Segovia: A Centenary Celebration Part VIII, Segovia’s (20!) Published Editions 1945-1954

andres segovia classical guitarist

We have seen in earlier articles how Segovia commissioned and edited many works throughout the 1920s and 1930s, establishing for himself an even wider repertoire. But the patterns of his published works in the aftermath of the Second World War were even more varied. A considerable amount of music coming off the presses provided a stock of repertoire which exerted not only an enormous influence on the up and coming players, but also had beneficial aspects for recital work and guitar pedagogy right up to the present time. A list of some of these publications with their primary effects in the guitar world offers quite a few surprises, for this is an element of Segovia’s post-war activities which tends to get overlooked.

Note: This is part 8 of a 17-part series from the Classical Guitar archive.

Twenty Studies for the Guitar, by Fernando Sor, revised, edited and fingered by Andrés Segovia, published by Edward B. Marks Music Corporation, 1945. Certain aspects of the historical perspectives of this publication were looked at in a previous article. The effects of this collection of studies were considerable and prompted, in the fullness of time, complete recordings of the edition by John William, Lucien Battaglia, and David Tanenbaum with further recordings of various studies from this edition by a number of players including Segovia himself. Numerous combinations of the pieces were performed in recitals over the years by practically all the top players, working from this edition. The pedagogic results were also enormous, placing these Twenty Studies by Sor at the centre of the work of generations of guitar students.

Oriental, Mallorca, Granada: Isaac Albéniz, transcribed Segovia, published in 1947, Celesta Publishing Co, New York, 1947. Zambra Granadina, published in 1948. These transcriptions provided the heart of Segovia’s contribution to the performance of Albéniz on the guitar. For many years they were regarded as the finest examples of the art of transcription in this field. Later attempts by editors such as Manuel Barrueco attempted to bring the transcriptions of Albéniz closer to the piano scores, for Segovia was not averse to adapting his Albéniz to fit convenient guitaristic contours of fingering and expression rather than adhering with absolute fidelity to the written score.

Prelude, Op. 16, No. 4: Alexander Scriabin, transcribed and fingered by A. Segovia, published by Celesta, New York, 1945. This is a beautiful little miniature, which loses some harmonic resonance by its transference to the guitar yet adapts to plucked strings very well. Segovia recorded the work on Decca DL 9832, and many years later Tansman wrote a set of variations on the theme (published by Max Eschig, 1972). One of the excellent features of the piano original (composed in St Petersburg, 1895) is its usual key of Eb minor with its six flats, a feature which disappears in the selection of the key of B minor in Segovia’s version. Despite the intensity of the piece, it is scarcely ever played because, removed from its context of Opus 16, it becomes too short a mouthful to taste adequately.

Four Easy Lessons: A. Segovia, Celesta, New York, 1946. Segovia was not particularly good at writing “easy” pieces, and these four items have not surfaced much over the years. No. II, dedicated to Vladimir Bobri, appears again in My Book of the Guitar (Segovia/Mendoza, published by Collins, 1979).

Five Anecdotes: Andrés Segovia, published by Guitar Review, Vol. 1, No. 4, New York, 1947. These pieces were republished in 1975 (Belwin-Mills, edited by Purcell). Before Anecdote 1, there is a dedication to Paquita Madriguera, Segovia’s second wife.

Laurindo Almeida recorded Anecdote 2 in the mid-1950s (Guitar Music of Spain, CTL 7089). His sleevenotes are as follows:

…Part of the humour of the story is in the demonstration that in matters of rhythm two times three is not the same as three times two. A good story-teller, Segovia has a “punch line” in the final measure.

Anecdote 4 was also published in My Book of the Guitar under the title of Brief Anecdote (Popular Song).

Lesson No. 12: Andrés Segovia, Guitar Review, No. 8, 1949. A pleasant little composition, with the inscription “to lighten the heavy fingers of my friend Albert Augustine.” It would be interesting to track down the other eleven lessons which may have formed part of Segovia’s intended Guitar Method.

Neblina: A. Segovia, Guitar Review, No. 12, 1951. This composition, dedicated to Olga Coelho, was recorded by Laurinda Almeida in the 1950s (Guitar Music of Spain, CTL 7089). His sleevenotes comment:

Neblina (Fog). This study in impressionism is marked by shifting harmonies, chromaticism, subtle dynamics and phrasing, and the use of harmonics in the cadential bars.


The piece was recorded by Eduardo Fernandez (Decca 417 618-1) in 1987, and republished in Ronald Purcell’s Belwin-Mills edition in 1976.

