Career recounted by Jean-Pierre Jumez in 1981, in collaboration with the maestro in New York
It's always the last one". At each of Segovia’s concerts, it is feared that he will decide to abandon the stage to rest on his laurels. But this year again, he performed three times on the French stages.
While most biographers span the Master's date of birth over a period from 1890 to 1896, he claims to have been born on 21 February 1893. His birth certificate, obtained by Domingo Prat in 1930, however, indicates the date of 17 March 1893, in Linares, Andalusia.
A great storyteller, Segovia likes to talk about his beginnings as a self-taught artist as the only formula that has allowed him to avoid the traditional conflict between teacher and student. In fact, as a victim of family opposition, he had little choice.
Andrés Segovia describes how he fell in love head over heels with the guitar in his autobiography (published by McMillan): "I contemplated it for a long time before waking up to its resonances. The grace of its curves, the old gold of its fine-grained table, the delicate ornamentation around the rosette, the fine neck rising from the austere bust, surrounded by rosewood, and ending in an angelic figure, all its features, lines, and graceful body penetrated my heart as deeply as the beauty of a woman, who, as predestined by heaven, suddenly appears before a man to become his beloved companion....", which inspired his son's, Andrés Segovia Junior, drawing, a painter in Paris,
His first public recital took place at the great theatre of Madrid: the Athenaeum, in 1916.
After a tour of Spain and South America, he made his real debut in Paris, in the Salle du Conservatoire, in 1924. "It was out of the question," he says, "to consider a career without performing in Paris at the time. Paris was the musical nest". Indeed: dominating a packed room, Madame Debussy's box harboured Paul Dukas, Manuel de Falla, Albert Roussel, Joaquin Nin. On the programme, among others, is the first performance of Roussel's composition, entitled... Segovia! which, probably, became the first of a multitude of works that would later be dedicated to him.
Until the Spanish Civil War, he made extensive tours at the time: first to Europe, including the Soviet Union, where his handwritten autobiography in French ("French is practically a mother tongue for me; don't think that, under the pretext that I couldn't get rid of my southern accent, I didn't study all your literature and philosophy in your language! ") is carefully preserved (Vladimir Slavskii's private collection).
Then the United States
in 1928: his first recital there took place at the New York Town Hall.
"Golden Jubilee" of this event was successfully celebrated in America
in 1978, with many festivities.
During the Spanish Civil War, Andrés Segovia settled in Uruguay with his Spanish wife (then his second marriage). He undertook an extensive tour of South America, and contributed to the rebirth of the noble aspect of the guitar on the continent. He influenced teachers such as Abel Carlevaro, and brought to light many composers, such as Jorge Gomez Crespo (whose famous song Nortena he recorded).
At the end of the hostilities, A. Segovia resumed his incessant tours, and shared his activities between his three main homes: Madrid (and, in addition, his magnificent country house: Los Olivos), Geneva and New York.
Even now, his
itineraries are admired by travel professionals. In July, he was in
August in Italy to receive multiple awards (including the Grand Cross
Order of Merit and the Golden Lion of Venice), in October in the United
Kingdom, and this month he will be in France.
Andrés Segovia has been able to captivate huge crowds with his deep, vibrant and regular sound, and also thanks to his eternal search for balance. His style, certainly, romantic, leaves no one indifferent, even if this romanticism sometimes overflows into works that might not need it (his rubati in JS Bach's works have become famous). On the other hand, he succeeds, through his personality and his projection, in creating an almost magical atmosphere. It is not uncommon to hear loud applause when he enters the stage as when he leaves.
"Elle apparut pour devenir ma compagne aimée"
Here is for example how
Bernard Gavoty, in his series Vingt
Grands Interprètes, (Twenty Great Performers) felt and
From this point of view, the enormous discography that we owe him cannot reflect the "vibration" emitted during his concerts. It would be futile to try to draw up a list of his recordings: he himself has lost track of them. A series of twenty albums has just been re-issued by DECCA in the United States.
Countless composers have devoted enough admiration to A. Segovia to dedicate works to him. We can quote:
Macareña's original score, way before it became Altanta's Olympic games
hymn. A macareña refers to the girls of Macareña district in Sevilla.
It also refers to a lady proud and haughty.
In this regard, it is
curious to note the little consideration Segovia has for Villa-Lobos as
guitarist. H. Villa-Lobos' fascinating companion, Mindinha, to
many works are dedicated, and who currently manages the Villa-Lobos
Rio de Janeiro, made me listen to recordings of the composer performing
works on the guitar, during an impromptu recording session: the result
delicate, subtle, technically correct interpretation that should, in
settle the many controversies generated by the different possible
of his pieces.
The huge repertoire of contemporary music for guitar, certainly generated by the Segovia "wave", is now being exploited by young guitarists. French composers have also been subject to this wave: Francis Poulenc (Sarabande, Embarkation for Cythera), Georges Auric (Homage to Mudarra), André Jolivet (Deux études de Concert, Serenade), Darius Milhaud (Segoviana), Jacques Bondon (Swing 2, Concerto de Mars), Henri Tomasi (Muletier des Andes, Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra), Jacques Charpentier (Etudes, Concerto for String Guitar and Orchestra), Claude Bolling (Concerto for Classical Guitar and Jazz Piano. Concerto for Guitar, Flute and Piano), Jacques Castérède (Homage to Pink Floyd, Rhapsody, Concerto for Guitar and Symphony Orchestra) and many others...
LUCK AND FATE
For some, the dimension of Andrés Segovia's character is not enough to explain his unique career: many also see in it the good conjunction of the creation of the so-called "concert guitar" by A. Torres at the end of the last century with the spread and technical progress of recordings (we have a number of Miguel Llobet's recordings, who hated himself on record - but only one "recording" was possible per piece- as well as Agustin Barrios, who could not afford a "great" guitar, nor even put in it the gut strings he wanted.
To this is naturally added the revolution in guitar strings, with, in particular, the replacement of guts by nylon, under the impetus of Albert Augustine in the United States and Savarez in France.
Andrés Segovia himself set me on track at a dinner after his recital at Avery Fischer Hall in New York in March 1979. I performed that same evening at Carnegie Hall (Recital): "The miracle of my life, I owe to my strength of character, but I was also very much helped by luck. All this has allowed me, without interruption, to progress slowly but surely along the path I have set for myself".
And he still and always keeps this path: what better indication than the wonderful repartee of his son Carlos* (10 years old at the time), given to him by his young and charming wife, Emilita. The school teacher asked Carlos about his father's profession: "Guitar student! "
*Carlos Andrés Segovia y Corral,
2nd Marquis of Salobreña (born 22 May 1970 in London, United Kingdom)
is now a philosopher and a scholar of religious studies.
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