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Concierto de Aranjuez

Most Loved Concerto for Classical Guitar

"Concierto De Aranjuez - Rodrigo's most popular work, its success establishing his reputation..."

When writing this great concierto, Rodrigo would never have imagined that it would become not only the most famous guitar concerto of all time, but one of the most popular concertos of all time of any instrument. All this and he didn't even play the classical guitar! Since it's inception in 1939 (First performed 1940) it has captured the popular imagination. Its popularity and appeal continue unabated right up to the present day.

I daresay, it shall continue well into the future. Rodrigo was perhaps one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. Borrowing heavily from the Spanish folkloric traditions, his music was rich and sensual and honest in the sense that it stayed true to its origins. In the Concierto de Aranjuez,  he was able to combine both folkloric and classical traditions so successfully that a music critic stated at the time...

"With the Concierto de Aranjuez it is impossible to find another Spanish work with such exciting picturesque qualities and formal perfection. For the first time in the history of our music the picturesque and the classical are fused, reciprocally mitigating and enlivening each other."

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Back to Concierto de Aranjuez...

The inspiration for the work was the gardens of Aranjuez which housed the summer palace of the Bourbon Kings of old. The gardens were originally built by Philip II and rebuilt by Ferdinand VI. The Concierto tries to evoke memories of this epoch, the sights, sounds, smells even emotions and feelings of the day. It is easy to imagine, in such grand surroundings that one would feel that such beauty lasts forever. Like the Egyptian kingdoms of past times it would have seemed inconceivable that such an illustrious creation should die.

Luckily for us Rodrigo has indeed captured the sensuousness, dynamism and energy of the Concierto de Aranjuez via the rhythmic and melodic interplay of the guitar and orchestra. You can "feel" the emotional essence of that whole time and place. The three movements of the Concierto de Aranjuez are: Allegro Con Spirito; Adagio; Allegro Con Brio...

As its name suggests the Allegro Con Spirito is lively and energetic and shows the guitar in its best light via fevered strumming, fast yet emotive scale passages and rhythmic punctuations of the orchestra in an equal role. Indeed, the guitar is never overpowered by the orchestra, and they intertwine melodies in an ongoing musical "conversation". There is something regal and majestic in this beautiful, exciting opening movement with its Spanish dance forms and mixed meter.

The overwhelming emotional elements of the second slow adagio border on melancholy at times, but it's the sort of melancholy you perceive as Rodrigo having "been there, done that" as it were. Indeed, it is said that Rodrigo and his wife, the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi were said to have lost a child around the time of the composition and that Rodrigo went to the piano and composed this Adagio to vent his sadness and very real anguish over the event.

Some also say the Adagio is inspired by the "Saeta", which is sung during Holy Week. This is where there is an emotional reciprocation of the women carrying a religious relic and the crowd as the statue is carried through the streets.

Whatever the real reason, this movement has become one of the famous and most loved Adagios of all time. Even the modern Jazz great Miles Davis gave his own rendition of this work, and it is said he both loved and was in awe of the work. No-one could refute the real emotional substance of this movement. Rodrigo's instrumentation was truly inspired. The mournful cry of the cor-anglais coupled with the rich and full timbre of the guitar compliment each other perfectly.

The movement finishes with a frenetic flourish of strumming and mournful "cry" as the orchestra suggests a cathartic release. The Allegro Gentile is a clever rendering of baroque-like counter-point and more modern folk melodies and classical forms. The melodies form a conversation as they are "tossed back and forth" from guitar to orchestra building to a crescendo then just as quickly as it builds, peters out into "whisper", though a definitive one!

The Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo has stood the test of time to date and shall continue to stand the test of time in the future because it is classical music in its highest form yet so accessible at the same time. People from all over the world sense immediately that there is not a gratuitous note in the concierto, rather, they sense the deep emotional feeling and sensitivity and make an immediate connection with it.

If you want to play along with the music then check this out...

Also, check out this great video on YouTube of Narciso Yepes playing the Concierto de Aranjuez...

Part 1...

Part 2...

Part 3...

By the way, you can get a historical recording by Regino sainz De La Maza (who premiered the piece in 1940) of the Concierto de Aranjuez here...

If you're really game and want to actually play the Concierto (via sheet music) to a C.D. of the orchestra part minus guitar, you can get the sheet music here...

Join the Great Guitar Tips Ezine to get regular PDF's in notation and Tab...

Here are a few related pages in which you may be interested...

Coste Etude

Tarrega Etude

Mertz Etude

Kuffner Etude

See more about the Concierto de Aranjuez here...

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Welcome to LCG! I'm Trevor Maurice, owner of this site. I hope you find inspiration in these pages to help you with  your journey of learning to play the classical guitar. You can read more of my story here...

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