Cavatina: Alexandre Tansman, edited by Segovia, GA, 165, published by Schott, London, 1952. This suite, written in 1951, was awarded first prize at the Accademia Chigiana’s International Composers” Competition. The published form contains Preludio, Sarabande, Scherzino, and Barcarole. It became customary for Segovia to perform the work with a concluding movement, Danza Pomposa, published some years later.

Douze Etudes: Heitor Villa-Lobos, dedicated to Andrés Segovia (with preface) published by Editions Max Eschig, Paris, 1953. Segovia’s preface to this edition is of particular interest to all who play the Twelve Studies of Villa-Lobos, the most influential set of contemporary guitar studies published this century. In the original manuscript for Douze Etudes, Villa-Lobos included a considerable amount of fingering omitted in the published edition, though a number of misprints did find their way in. Segovia himself only recorded and played three of these works in public, Nos. 1, 7 and 8, which seems a pity. However, Segovia’s role as midwife to these Studies in the 1920s in Paris must be seen as one of his greatest achievements, and he surely inspired Villa-Lobos to remarkable heights.

The mystery of why the world had to wait from their composition in 1929 until the publication in 1953 will presumably not be solved. It took a further decade or so before Turibio Santos became the first guitarist to perform and record the entire set.

Diatonic Major and Minor Scales: Segovia, published by Columbia, Washington, 1953. Here, Segovia sets out his approach to the study of scales. The publication predates the great flood of scale books that would be introduced once the grade examinations came into existence from the late 1960s. Segovia’s scale fingerings were very much used by teachers and players in the late 1950s but have fallen out of favour over the years as different scale concepts were put forward. The major scales as fingered by Segovia use rapid position changes ascending, while descending major scales follow a different pattern from the ascending.

Sonatina: Federico Moreno Torroba, edited by Segovia, published by Ricardi Americana, Buenos Aires, 1953. According to Peter Danner (Soundboard, Spring 1983) writing on Torroba (1891-1982), the “famous Sonatina in A dates from 1924” and was later revised. In Danner’s checklist of Torroba’s publications, 1953 is listed as the earliest publication date of this work. (A new edition appeared in 1966, Columbia Music Co, which Danner gives incorrectly as 1964).

This publication was one of the most popular influences on guitar recitals from the 1950s onwards, many recitals appearing at that time being apparently incomplete without a performance of this work. There have been about 30 recordings of this Sonatina, (Julian Bream recorded it twice), and renderings by just about every recording artist of the 1960s onwards. For some time in the 1980s it went out of fashion but has recently surfaced again in concert programmes.

Madroiios: Federico Moreno Torroba, published by Associated Music Publishers, 1954. Strictly speaking this is not one of Segovia’s editions, as there is no fingering on the score. However, the cover proudly announces, “In the Repertoire of Andrés Segovia,” the work is dedicated to him, and at the bottom of the page it observes that the piece was recorded on Decca DL 7647 by Segovia.

A madroiio is a strawberry tree, the bear and the strawberry tree being represented on the Coat of Arms of Madrid. Thus, the composition can be seen as a tribute to the city. The sleevenotes for Segovia’s recording, An Andrés Segovia Programme (Brunswick AXTL 1060), describes the piece as ”based on a popular street-cry.” Once again this proved to be a publication of considerable significance in the development of the repertoire, and The Orphee Database of Guitar Records lists some 30 recordings.

Prelude: J. S. Bach, transcribed Segovia, GA, 173, published by Schott, London, 1954. This transcription from Suite BWV 997 (sometimes titled, incorrectly, Lute Suite No. 11) is perhaps one of the least-known and least-played of Segovia’s Bach editions, perhaps because Segovia did not record it, and hardly, if ever, performed it in recitals. Its function has long been taken over by newer editions, but in its historical context it was a useful if belated performer’s rationalisation of Hans Dagobert Bruger’s edition of 1921.

Sonata in E minor: Domenico Scarlatti, transcribed by Segovia, GA, 177, published by Schott, London, 1954. Francisco Tárrega had neglected to transcribe any Scarlatti for the guitar, an omission which Segovia put right with this perceptive version of a piece which seems almost as if it could indeed have been composed directly for the guitar. The Longo catalogue number was not included in the 1950s, but the sonata in question here is Longo 352/Kirkpatrick 11.

Julian Bream recorded this arrangement in The Art of Julian Bream (RCA RB 16239, 1960), slightly preceded by the young John Williams, whose debut recording, John Williams Guitar Recital, 2nd Album (Delyse ECB 3151, recorded December, 1958, when Williams was 17) also included this piece.

