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Agustin Barrios Mangore

"AgustiĀ­n Barrios Mangore - seen as one of the greatest classical guitar musicians of all time by many..."

He is now the most acknowledged Paraguayan musician in history. It wasn't always so, however, and due to some famous musicians championing his music, he has come back into favoritism today. Indeed, the world-famous classical guitar player John Williams has said of him...

"I think he's the greatest guitar composer of all, in other words, a guitarist who wrote guitar music. He had a real feel for form...you never thought his pieces were too long or too short, and melodically his pieces used to join up...they were never just one little clever idea, one tune often takes you into another part of the tune almost like the great jazz guitarist Django Rheinhardt"

Born in the city of San Juan in 1885, Agustin Barrios was one of eight children. Both his parents were musical, and his mother was quite a good guitarist herself. After early study of the guitar masters: Sor, Aguado and Tarrega with his teacher, Gustavo Escalda, he was widely regarded as a child prodigy at the age of thirteen.

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Back to Mangore...

Mangore even excelled in other fields including poetry and calligraphy when he attended Colegio Nacional de Asuncion as one of the youngest university students in Paraguayan history. In addition to that,  he spoke multiple languages and also studied mathematics and philosophy. Moreover, he believed as was instilled in him by his family at an early age that you could not divorce the artist from culture. To be a legitimate artist, he firmly believed that you had to be immersed in modern-day culture.

Barrios it could be said behaved curiously, indeed eccentric, in later life. He took the name of a famous native chieftain and took to performing in full native dress. In one of his poems,  he described how he was chosen to be..."Nitsuga Mangore, the "Paganini of the guitar" by "Tupa, the supreme spirit and protector of my people". This practice was almost reminiscent of the mystical Yogis of India who "bestow shakti" on a chosen one to continue the lineage but also engage in a special, often healing, purpose while on earth. It is obvious that his special mission was music but chiefly the guitar.

Barrios composed over three hundred works for the guitar, many of which were virtuosic. He also performed all over South America and even in Europe. He was widely accepted and respected though it is said the great Segovia didn't care much for his work except for La Catedral. That couldn't have done much for his reputation at the time seeing as Segovia was regarded as a sort of demi-god. Luckily, history has judged him to be both a quality player but more importantly, a composer of the highest rank.

Check out this great little video on YouTube of David Russell playing Julia Florida...

Mangore died at a relatively young man at fifty-nine years of age in El Salvador after being reduced to a shadow of his former self (due to heart disease). To get by, he was relying on teaching, and some modest performing. That aside he is well-loved, even revered by Paraguay as one of their greatest musical heroes. It is well-deserved!

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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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