Author Topic: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)  (Read 11215 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« on: July 11, 2010, 04:18:30 PM »


Joaquín Rodrigo was one of the most honored of twentieth century Spanish composers. Several of his compositions, in particular the Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra, have attained worldwide fame.

Blind from the age of three due to diphtheria, Rodrigo undertook early musical studies under Francisco Antich in Valencia (1920-1923) and Paul Dukas at the École Normale de Musique in Paris (1927-1932). While in Paris, Rodrigo befriended many of the great composers of the time, and received particular encouragement from his fellow SpaniardManuel de Falla. In 1933 he married the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi; they remained inseparable companions until her death in 1997.

After returning to Spain in 1934, Rodrigo quickly won, with some help from Falla, the Conde de Cartagena scholarship that allowed him to return to Paris to study musicology -- withMaurice Emmanuel at the Paris Conservatoire and with André Pirro at the Sorbonne. Some of the most difficult years in Rodrigo's life were in the late 1930s during the Spanish Civil War: his scholarship was cancelled, and he and his wife lived in France and Germany, virtually penniless. They made a meager living giving Spanish and music lessons at the Institute for the Blind in Freiburg. But by 1939, they were able to return to Spain.

Rodrigo started composing in 1923, and won a National Prize in 1925 for his Cinco Piezas Infantiles for orchestra. (Due to his blindness, Rodrigo always composed in Braille, and later painstakingly dictated the music to a copyist.) But his real breakthrough as a composer was with the Concierto de Aranjuez (1940, for guitar and orchestra), which was acclaimed from its first performance in Barcelona. Rodrigo was quickly recognized as one of Spain's great composers, and the awards and commissions started to roll in. In 1947, the Manuel de FallaChair was created for him at the University of Madrid, where he taught music history for many years. He was much in demand as a pianist and lecturer, traveling to Europe, Central America, the U.S., Israel, and Japan. Many of the world's great instrumentalists commissioned concertos of him, and he eventually wrote works for, among others, guitaristAndrés Segovia, flutist James Galway, harpist Nicanor Zabaleta, and cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

In 1953, he was awarded the Cross of Alfonso X the Wise by the Spanish government, and as part of the celebration of his ninetieth birthday in 1991, Rodrigo was raised to the nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the title "Marqués de los jardines de Aranjuez." He was ultimately given Spain's highest international honor, the Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts, in 1996. The government of France also recognized Rodrigo's importance, making him a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 1960 and promoting him to Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres in 1998. By the end of his life, he had also received six honorary doctorates from universities worldwide. Rodrigo died in 1999; he and his wife are both buried at the cemetery at Aranjuez.
 
[Article taken from All Music Guide]
 
Not sure a thread exists, but I did a search and couldn't find one. Anyway...
 
I love Rodrigo. I have come to enjoy his very subtle way with music. He's not an innovator of any kind, but this doesn't mean that his music doesn't have merit or isn't creative, because it most certainly is. Most listeners became familiar with Rodrigo through his work "Concierto de Aranjuez," but for me it was hearing his "Concierto de estio" and "Concierto para piano" (aka "Concierto heroico"). It seems most people don't get past his music for guitar and orchestra, but while it should be noted that these are especially fine works, they are not his best works in my opinion. Rodrigo was quite a prolific composer despite being blind, compsing everything in brille, and having to transcribe all of his to music notation through someone else.
 
What are your thoughts on this wonderful composer? What is your favorite work(s)? Besides "Concierto de Aranjuez" what works do you enjoy and think should be more well known? All thoughts are welcomed here.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2013, 09:50:58 PM by Mirror Image »
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kishnevi

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2010, 07:42:00 PM »
Thank you for posting that. 
I was unaware of his blindness;  nor did I realize how recently he died, although I must have noticed the news at the time.

Sid

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2010, 07:43:15 PM »
I haven't heard much by him apart from the Aranjuez. It's pretty memorable, but that's about it. I had a chance last year to see it live, but passed it up. I think it's just too conservative & cliched for my tastes. Give me Villa-Lobos or even Hovhaness' guitar concertos any day...

Offline Brian

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2010, 07:52:42 PM »
I love Aranjuez ... in the transcription for harp. In fact, I am listening to it right now and discovered this thread about thirty seconds after hitting play. Is it the novelty of hearing the harp instead of the guitar? Maybe, but I've deluded myself into thinking it's because the harp just plain sounds better. It's got a richer, more lyrical sound and the harpist is given a very full part to play with more dynamic and emotional range than the guitar. I'm listening to Gwyneth Wentink on Naxos, whose playing is lovely (and matched by an equally lovely English horn soloist).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2010, 10:50:43 AM »
I haven't heard much by him apart from the Aranjuez. It's pretty memorable, but that's about it. I had a chance last year to see it live, but passed it up. I think it's just too conservative & cliched for my tastes. Give me Villa-Lobos or even Hovhaness' guitar concertos any day...

