The Kennedy Center

Francisco Tarrega



Biography

Francisco Tarrega was a Spanish guitarist and composer.  His father insisted that he study both classical guitar and the piano, and he became proficient on both when a young man.   At this time in Europe, the guitar was considered an inferior instrument as compared to the piano.  However, Tarrega acquired an excellent guitar made by the renowned luthier, Antonio Torres, and with this instrument, he resurrected the reputation of the guitar in the 19th Century. 
 
Born 21 November 1852, Tarrega entered the Madrid Conservatory in 1874 and studied theory, harmony, and the piano.  In 1877, he had become a skillful and talented guitarist and he earned his living as a music teacher and concert guitarist.  He gave highly successful recitals in Paris and London in 1880 and was known as "the Sarasate of the guitar".
 
After he married in 1881, he settled in Barcelona in 1885 where he remained for the rest of his life.
 
He soon acquired a repertory of his own compositions, and arrangements for the guitar from piano works by Mendelssohn, Gottschalk, Thalberg, and others.  He became friends with the Spanish "nationalist" composers, Albeniz and Granados, and he transcribed many of their works for the guitar.  He also adapted other works such as Beethoven's piano sonatas and Chopin's preludes.  He gave popular concerts throughout Spain from 1885 to 1903.
 
Unfortunately, at the height of his fame, he suffered a paralysis of his right side in 1906, and he never fully recovered.  Nonetheless, he did appear in 1909 and received an enthusiastic reception.  He died 15 December 1909.
 
Tarrega's influence on the 20th century guitar music was tremendous and his legacy consists of compositions of 78 original works and 120 transcriptions for the solo guitar.
 
Francisco Tarrega