Segovia’s transcription held sway until Carlos Barbosa-Lima’s two volume book of 9 Sonatas (Columbia, 1970) offered a version with corrected notes. In particular the penultimate bar of the first section in Segovia’s edition includes some notes different from Scarlatti’s text, with the omission of D sharps in the descending scale passage.

Segovia’s only other published Scarlatti Sonata, Longo 187/Kirkpatrick 481 had been published by Schotts as GA No. 144 in 1935. Segovia performed other sonatas by Scarlatti on a regular basis in recitals, such as L.83/K.431, L.79/K.391 and L.483/K.322, but regrettably did not publish these transcriptions. Since Segovia’s pioneering efforts with Scarlatti on the guitar, a considerable number of guitarists such as Barbosa­Lima, Yepes, Fisk, Brouwer, Barrueco and Williams, etc, have expanded the range of this composer’s sonatas considered appropriate for the solo instrument.

Waltz, Op. 39, No. 8: Brahms, transcribed Segovia, GA 174, published by Schott, London, 1954. When this Waltz in B flat (transcribed here to E), was first recorded in the 1950s on Brunswick AXTL 1060 and recently issued (1991) on compact disc (The Legendary Andrés Segovia, Vol. 9 MCA 0881 10281 2) it was mistakenly described as Op. 39, No. 2 (an error lovingly preserved in the Orphee Data-Base). This beautiful waltz is of course not to be confused with the more well­known Op. 39, No. 15.

Estudio sin luz: Andrés Segovia, GA 179, published by Schott, London, 1954. Wolfgang Lendle’s liner notes inform us that this Etude Without Light was composed when “a malady of the eye forced Segovia to cease giving concerts for a while.” Dedicated to Jose Rubio, this work is the only one of his own compositions that Segovia recorded (AXTL 1089). It has been recorded by various players, including Eduardo Abreu on Ace of Diamonds (SDD 219, 1969), Oscar Caceres (ERATO STU 70614 A, c. 1970), Eduardo Fernandez (Decca 417 618-1, 1987), and Wolfgang Lendle (TELDEC 243 717 2, 1988, reissued as TELDEC 9031 75864 2, 1922), etc. This is a work that will continue to attract players.

Fantasia for Guitar and Piano, Op. 145: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, GA 170, published by Schott, London, 1954. This appeared in Segovia’s Guitar Archives Series without any fingering. It is inscribed Pour Andrés and Paquita, the latter being Paquita Madriguera, Segovia’s second wife, composer and concert pianist who had performed several of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s works for pianoforte. It was composed in 1950 but there seems little evidence that Segovia ever performed the work publicly.

Concerto in D, Op. 99: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, GA 166, Schott, London, 1954. Though composed in 1939, this work remained unpublished for several years. It is printed without fingering, as are several works by this composer. In a letter to Ponce, August 26, 1939, Segovia describes the Concerto as “very clever and successful” but thinks that “the treatment of the guitar could have been more brilliant.” (The Segovia-Ponce Letters, edited by Alcazar, transcribed by Segal, published by Editions Orphee).

Corazón Otero in Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Su Vida y Su Obra Para Guitarra (published Ediciones Musicales Yolotl, Mexico, 1987) puts the premiere in Los Angeles in 1947. Since that time, it has become one of the most popular and recorded guitar concertos with 25 recordings listed in the Orphee Database of Guitar Records.

Suite, Op. 133: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, GA 169, published by Schott, London, 1954. Inscribed Pour Andrés Segovia and written in 1947, this has three movements: Preludio—quasi un improvisazione, Ballata Scozzese, and Capriccio. Corazón Otero describes the first movement as “in the character of music for lute around 1500,” the second as a Scottish ballad over “an insistent pedal,” which “has the strange effects of the bagpipes,” and the third as a “Capriccio violently syncopated, with a purely American character, which means that it can be also played on its own.” Unfortunately, this is a composition which seems to have dropped from view, and only Jorge Oraison has recorded it (and then only the Capriccio movement) on his all- Castelnuovo-Tedesco disc (ETCETERA ETC 1001, 1982). John Duarte, reviewing this recording in Gramophone, February 1983, sees the Capriccio, along with Rondo Op. 129, as “somewhat inconsequential” and points out that its material is reused in Crotola, the last item of Romancero Gitano, Op. 152.

Caro mio ben: Tommaso Giordani, transcribed for voice and guitar by Andrés Segovia, GA 175, published by Schott, 1954. This is an unusual item in Segovia’s catalogue of publications being for song and guitar. Giordani (c. 1730-1806) was born in Naples but from the 1760s onwards worked extensively as conductor and composer in both London and Dublin. He wrote more than 50 English and Italian operas.