CONCIERTO DE ARANJUEZ
Joaquín Rodrigo biography [1901-1999] The blind Spanish composer who translated the soul into music
Joaquín Rodrigo is the composer of one of the most beautiful and touching melodies of all time, Concierto de Aranjuez. Blind since he was 3 years old, escaping from the Spanish Civil War and World War II, but always accompanied by his wife Vicky whom he adored, he managed to compose dozens of wonderful works becoming one of the most loved and admired figures of the contemporary classical music.
🏆 GREATEST HIT and 💛 TREMBOL FAVOURITE
Joaquín Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez (II. Adagio)
We are not going to reveal much because we have prepared a complete post unveiling the meaning of ‘Concierto de Aranjuez‘ and the best recordings, but you must know it is one of the most popular concertos of all time 🌍 As an appetizer, here is a wonderful interpretation in 2015 by the Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas.
Joaquín Rodrigo Essential Works
It is a compilation of Joaquín Rodrigo’s best works released in 2021 and performed by different front-line orchestras. This is the 2nd movement of ‘Fantasía para un Gentilhombre (Fantasy for a Gentleman)’.
Joaquín Rodrigo Trembol Card
- 🗿 Name: Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre
- 🎂 Year: He was born on November 22, 1901 in Valencia (Spain). Died on July 6, 1999 (at 97 years old).
- 👫 Genres: Classical Music, although he liked to call his style “Neocasticismo (New-Traditional)”.
- ♈ Mentor: His main tutor in Paris was Paul Dukas.
- 👑 Title: He was awarded the title of 1st Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez. This is the coat of arms:
- 💿 Work: It’s really extensive. He lived a long and prolific life: 11 orchestral works, 13 concertos, 30 instrumental works (guitar, piano, violin, cello and chamber music), 15 vocal and choral works, 3 ballets, 1 zarzuela and 1 oratorio.
- 🕴 Foundation: Joaquín Rodrigo’s daughter, Cecilia, to preserve and disseminate his father’s wonderful music, founded the publishing house ‘Ediciones Joaquín Rodrigo’, and the ‘Fundación Victoria y Joaquín Rodrigo’, which houses the composer’s manuscripts. In addition, they run his Web and Social Media.
- 🔗 Official Website: www.joaquin-rodrigo.com
- 🗣 Social Media: Twitter
I am in love with music, which I would define as the greatest poetry in the world
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Joaquín Rodrigo life and works | Soul made music
Joaquín Rodrigo was born on 1901 in Valencia (Spain) being the youngest of 10 siblings, wow!
- When he was only 3 years old, he lost his sight as a result of a diphtheria epidemic. The composer commented that blindness turned him to a life of music.
- At the age of seven he entered the conservatory where he studied music theory, piano, violin and composition 🎹 🎻🎺
Joaquín Rodrigo 2 Esbozos: No.2 Pequeña Ronda (2 Sketches: No.2 Small Round)
Joaquín Rodrigo 5 Piezas Infantiles: Griterío Final (5 Children’s Pieces: Final Scream)
1923. First compositions: ‘2 Esbozos (2 Sketches)‘ and ‘Pequeña Ronda (Little Round)‘
- At 20 Joaquín Rodrigo was already an expert pianist.
- His first work for orchestra was ‘Juglares (Minstrels)’. It was successfully premiered in 1924.
- The first piece that Joaquín dedicated to his wife, which was his most ambitious work up to that moment, is “Cinco piezas infantiles (Five Children’s Pieces)”.
1926. First work for guitar: ‘Zarabanda Lejana (Far Saraband Dance)’
Joaquín sensed the guitar, it was a gift and he would write many works for it, among them, Concierto de Aranjuez
Joaquín Rodrigo Preludio al Gallo Mañanero (Prelude to the Morning Rooster)
1927. He moved to Paris to continue studying and following in the footsteps of his contemporaries such as Albéniz or Granados.
- He befriends his fellow countryman, composer Manuel de Falla, who allowed him to premiere the play ‘Preludio al gallo mañanero (Prelude to the morning rooster)’ in his concert.
- There he met the one who would become his wife, the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi, who was a fundamental piece in his personal and professional life, being his greatest collaborator.
Spanish Civil War, World Wide II and Concierto de Aranjuez
1934. Joaquín goes through a time of financial difficulties that causes him to separate from his wife. At that time, he composed ‘El Cántico de la Esposa (The Canticle of the Wife)‘ dedicated to her.
- Later he receives a scholarship that allows him to return to Paris and with his wife Vicky.
1936. The Spanish Civil Wars breaks out and Joaquín moves with his wife to Germany. They would stay there for 3 hard years as refugees, teaching music and Spanish to survive.
Joaquín Rodrigo El Cántico de la Esposa (The Canticle of the Wife)
Joaquín Rodrigo, his family and Regino Sáinz de la Maza (right). Image from Fundación Victoria y Joaquín Rodrigo
- During that time, he also composed the wonderful ‘Cuatro piezas para piano (Four pieces for piano)’ and ‘En los trigales (In the wheat fields)‘.
