THE MUSIC THAT WILL PLAY THE DAY I DIE | JOAQUÍN RODRIGO CONCIERTO DE ARANJUEZ

concierto de aranjuez

Every time I listen to the melody, I close my eyes and feel myself slowly ascending towards the sky. I’m not a religious person, but it’s the way this music makes you feel. Not to mention that my eyes fill with tears 😭 What a trhill, what a Trembol! Please, listen to these 70 seconds:

The emotion that emanates from this music is indescribable. Much of it has to do with what Joaquín Rodrigo was going through when composing the concerto. We tell you the meaning and the best recordings of Concierto de Aranjuez (Aranjuez Concert).

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Joaquín Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez. II. Adagio | Paco de Lucía

Trembol | What is the meaning of Concierto de Aranjuez?

Let me put you in context. The Concert of Aranjuez (Concierto de Aranjuez) was composed by Joaquín Rodrigo, who was blind, in 1939, at the end of the Spanish Civil War.

The famous guitarist of the time Regino Sainz de la Maza asked Rodrigo to write a guitar work that allowed him to show off accompanied by an orchestra, something pretty unusual. Today it is the work that every guitarist aspires to be able to play.

Joaquín returns to Paris where he lived with his pregnant wife, Vicky. She falls ill, suffers a miscarriage and is about to die. It is at that time when maestro Rodrigo composes the concert.

The loneliness of his apartment and the sadness of the loss of a son, as well as the final hope of seeing his wife recover are impregnated in the work. Each feeling is represented in different parts of the composition, as we explain in the ‘Concierto de Aranjuez journey‘ section.

The work premiered in Barcelona in 1940 with the fear that the sound of the guitar would be hidden under the power of the orchestra, but it didn’t happen (in the ‘Technical Note‘ we explain why).

When Joaquín Rodrigo was asked about the origin of the work, he always told that he went on his honeymoon to Aranjuez (a city in the south of Madrid, summer residence of both the Habsburgs and the Bourbons, famous for its magnificent Royal Palace and gardens), and the inspiration came from there. He was trying to evoke the past times in the gardens of Aranjuez, its fountains, its trees, the birds, etc. He never confirmed that the play spoke of his wife and unborn daughter.

 

Joaquín Rodrigo recounted the composition process of Concierto de Aranjuez:

Aranjuez Concert

Aranjuez Gardens, inspiration for Concierto de Aranjuez (Photo by Miguel Ángel Sanz on Unsplash)

Meaning Concierto Aranjuez
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I had become fond of the idea of composing a work for guitar and orchestra by dint of judging it difficult, I heard the entire Adagio sung in my head at once, without hesitation, and … immediately, with hardly any transition, the third movement. I quickly realized that the work was done. Our intuition does not fool us on this…

…if something like inspiration, that irresistible and supernatural force led me to the Adagio and the final Allegro, I got to the first movement through reflection, calculation and will. It was the last movement; I finished the work where I should have started it.

TUNES

Find more stories and songs that you will love.

You can’t miss ⭐️ Concierto de Aranjuez journey

The Aranjuez Concerto (Concierto de Aranjuez) consists of 3 movements (parts). The second, Adagio, is the most popular. An Adagio is nothing more than an indication of the speed in which you have to play the music, in concrete, it means slow (between 54 and 78 quarter notes per minute), you’ll find more details in our Technical Note. This is the journey the Adagio takes us through:

The first time you play each video you will hear only the part we are talking about 👍 If you play it a second time, the song is played from the beginning. Sorry, that’s how YouTube works. If you want to listen only to the specifi part again, you have to reload the page 😒

1. The Work begins with the guitar imitating a heartbeat, that of his unborn daughter.

2. The heartbeats are now played by the orchestra. It is very subtle, try to listen to the double basses in the background and you will hear it.

3. The conversation between Joaquín Rodrigo (the guitar) and God (the orchestra) begins … ‘Why have you taken my daughter? why is my wife sick? I love them both.

 

4. The guitar gets nervous, it wants to say many things very quickly. God (the orchestra) raises the tone imposing itself.

5. The guitar cries with grief first and then turns serious, but the orchestra prevails again.

 

6. This is the final guitar monologue, ending in an explosion. Pay attention to the last seconds, they are pure passion!

 

7. God (the orchestra) gives his final explanation… will take care of the girl, and his wife will recover. It’s the most emotional part.

8. Joaquín Rodrigo final acceptance being at peace with God.

9. Listen to the final guitar pluck, it’s 10 seconds in which the baby’s soul finally ascends to heaven.

Did you know...?

