The Late Romantic to Modern Era

In the late romantic era one name stood out above the rest of Spanish composers for the guitar: Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909).

Fondly remembered today as "the father of classical guitar," Francisco Tárrega set the universal standard for the modern classical guitar, just as Paganini did for the violin, and Chopin and Liszt did for the piano.

When Tárrega encountered a guitar by Antonio de Torres, with its absolute superiority over other guitars of the time, he perceived limitless possibilities, both for performance and composition. For both of these, he was responsible for major contributions. He systematized the central principles of guitar technique and performance and adapted them to the authenticity of the "new" instrument.

Tárrega also transformed the guitar repertoire - through his own compositions and transcriptions of piano works by such composers as Chopin, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Schumann, as well as his Spanish contemporaries Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados.

The great 20th century champion of the classical guitar, Spaniard Andrés Segovia (1893-1987), wanted most fervently to study with Tárrega when he was a young man but, alas, the master died when he was a young teenager.

Andrés Segovia took the classical guitar into the modern concert world of radio recordings and, in the 1950s to the 1980s, of videos. He played tiredlessly before large audiences around the world, and encouraged and commissioned modern composers to write music for the guitar. He broadened world-wide audience support for the instrument and was a fundamental force in bringing it to modern respectability among musicians and the academic world.