Sunday, February 01, 2009
Francisco Tárrega (Francisto Tarrega y Eixea) (November 21, 1852 - December 15, 1909) was a Spanish composer and guitarist. Born in Villarreal, Spain, he fell into an irrigation channel when he was young, which rendered him nearly blind. Partially due to this accident, the family moved to Castellon and enrolled him in music classes. Both his first music teachers, Eugeni Ruiz and Manuel Gonzalez, were blind.
In 1862, guitarist Julián Arcas heard the young prodigy and encouraged him to journey to Barcelona, a hub for musicians. However, Tarrega was soon brought back by his father. , He entered the Madrid Conservatory in 1874, under the sponsorship of a wealthy merchant named Antonio Canesa, where he studied composition under Emilio Arrieta. By the end of the 1870s, he was teaching the guitar (Emilio Pujol and Miguel Llobet were pupils of his) and giving regular concerts. A virtuoso on his instrument, he was known as the "Sarasate of the guitar". He later settled in Barcelona, and died there in 1909. As well as his original works for the guitar, which include Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Capricho Árabe and Danza Mora, he arranged pieces by others for the instrument, including works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin and Felix Mendelssohn. As with several of his Spanish contemporaries, such as his friend Isaac Albéniz, he had an interest in combining the prevailing Rom.
Francisco Tárrega's music and style of guitar playing became strongly influential in the twentieth century. He was central to reviving the guitar as a solo instrument in recital and concerts. His output was modest, having composed only 78 original scores and 120 transcriptions - mostly for his own use. Among his most popular works for the guitar are Recuerdos de la Alhambra, Capricho Árabe and Danza Mora.
He is also the composer of what has been claimed to be "probably the world's most heard tune": the Nokia ringtone, Nokia tune, or simply Nokia, also used in advertising spots, is based on Tárrega's Gran Vals. His music also inspired Mike Oldfield to arrange Tárrega's tremolo study Recuerdos de la Alhambra for the soundtrack of the film "The Killing Fields".
As with several of his Spanish contemporaries, such as his friend Isaac Albéniz, he had an interest in combining the prevailing Romantic trend in classical music with Spanish folk elements, and transcribed several of Albéniz's piano pieces. The noted contemporary guitarist and composer Angelo Gilardino has written that Tárrega's 9 Preludios are "... the deepest musical thought of Tárrega in the most concentrated form."