Rodrigo was certainly not an innovator, but this doesn't mean he didn't write meaningful music. You think his music is cliche? Give me a break. That is of course your opinion and you're entitled to it, but I disagree as I'm sure many others do as well. Anything that's popular like Aranjuez will always receive a fair amount of naysayers, but this is far from his best work. Have you heard his "Piano Concerto" or the "Violin Concerto"? These are two remarkable works that deserve more attention than Aranjuez.
 
I would be willing to wager that if you heard the slow movement to his "Piano Concerto" you would be singing a very different tune. To deny that kind of beauty would make me question whether you had a heart or not.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 11:05:42 AM by Mirror Image »
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2010, 10:53:01 AM »
I love Aranjuez ... in the transcription for harp. In fact, I am listening to it right now and discovered this thread about thirty seconds after hitting play. Is it the novelty of hearing the harp instead of the guitar? Maybe, but I've deluded myself into thinking it's because the harp just plain sounds better. It's got a richer, more lyrical sound and the harpist is given a very full part to play with more dynamic and emotional range than the guitar. I'm listening to Gwyneth Wentink on Naxos, whose playing is lovely (and matched by an equally lovely English horn soloist).

Yes, I enjoy Aranjuez better with the harp as well. I think it gives the work a more airy quality. I'm a guitarist myself, but I seldom listen to guitar music at all. That recording your listening to was apart of Naxos' ongoing Rodrigo orchestral survey. All 10 volumes are worth acquiring.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Sid

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2010, 06:08:08 PM »
Well no, I haven't heard those works you mention. Nor am I an expert in this area. But I have been getting into the music of Granados, have a couple of his works, and went to a recital where they played his Piano Trio. Yes, maybe I would connect with some of Rodrigo's lesser-known works (basically everything other than Aranjuez). But these never get played live, and that's basically what I'm most interested in (I'm not a big collector, more of a concertgoer, & I seem to collect those pieces that are coming up in concerts). Anyway, I'll keep an ear out for those pieces on the radio schedules. I seem to remember hearing something by Rodrigo on air a while back, but can't remember.

& yes, I do have a heart, it is beating as we speak! :)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2010, 06:14:03 PM »
Well no, I haven't heard those works you mention. Nor am I an expert in this area. But I have been getting into the music of Granados, have a couple of his works, and went to a recital where they played his Piano Trio. Yes, maybe I would connect with some of Rodrigo's lesser-known works (basically everything other than Aranjuez). But these never get played live, and that's basically what I'm most interested in (I'm not a big collector, more of a concertgoer, & I seem to collect those pieces that are coming up in concerts). Anyway, I'll keep an ear out for those pieces on the radio schedules. I seem to remember hearing something by Rodrigo on air a while back, but can't remember.

& yes, I do have a heart, it is beating as we speak! :)

Don't you think you're closing yourself off to classical music by only going to concerts and listening to the radio? When is an orchestra going to perform Brian's Gothic Symphony? When is an orchestra going to perform Villa-Lobos' ballet Genesis? Chances are you will never hear these works performed live. My point is that while going to concerts is apart of classical music and there's nothing like hearing one of your favorite works performed live, I think a lot of classical time should also be spent at home listening and absorbing the music, especially the music you know you'll probably never be able to hear in concert or on the radio.
 
As far radio stations go, they hardly ever play the more obscure composers whose music deserve to be heard.
 
It doesn't matter if you're a collector or not, you're not going to be able to explore classical music in depth if you don't buy more recordings of works you know you'll never hear.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 06:17:27 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline springrite

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2010, 06:25:00 PM »
Where is Rob Antecki, the composer who is the keeper of the official Joaquin Rodrigo website, when you need him?

Mirror Image is absolutely right. If you can get it, the EMI box that has all the concerti (and concertante works) can testify. I especially love the violin concerto and the piano concerto. The other works are wonderful as well.
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Sid

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2010, 06:29:17 PM »
I disagree with your thesis - sure you won't hear EVERY piece of music live, but you'll hear a good selection. Of the concerts I've attended this year, I have heard pieces by Schubert, Goossens, Bloch, Liszt, Arensky, Granados, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Brahms, Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Monteverdi, Schutz, Morten Lauridsen, Mozart, Schumann, Berlioz, Weber, Dvorak, Ravel, Barber, Crumb, Rojas, Golijov the list goes on and on. & that's not covering what I will hear in the next couple of months - things like Berg, Carter, Bruckner, Stravinsky, Kats-Chernin, Mills, etc. etc.

