of teaching the study of the guitar to students at every university, have the guitar played anywhere and everywhere around the world including performing on a stage as a concert instrument, and to continue to share his passionate love of the guitar after his death (Bergstrand 1). The following biography timeline of Andres Segovia is repeatedly emphasized throughout this research paper in order to demonstrate how his successful accomplishments defeated the reasonable doubts of other people.
Andres Torres Segovia was born on February 21, 1983 in Linares, Spain. Thus, he is of Spanish descent. His full name consists of the lengthy title of Andres Torres Segovia, marques de Salobrena. The other part of his name Marques de Salobrena was given to him by the King of Spain, Juan Carlos, deemed him as a nobleman (Wikipedia 1). It was not until the age of four when he was introduced to the classical guitar by which â��his uncle used to sing songs to him and pretend to strum an imaginary guitar in his lapâ�� (Bergstrand 1). His profound interest in the classical guitar grew into a series of great expectations in the years that follow. Unfortunately, his parents did not support his love for the classical guitar. They wished for him to play an actual instrument that had potential such as the piano or cello, so they forced him to take lessons on both of these instruments. On the flipside, this did not halt Andres Segoviaâ��s interest in the classical guitar, in fact, it increased it by encouraging him to rebel against his parentsâ�� wishes and follow his heart into mastering the classical guitar. Since his parents did not support his interest, Andres Segovia had a difficult time finding a teacher that would teach him what he desired to learn. Thus, with this in mind, he continuously taught himself. As a result of teaching himself, he developed different types of techniques that improved his performance on the guitar. One of his techniques is mentioned in the following quote, â��Like the great guitarist, Miguel Llobet (who may have been his teacher for a short time) Segovia plucked the strings with a combination of his fingernails and fingertips, producing a sharper sound than that of his contemporaries. With this technique, it was possible to create a wider range of timbres than when using the fingertips or nails aloneâ�� (Wikipedia 3-4).
His parents were not the only ones who did not believe in his dreams of the future. Many people, especially teachers, thought that a classical guitar could never perform just as perfectly as a concert instrument such as the violin or piano could because it was simply not capable of doing so. Rather, no one had attempted to challenge the thought that it was merely impossible to convert classical music to play efficiently on the guitar. Denying the possibilities of the guitar in the classical music world also had a lot to do with its origin. During those times, the guitar was mainly associated within heavy ties of the gypsy culture as opposed to the classical culture. Thus, this is primarily why people frowned upon the idea of pursuing such an odd instrument. Andres Segovia ignored the discouragement from other people, and encouraged himself through the drives of motivation and determination to prove them wrong. All in all, he eventually proved them wrong.
During his older childhood years, he moved to Granada, Spain where he studied music on the guitar at the Granada Music Institute. His first performance in public took place in the city of Granada when he was only sixteen years old. Shortly after, he landed another concert in Madrid, Spain. These two concerts successfully opened the eyes, ears, and mind of the audience just enough to allow him to keep performing into a tour of concerts throughout the years to follow. The first guitar that he owned was created by the studious hands of Benito Ferrer. It was a relatively cheap version that was specifically designed for students to take lessons on. Andres Segovia decided to upgrade to a much nicer version than what he had, so he browsed around at a nearby store, which carried guitars from several local and famous guitar artists in 1912. He was immediately attracted to a Jose del Hierro, which he took into his arms for a test drive into the mind of a musical genius. The owner of the store, Manuel Ramirez, eavesdropped to the point where he could not believe what his ears had heard. With little effort, no doubt, and much generosity, Manuel Ramirez freely gave the guitar to Andres Segovia by wishing him well with good luck into the world of the classical guitar (Zondag 1). He used his new Jose del Hierro guitar to perform, precisely a year later, at his next concert in 1913. Many people within the audience of this concert had controversial opinions about that skills and talents that Andres Segovia possessed and performed with on stage. Some people were shocked and amazed by his outstanding efforts, while others were simply bombarded with handfuls of skepticism and doubt. When he was twenty-one years old, he performed at the Paris Conservatory in Spain followed by another performance a year later in Barcelona, Spain. It was not until 1919, when Andres Segovia left his homeland of Spain and ventured into other countries within South America in order to start sharing his music with the world. He had to start somewhere, so he kept moving around, back and forth between different countries within South America for a total of four years.
