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lunes, 11 de diciembre de 2006
Spanish Guitar player and composer (Vila-real 1852 - Barcelona 1909)
Francisco Tarrega Francisco Tarrega-Eixea was born in Vila-real. His home still preserved is located beside the Saint Pascual Baylon's Church. He was so exceptional for his time that even some guitar artists today don't know him as a classic. 

He did his musical studies in Castellon, Valencia and Madrid, creating many original compositions that even today are easily understandable. Recognised as the leader of the modern Spanish guitar movement, he played in many European cities, expanding the guitar as an expressive and modern instrument.

Even top pop artists have versioned Tarrega's compositions, as Mike Oldfield's version of "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" (Alhambra's memories).

He also did several adaptations for guitar based on compositions from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Chopin, Schumman, and others. He had several pupils that learned his techniques and ensured the continuity and evolution of the guitar for today's people joy. He died in Barcelona at the age of 57, being its remains moved to Castellón's cemetery, where his tomb can be visited. In the Vila-real's City Museum, part of his legacy is shown.

Two of his most relevant masterpieces are:

Recuerdos de la Alhambra (Alhambra's memories, now playing)

Capricho Arabe (Arabian caprice)

The International Guitar Contest Francisco Tarrega
The first week of September, the International Guitar Contest with his name -Festival Internacional de Guitarra Francisco Tarrega- is celebrated as every summer in Benicassim, touristic village on the coast, 20 Km. to the North of Vila-real. Players from all over the world come to show their ability with the instrument. Some of the mandatory pieces must be Tarrega's compositions. The prizes are economically substantious (e.g.10,000.-USD in 1999), plus a contract for a CD recording and several concerts. This Contest is supported by UNESCO as member of its International Music Festival Worldwide Association, and sponsored by the Vila-real, Benicassim and Castellon City Councils.
    Results for some past years: 1997. XXXI edition
    Kevin Gallagher, from the US, was 1997 winner, by the unanimous decission of the jury. From a total of 53 players, only 4 arrived to the final session the 5th of September. Kevin showed a great control of the guitar and played a perfect "Concert #1 by Castelnuovo-Tedesco". Second prize was for Miguel Garcia, from Castellon (Spain). Third prize was Ricardo Gallen, from Linares (Spain). The Ucranian player Alexander Rengatch had an unfortunate night and was classified in fourth place.

    1998: XXXII edition
    The contest was hold from 28th August to 4th September 1998. The croatian Ana Vidovic, 18 years old, played a perfect "Concierto de Villalobos" and became by merits the youngest winner of the Contest's history, and the third women having obtained the First Prize. Ricardo Gallén from Jaén (Spain) got the Second Prize, plus the one from the Audience and the Best Play of a Francisco Tárrega's work. The other two finalists were Francisco Sánchez from Sevilla (Spain) and the bulgarian Georges Vassilev. The great amount of public made the Benicassim City Teather become small, forcing to install a big TV screen on the nearest square so people could follow the Contest from outdoors.

    1999: XXXIV edition
    The Spaniard Ricardo J. Gallén-García was winner in the final session hold the 3rd September in the City Theater.
    Since 1985 when Ignacio Rodes (by the way, member of the Jury in 1999) won in Benicassim, no Spaniards had won, although this was quite frequent along the two first decades of the Contest. But in fact, it is in the last fifteen years when the Contest really becomes international, with an increase in the artistical level. The winner had his prize by majority , obtaining as well the one from the Audience. Second place was for Laurine Phelut (France), who got also the prize to the Best Play of a Francisco Tárrega's work by unanimity. The other two finalists were Graham Devine (UK) and José A. Escobar (Chile). The European Synphonic Orchestra, conducted by Christian Florea, was in charge of the arrangements, discovering itself as one of the best groups having ever participated, along the ten years the Contest has orchestral participation in the final session.

    2000: XXXV edition
    José Antonio Escobar, from Chile, was the winner this time, along a final that got a high expectation in the Benicassim Theatre. Second prize was for the cuban  Marco Díaz Tamayo, whereas the best interpretation of a Tarrega's play was for Romilio Orellana, also from Chile. Escobar obtained as well the audience's award. The spaniard Francisco Sánchez Bernier, from Sevilla, only spaniard in the final phase, qualified fourth. One more year, the European Simphonic Orchestra conducted by Christian Florea was in charge of the arrangements. The organization was forced to install a big TV screen in the square outside the auditorium to allow the high number of people with no chance to get a ticket to watch the final.

The Francisco Tarrega's Plectrum Orchestras Festival
Not so important, but not for this less interesting, is the festival organized every year since 1990 by the Vila-real's "Orquesta de Pulso y Púa Francisco Tarrega". This music association is formed by amateur players that show a very high level with their mandolines and guitars. This year was the VIII edition. From the 20th to the 28th of September, orchestras from Madrid, Valencia, Germany, and the organizing team played several concerts in the City Auditorium.
Versioned by top pop artists
Francisco Tarrega has even been versioned by today's top pop artists. Maybe the best example of the influence Tarrega has had in today's guitar music is the version of "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" (Alhambra's memories) that Mike Oldfield renamed as "Etude" and helped him to win an Oscar in 1984 by the movie soundtrack of "The Killing Fields".
  • Etude (courtesy of Tubular Bells webmaster)
  • Francisco Tarrega Gallery                Francisco Tarrega Biography
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