Segovia: A Centenary Celebration Part IX, Segovia’s Published Editions (1955-1958)

classical guitarist andres segovia and two of his books

Our previous column looked at some of the publications which involved Andrés Segovia as editor or dedicatee between 1945 and 1954. These days of musical harvest continued well into the next decade, laying down a remarkable diversity of works many of which are still of immense interest in the guitar repertoire today. This flow of editions is comparable with Segovia’s prolific publishing output of new works in the 1920s. It seems appropriate therefore to continue our list of Segovia’s published works from 1955, when with undaunted energy, almost 50 years after his debut in Granada in 1909, he was the undoubted supreme master of the guitar, attaining an international reputation hitherto unparalleled in guitar history.

Note: This is part 9 of a 17-part series from the Classical Guitar archive.

Estudios—Daily Studies: Andrés Segovia, G.A. 178, publ. Schott, London, 1955. These Etudes include Oración (dedicated to the soul of Manuel Ponce), Rembranza (dedicated to Vladimir Bobri). Oración was first recorded by John Williams in December 1958 for his second album (Delyse ECB 3151, later issued on Decca 421 165-2). In the sleevenotes to the original recording, issued in 1959, John Duarte commented that “the Maestro is an accomplished composer of delicate miniatures.”

Concerto for Guitar and Small Orchestra (reduction for guitar and piano): Heitor Villa-Lobos, Publ. Editions Max Eschig, Paris, 1955. This work, dedicated to Segovia, was written in Rio de Janeiro in 1951, and premiered by Segovia on 6 February, 1956, with the Symphony Orchestra of Houston, conducted by the composer. (What a pity that Segovia did not make a recording with Villa-Lobos conducting!)

Concerning this work, Turibio Santos wrote in Heitor Villa-Lobos and the Guitar (publ. Wise Owl Music, Ireland, 1985):

…it had not been a simple route to this premiere. Arminda Villa-Lobos, the composer’s second wife, was the godmother for this Concerto, a work which Andrés Segovia had asked for many times. But the composer had been reluctant, either through lack of time or perhaps due to lack of enthusiasm about combining guitar and orchestra. But at last Segovia received the longed-for work, only to be disappointed—it turned out to be a Fantasia Concertante, without a cadenza… Andrés Segovia argued his case with Mindinha, who pleaded on his behalf with Villa-Lobos. After various onslaughts (with flowers and champagne at the hotel) the cadenza was ready.

At the premiere it was Arminda herself who increased the number of piano markings on the orchestral parts—turning p into pp, and pp into ppp. After a while Villa­-Lobos was no longer sure whether the work was really for guitar and orchestra or just for a guitar solo!

The belated provision of the cadenza may explain the long delay between the Concerto’s composition and its premiere. The early popularity of the work perhaps owes more to Julian Bream than to its dedicatee. Bream discovered the work in the BBC archives and began to perform the Concerto out of sheer enthusiasm for the work’s warmth and bravura. He gave one of the first European performances on 23 June, 1957, with the Aldeburgh Festival Orchestra conducted by Charles Mackerras. His recording appeared in 1972 (RCA SB 6852). This was followed two years later by John Williams’s recording (CBS S 76369). Frederick Fuller remarks in the sleeve notes:


By an odd coincidence I myself had a hand in bringing the Concerto into more general circulation by persuading Villa-Lobos in 1957 to insist that Eschig release the score so that Julian Bream could perform it for the BBC.

sor sonata 2, op 25 classical guitar book

Second Sonata, Op.25: Fernando Sor, revised and fingered by Segovia, publ. Ricordi Americana, Buenos Aires, 1956. Segovia recorded the Allegro from this Sonata on An Andrés Segovia Recital (Decca DL 9633, reviewed in Gramophone, March, 1953). Comparison with Brian Jeffery’s facsimile edition of Sor’s Complete Works for Guitar (publ. Tecla, 1977) provides many indications of Segovia’s approach to this era of music, especially in the adding of slurs, left and right-hand fingering, stretching, movement across or along the strings, etc.

If players nowadays perform this piece they are probably unlikely to choose Segovia’s edition, yet at the same time this was a most significant publication, showing the Maestro in detailed processes of editing a Sonata he seems rarely to have performed in its entirety.

Minuet: Haydn, transcribed Segovia, publ. Ricordi Americana, Buenos Aires, 1956. This was recorded by Segovia on Andrés Segovia Plays (Decca DL 9734), and is an original transcription by him, not a reworking of a Tárrega precedent. This is the kind of arrangement which has tended to fall from favour with recitalists, as contemporary performers such as Eliot Fisk with a penchant for Haydn prefer to play an entire sonata rather than a single movement. Segovia however could delight his audience by including this kind of piece as a convenient encore.

Tonadilla on the name of Andrés Segovia, Op. 170 No.5, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, publ. G.A. No 191, Schotts, 1956. This work, written in 1954, was the composer’s last piece to be dedicated to Segovia, though Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s guitar works extended to Opus 210. It was not the last of this composer’s prolific output to be played by the Maestro, however, as Segovia later recorded ten movements of Platero y Yo, Op. 190 (dedicated to Aldo Bruzzichelli).

In Tonadilla, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, using the Spanish alphabet, assigns one note in the scale to each letter. The melody in the piece therefore fits the letters A-N­R-E-S S-E-G-O-V-I-A as set out in the scale given at the top of the score.

Minuet, Haydn, Andante Largo, Sor, Triste No. 4, Aguirre, Canción del Norte, Op. 68, No. 41, Alegre Ladrador, Op. 68, No. 10, Schumann, Song without Words, Op. 30, No. 3, Mendelssohn: transcriptions by Andrés Segovia, publ. Ricardi Americana, Buenos Aires, 1956. This delightful series featured a number of small classical transcriptions which Segovia had recorded during the early 1950s. Though they are essentially encore pieces, they represent also the kind of transcription which has become less fashionable in recent years among recitalists. Close attention to the detailed fingering makes clear many aspects of Segovia’s concepts of tone colour, interpretation, and continuity on the instrument.

Impromptu: A. Segovia, publ. Biblioteca Fortea, Madrid, 1958. It is surprising that this rather trivial composition, presumably from an earlier era, was published at this time. It reappeared in Five Short Works by Segovia, published in Kalmus Guitar Series, of Edwin F. Kalmus, New York, (undated) along with Tonadilla (published by fortea, 1965), and Tres Preludios.

Rondo, Op. 129, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, G.A. 168, Schott, publ. 1958. Dedicated to Segovia, this work was written in 1946, and arrived in the public domain very late. It is now a neglected work, and certainly Segovia displayed little enthusiasm for performing or recording the piece. According to the Orphée Database, Rondo, Op. 129 appears on Beppe Ficara’s Castelnuovo-Tedesco album, with liner notes by the composer (C & M PNL 059). Another recording is by Jorge Oraison on Etcetera (ETC 1001, issued in Holland, 1982). The work requires considerable virtuosity and lasts some 7 1/2 minutes.

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