1938. He returns to Spain to give classes during the summer at the Menéndez Pelayo University in Santander.
- During the return trip to Paris, he dines with the guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza and the Marquis of Bolarque. The former asks him to compose a concerto for guitar and orchestra. You already know the result, it’s called ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’, about which you will find out everything on this other article. 😀
Joaquín Rodrigo Cuatro Piezas para Piano. Plegaria de la Infanta de Castilla (Four Pieces for Piano. Prayer of the Infanta of Castilla)
1939. Joaquín and Victoria finally return to Spain only 2 days before the Second World War breaks out. They brought with them the complete manuscript of ‘Concierto de Aranjuez (Concert of Aranjuez)’.
The 40s, 50s and 60s | Non-stop composing 🎻
Joaquín Rodrigo Concierto Heroico, para Piano: III. Largo (Heroic Concerto, for Piano: III. Long)
1941. His daughter Cecilia is born. She is the one who currently runs his Foundation and disseminates his work.
- Joaquín Rodrigo composes one of our favourite concerts, ‘Concierto Heroico (Heroic Concerto)‘ and ‘Concierto de Estío (Summer Concert)‘.
- At this time, he composed several voice and choral works: Tríptic de Mossèn Cinto, Cuatro madrigales amatorios, Ausencias de Dulcinea and Concierto in modo galante.
1950. The amazing Spanish guitarist Narciso Yepes, together with the National Orchestra of Spain, performs Concierto de Aranjuez in Paris.
- It was a rousing success and brought Rodrigo international fame.
- From this period are: Cinco Sonatas de Castilla, Concierto serenata, and his second best known work ‘Fantasía para un gentilhombre (Fantasy for a gentleman)’.
Joaquín Rodrigo Fantasía para un Gentilhombre. II. Españoleta y fanfarria de la caballería de Nápoles (Fantasy for a Gentleman. II. Spanish and fanfare of the Naples cavalry)
Joaquín Rodrigo Concierto Andaluz: Tempo di bolero (Andalusian Concert: Bolero time)
The 60s. Joaquín Rodrigo is named doctor ‘honoris causa’ by the University of Salamanca, and he does not stop composing: Innovación y danza (Innovation and dance), Sonata Pimpante and the great ‘Concierto andaluz (Andalusian concert)’ for 4 guitars and orchestra. A spectacle!
1947. For 30 years he holds the Manuel de Falla Chair at Complutense University of Madrid
- Students from other faculties attend assiduously to see the maestro teaching 🎓
He composes for NASA, becomes Marquis and a thousand more awards 🏅
Joaquín Rodrigo A la Busca del Más Allá (In Search of the Beyond)
Joaquín Rodrigo Concierto para una fiesta (Concert for a party)
1976. Joaquín Rodrigo, whose Concierto de Aranjuez chords had already sounded in the Apollo VII space mission, dedicated this work ‘In Search of the Beyond’ to NASA, in commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Independence of the United States of America.
- From the 70s are: Concierto madrigal, Concierto pastoral, Concierto como un divertimento and one of our favourite, Concierto para una fiesta (Concert for a party) 🥳️
1986. Premiere of his latest creation, ‘Cántico de San Francisco de Asis (Canticle of Saint Francis of Assisi)’. A beautiful work for choir and orchestra.
The 90s. Joaquín receives loads of honors, perhaps the most important, the Prince of Asturias for the Arts Award in Spain, for “his extraordinary contribution to Spanish music to which he has given new impulses for a universal projection“.
- At the age of 90, king Juan Carlos I of Spain awarded him the hereditary title Marqués de los jardines de Aranjuez (Marquis of the gardens of Aranjuez).
In 1997 his wife Victoria died and he would do so in 1999. In his epitaph you can read his humble phrase:
Mi vaso es pequeño, pero bebo en mi vaso
My glass is small, but I drink from my glass
Joaquín Rodrigo. Image from Fundación Victoria y Joaquín Rodrigo
Joaquín Rodrigo was an ambassador of Spanish culture through his works, being able to capture the soul and transform it into notes.
Music was his joy and this you can feel listening to his melodies
If you feel like listening to the best Joaquín Rodrigo works all together, this is your playlist.
🤔 Google most searched questions about Joaquín Rodrigo
How did Joaquín Rodrigo compose being blind?
Joaquín Rodrigo had been blind since he was 3 years old due to diphtheria, so he used a very particular system to compose.
He first wrote music notation in braille (tactile writing system used by blind people). Then he would pass it to a staff with the help of a copyist (person who writes music).
Later he would make the final corrections and voilá! he had the definitive score 🎼
Who is the composer of 'Concierto de Aranjuez'?
Yes, I know, what a question! 😳 Well, it was Joaquín Rodrigo
Where was Joaquín Rodrigo born and died?
Joaquín Rodrigo was born and died in Spain, more specifically he was born in 1901 in a town in Valencia called Sagunto and died in 1999 at the age of 97 in Madrid.