The decade of the 1920â��s was merely the starting point of his career. During the year of 1923, he left his tour with South America, and took his continued tour of the world to the countries of Europe. Each time he performed at a concert, his face evolved into a familiar recognition that developed into a reputation of sincere respect. It was not until a year later when his performance in Paris, France set this idea in motion. People began to realize that Andres Segovia was more than a Spaniard guitarist because he had a combination of skills and talents that reflected his drive of motivation and determination to share his efforts with the world. Aside from developing different types of original techniques, he also used his visions to develop what is now known today as the classical guitar. He worked with a man by the name of Hermann Hauser Jr., who contributed his time and effort to create a guitar that Andres Segovia imagined to exist. Over the course of several years, the guitar was perfected into a beautiful classical guitar, in which consisted of a better style and sound. The style consisted of a new design, which was shaped differently in order to produce a different sound. Experimenting with different types of wood also contributed to different types of sounds. Andres Segovia developed the idea of using nylon strings, in which he decided to use on the guitar because they produced a relatively nice sound that could be heard loud and clear while also remaining light and calm. Basically, he had more control over the volume of sound with nylon strings than he did with the other types of strings that were previously used for the guitar.
On January 8, 1928, Andres Segovia made his way to the United States of America. He performed one of his first concerts in at Town Hall in New York (Answers.com 1). A year later he left the United States and began his tour, across the world in several Asian countries. â��As Segovia traveled the world, he and the guitar became more and more popular. Composers such as Heitor Villa-Lobos began to compose original pieces specifically for the guitar. With their dark and melancholy mixture of dissonance and cello-like phrasing, Villa-Lobosâ�� compositions in particular, seemed to fit the guitar perfectly. Segovia had also begun to transpose the masterpieces for the guitar. In fact his transposition of Bachâ��s Chaconne, has become one of the most famous and difficult pieces to master. His transcription makes the Chaconne seem as if Bach originally intended it to be played on the guitar instead of the violinâ�� (Bergstrand 1-2). Thus, in the year of 1935, he performed this piece for the first time.
Over the course of several years, he was remarried more than once, and had three children, one daughter Beatrice, and two sons, Carlos Andres and Andres. He had his last son Andres, when he was well over half a century old at age seventy-seven. His last wife was also much younger than half a century old at the age of twenty-two. Aside from accomplishing the goal of getting married and having children, he also published many recordings over the years and received numerous awards. He also completed his Doctorate of Music degree from Oxford University in 1974 (Answers.com 1).
Andres Segovia made up his mind at a young age to master the guitar. As a result of reaching this goal, he taught many master classes in different countries throughout the world. His master classes were only available by invitation only, so only the best were welcomed. â��To be invited to play in master classes given by Segovia was, to say the least, an interesting experience. In a recital situation one saw him as a distant, commanding figure, but one who was perhaps always the servant of the public. To be suddenly there in front of him, playing, surrounded by some of the worldâ��s best talent, was quite terrifying, as though you were trespassing in a very rarefied area, part of an enclave for those few minutes of agony which would determine whether or not Segovia accepted you as a worthwhile student for encouragement and guidance, or relegated you to the large shaking masses of no-hopersâ�� (Mills 1). Andres Segovia has had the opportunity to teach several famous guitarists throughout the years, which consists of the following people who also took his master classes: John Williams, Esteban, Elliot Fisk, Oscar Ghiglia, Jose Tomas, Charlie Byrd, Christopher Parkening, Julian Bream, Carlo Pezzimenti, Michael Lorimer, Michael Chapdelaine, Virginia Luque, Alirio Diaz and Lily Afshar. Lily Afshar, who currently teaches at the University of Memphis, was and probably still is influenced and inspired by Andres Segovia.
For 90 years, he took an interest in classical music and was able to pursue it on the guitar. Even after the age of retirement, Andres Segovia refused to retire because he believed that he was still very capable of sharing his musical abilities with the word. With that in mind, he succeeded in playing guitar even at an old age. However, time eventually caught up to time on June 3, 1987. At the age of 94, he suffered from a heart attack and passed away shortly after. While he was born in Spain, he also died in Spain, specifically in the city of Madrid, where he gave one of his concerts there when he was sixteen years old.
Andres Segovia was more than just a man, who achieved and accomplished more on the guitar than what was expected of him. He started out as a student, who continued to advance in learning by the works of his own teaching. One day, he became a teacher, who taught his students what he figured out on his own and gained from other guitarists over the years. Thus, he was a scholar and a mentor. Aside from that he was a composer, who wrote his own music and transcribe and translated music from other composers such as Handel, Bach, and Beethoven. He was also a husband to three different wives and a father to three different children. Most of all he was a musician who mastered the art of classical music and had a hand in developing the art behind the classical guitar. He took what he knew from his own teaching and gathered what he learned from other guitarist.