There's alot of variety in concert schedules here in Australia, all you have to do is look and find out about what gigs are on. The radio & internet are a good source for this info. There's something going on every week/weekend. For me, money is the only limitation.

I do have about 300 classical cd's (plus LP's & tapes), but I'm collecting less and less now, I want to spend that money on concerts.

As for Rodrigo, it's interesting how (from what I've read) he remained in the traditional idioms (& lived all his life in Spain?) whereas guys like de Falla & Carlos Surinach had to leave Spain because of Franco, who had a very conservative view of what music should be (more in line with Rodrigo than guys like the other two).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2010, 06:30:22 PM »
Where is Rob Antecki, the composer who is the keeper of the official Joaquin Rodrigo website, when you need him?

Mirror Image is absolutely right. If you can get it, the EMI box that has all the concerti (and concertante works) can testify. I especially love the violin concerto and the piano concerto. The other works are wonderful as well.

Sid is singing a very different tune already, but let's not forget the posts he has made above, which are both contradictory to each other. On one hand, he thinks Rodrigo is too conservative for his tastes, but yet, on the other hand, he hasn't heard hardly any of his music to make such an assertion. His logic really confuses the hell out of me.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2010, 06:34:42 PM »
I disagree with your thesis - sure you won't hear EVERY piece of music live, but you'll hear a good selection. Of the concerts I've attended this year, I have heard pieces by Schubert, Goossens, Bloch, Liszt, Arensky, Granados, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Brahms, Arvo Part, Eric Whitacre, Monteverdi, Schutz, Morten Lauridsen, Mozart, Schumann, Berlioz, Weber, Dvorak, Ravel, Barber, Crumb, Rojas, Golijov the list goes on and on. & that's not covering what I will hear in the next couple of months - things like Berg, Carter, Bruckner, Stravinsky, Kats-Chernin, Mills, etc. etc.

There's alot of variety in concert schedules here in Australia, all you have to do is look and find out about what gigs are on. The radio & internet are a good source for this info. There's something going on every week/weekend. For me, money is the only limitation.

I do have about 300 classical cd's (plus LP's & tapes), but I'm collecting less and less now, I want to spend that money on concerts.

As for Rodrigo, it's interesting how (from what I've read) he remained in the traditional idioms (& lived all his life in Spain?) whereas guys like de Falla & Carlos Surinach had to leave Spain because of Franco, who had a very conservative view of what music should be (more in line with Rodrigo than guys like the other two).

It doesn't matter if you disagree with me or not, the bottomline is you will never gain any kind of knowledge about classical if you don't explore what's beyond the concert repertoire. I bet even though you have probably been to more concerts than I have that I have heard a lot more music than you have. You can make all the excuses you want to make, but the fact remains that I'm much more open to exploring this vast music than you are.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Sid

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2010, 06:54:05 PM »
Well you can stick to "canned" music, I'll stick to "real" music.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2010, 06:58:18 PM »
Well you can stick to "canned" music, I'll stick to "real" music.

:D Canned music? That's a good one! No problem. :D
 
With your logic, nobody would ever hear anything beyond the concert hall and all would be lost forever. Thank God my attitude about this music isn't as jaded as yours.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

oabmarcus

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2010, 07:03:41 PM »
:D Canned music? That's a good one! No problem. :D
 
With your logic, nobody would ever hear anything beyond the concert hall and all would be lost forever. Thank God my attitude about this music isn't as jaded as yours.

by that logic movies can never be "real".

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2010, 07:16:44 PM »
by that logic movies can never be "real".

Well I just find it interesting that somebody who claims to love this music, doesn't have any interest in hearing what's beyond the concert repertoire and on the radio. What about the more unknown and obscure works by the acknowledged master composers? What about those obscure composers you will not hear in the concert hall or on the radio? I mean it's just a bad attitude to have about music for anyone with any interest in this music to have.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2010, 07:17:16 PM »
I have a good friend who is slowly going blind. I will be giving him some Rodrigo CDs to inspire him. 
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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2010, 07:19:49 PM »
I was only being flippant regarding "canned" vs. "real" music.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2010, 07:22:08 PM »
I was only being flippant regarding "canned" vs. "real" music.

It's okay, Sid. I understand your position much better now.
“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” - Claude Debussy

karlhenning

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Re: Joaquin Rodrigo (1901 - 1999)
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2010, 04:22:07 AM »
Well you can stick to "canned" music, I'll stick to "real" music.

It's not either/or.