As with Pau Casals, so Andres Segovia was a master of his instrument. If Casals established the cello’s proper place in the orchestra and as a solo instrument, Segovia raised the guitar to an entirely new status on the concert platform. Born in 1893 in Linares, Jaen – where there is now a statue erected to his honour – he died in Madrid in 1987. He was self-taught and was playing in public by the time he was sixteen and after performing throughout Spain, in 1919 toured Uruguay and Argentina for the first time. Quickly he became known internationally, giving recitals in France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria and later in Russia, Denmark and Britain. His first visit to the U.S.A. was in 1928 and in the 1950’s his recitals there became an annual event.
Like so many others, he left Spain in 1936, settling in Montevideo for some years, giving many recitals throughout South America. He was responsible for the publication of classical transcriptions for the guitar and Turina, Ponce and Castlenuovo-Tedesco were amongst the many composers who wrote original music for him to play.
He recorded over 50 albums of L.P.’s, his final album ‘Reveries’ being published in 1977. The problem that the guitar with its modest sound couldn’t easily fill a concert hall, was partly resolved as luthiers (the manufacturers of string instruments) experimented with new woods and designs and with the advent of nylon strings, the guitar became a bolder instrument with a more consistent tone. And today of course the positioning of a microphone helps the guitar to match the sound of a chamber orchestra in a concerto.
He was the supreme teacher of the guitar and his master classes influenced generations of performers, including John Williams whom we have referred to in the postings about Rodrigo. He gave his last recital in Florida when he was 94.
He had set himself the goal of bringing guitar studies to every university in the world, to have the guitar played on every major platform just as the piano and violin, and to pass on his love for the instrument for generations to follow. And in this quest he was profoundly successful. It is hardly surprising that he should be known as the father of the classical guitar.