Concierto de Aranjuez is the most important Spanish work in history.

The chords of the Aranjuez Concert (Concierto de Aranjuez) sounded on NASA’s Apollo VII space mission

On September 3, 1939, two days after World War II broke out, Joaquín Rodrigo and his wife, who lived in Paris, entered Spain through the French border, bringing with them the manuscript of Concierto de Aranjuez.

3 works to know Joaquín Rodrigo 🥇

1. “Concierto Andaluz: Tempo di Bolero”. It is magnificent, the rhythm and the Spanish folklore translated into music 💃

2. “Fantasía para un gentilhombre. II. Españoleta y fanfarria de la caballería de Nápoles”. Written for guitar and small orchestra, it is a delight.

3. “Concierto Heroico. III. Largo”. It is a work for piano that makes you dream of medieval times with jousts and knights.

Much more | Report, Concierto de Aranjuez versions…

Paco de Lucía Concierto de Aranjuez

Paco de Lucía and Joaquín Rodrigo. Concierto de Aranjuez.

Concierto de Aranjuez Best Vocal Versions 🎤

The Adagio (2nd movement) of Concierto de Aranjuez, has been versioned with lyrics several times by great artists such as: Amalia Rodríguez, Dalida, Plácido Domingo, Montserrat Caballé, Sarah Brightman or Nana Mouskouri. These 3 are remarkable:

1. Richard Anthony‘s version in 1967. He was the first to make a vocal arrangement. He called it “Aranjuez Mon Amour”. It was the greatest hit of his career but Joaquín Rodrigo did not like it, although on time he accepted it and they even hugged on TV.

2. Demis Roussos released a gorgeous english cover called “Follow Me” in 1982. It stands out for its beautiful voice and lyrics:

Follow me to a land across the shining sea
Rising above the fully of the night
Into the light beyond the tears
And all the years we have wasted

3. Andrea Bocelli has sung the Spanish version on multiple occasions. It’s called “En Aranjuez con tu Amor (In Aranjuez with your love)”. Like everything Bocelli sings, it’s a delight. This live version from 2011 is particularly thrilling.

Technical Note about Concierto de Aranjuez

How did Joaquín Rodrigo ensure that the sound of the guitar was not hidden by the orchestra?

Before the concerto‘s premiere, the possible shielding effect of the orchestra’s sound on the guitar was greatly feared, but Joaquín Rodrigo had already found the solution when composing it. The trick was to alternate the entries of guitar and orchestra reaching a high contrast intensity. If you listen carefully, you’ll notice that during the concert, the guitar is never covered or muffled, on the contrary, it is heard clean in all its splendor. There is a conversation established between the guitar and the orchestra, when one speaks, the other remains silent.

Does the children's song 'Antón Pirulero' sound at the Concert?

Well! It turns out true. In the 1st movement, which is known because it’s a extremely complicated start for guitarists, there are parts where you can hear the chords of a popular Spanish song for kids called “Antón Pirulero”.

It is not that Joaquín Rodrigo did it on purpose. This is one of those melodies from our childhood that remain hidden somewhere in our head and comes out unexpectedly.

One of the several occasions where you can hear it is on second 35 of the 1st movement:

When are the gardens of Aranjuez recreated?

The entire third movement is impregnated with the gardens of Aranjuez, the birds, the fountains, the streams of water … you can enjoy it here.

How many movements does Concierto de Aranjuez have and what keys are they in?

The Aranjuez Concert (Concierto de Aranjuez) is divided into 3 movements: Allegro con spirito, Adagio and Allegro gentile.

  • 1st Movement: Allegro con Spirito: In D Major key, it has the structure of a sonata.
  • 2nd Movement: Adagio: In B minor key. The melody, which is played with the English horn, guitar and strings, is reminiscent of the Holy Week processions where ‘saetas‘ are played.
  • 3rd Movement: Allegro gentile: In B Major key, it has the structure of a rondo (typical court dance).

In case you were wondering, ‘Allegro‘ means that the movement is played fast and ‘Adagio‘ slow, but neither of the two terms refers to the emotion with which the author wants to convey. To express that intention, we use adjectives. In this case, ‘con Spirito (with spirit)‘ indicates that the movement should be played in an animated and energetic way. ‘Gentile (courteous)‘ is almost the opposite, softer and gentle.

Narciso Yepes, Pepe Romero… | The Best Concierto de Aranjuez recordings

1. Narciso Yepes

2. Pepe Romero

3. John Williams

4. Regino Sainz de la Maza

5. Paco de Lucía

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Header and Featured Image used in this article and on Social Media: Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash