Leo Brouwer: A Desperate Solution to a Problem (INJURIES. RECOVERY. GUITAR)

In a 1984 interview in CG, the great Cuban composer/guitarist Leo Brouwer revealed to writer Gareth Walters that an issue with a single fingernail had serious consequences.

This is becoming dramatic and I have to solve it because I need to play. It’s a necessity for me to play and to communicate through the guitar. The problem started when I contracted some allergy that was starting to spoil my nail, and the sound of this infected nail was horrible. I had some very important concerts coming up; the most important was one of a series in New York called “The Great Virtuosos,” including Segovia, Yepes, Lagoya, and me, and if I cancelled it would have been awful. So I transposed all the actions and articulations of that finger onto the other three.


I played the concert and was very happy with the results, but then continued a very long tour of the States—about 30 concerts—then Canada, then Belgium, then Holland, and as a result of all this playing, the finger atrophied and the tendon damaged. It is still damaged and I cannot play perfectly, and so I have to reconstruct my hand.