Joaquín Rodrigo

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Joaquín Rodrigo
Joaquin Rodrigo en Rosario.JPG
Monument in Rosario, Argentina
Born November 22, 1901
Sagunto, Valencia, Spain
Died July 6, 1999(1999-07-06) (aged 97)
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Spouse(s) Victoria Kamhi

Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre, 1st Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez (Spanish: [xoaˈkin roˈðɾiɣo]; November 22, 1901 – July 6, 1999), commonly known as Joaquín Rodrigo, was a Spanish composer and a virtuoso pianist.

Rodrigo's music is among the most popular music of the 20th century. In particular, his Concierto de Aranjuez is considered one of the pinnacles of Spanish music and of the guitar concerto repertoire.


Rodrigo was born in Sagunto, Valencia, and almost completely lost his sight at the age of three after contracting diphtheria. He began to study solfège, piano and violin at the age of eight; harmony and composition from the age of 16. Although distinguished by having raised the Spanish guitar to dignity as a universal concert instrument and best known for his guitar music, he never mastered the instrument himself. He wrote his compositions in Braille, which was transcribed for publication.

Rodrigo studied music under Francisco Antich in Valencia and under Paul Dukas at the École Normale de Musique in Paris. After briefly returning to Spain, he went to Paris again to study musicology, first under Maurice Emmanuel and then under André Pirro. His first published compositions[1] date from 1940. In 1943 he received Spain's National Prize for Orchestra for Cinco piezas infantiles ("Five Children's Pieces"), based on his earlier composition of the same piece for two pianos, premiered by Ricardo Viñes. From 1947 Rodrigo was a professor of music history, holding the Manuel de Falla Chair of Music in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, at Complutense University of Madrid. Notable students include Yüksel Koptagel, Turkish composer and pianist.

His most famous work, Concierto de Aranjuez, was composed in 1939 in Paris for the guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza. In later life he and his wife declared that it was written as a response to the miscarriage of their first child.[2] It is a concerto for guitar and orchestra. The central adagio movement is one of the most recognizable in 20th-century classical music, featuring the interplay of guitar with cor anglais. This movement was later adapted by the jazz arranger Gil Evans for Miles Davis' 1960 album "Sketches of Spain". The Concerto was adapted by the composer himself for Harp and Orchestra at the request of Nicanor Zabaleta and dedicated to Zabaleta.

The success of this concerto led to commissions from a number of prominent soloists, including Nicanor Zabaleta, for whom Rodrigo dedicated his Concierto serenata for Harp and Orchestra, Julian Lloyd Webber, for whom Rodrigo composed his Concierto como un divertimento for cello and orchestra, and James Galway, for whom Rodrigo composed his Concierto pastoral for flute and orchestra. In 1954 Rodrigo composed Fantasía para un gentilhombre at the request of Andrés Segovia. His Concierto Andaluz, for four guitars and orchestra, was commissioned by Celedonio Romero for himself and his three sons.

Monument in Aranjuez, Spain

None of Rodrigo's works, however, achieved the popular and critical success of the Concierto de Aranjuez and the Fantasia para un gentilhombre. These two works are very often paired in recordings.

He was awarded Spain's highest award for composition, the Premio Nacional de Música, in 1983. On December 30, 1991, Rodrigo was raised into the Spanish nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the hereditary title of Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez[3][4] (English: Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez). He received the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award—Spain's highest civilian honor—in 1996. He was named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1998.

He married Victoria Kamhi, a Turkish-born pianist whom he had met in Paris, on January 19, 1933, in Valencia. Their daughter, Cecilia, was born on January 27, 1941. Rodrigo died in 1999 in Madrid at the age of 97, and his daughter succeeded him as Marquésa de los Jardines de Aranjuez. Joaquín Rodrigo and his wife Victoria are buried at the cemetery at Aranjuez.



  • Orchestra
    • Cinco Piezas Infantiles (1928)
    • Tres viejos aires de danza (1929; first performance, January 20, 1930, by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Valencia conducted by José Manuel Izquierdo)
    • Dos miniaturas andaluzas (1929; first performance, November 22, 1999, at the Palau de la Música de Valencia, Spain, by the Orquesta de Cámara Joaquín Rodrigo)
    • Zarabande lejana y Villancico (1930; first performance, March 9, 1931, at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, by the Orquesta Femenina de París, conducted by Jane Evrard)
    • Per la flor del Lliri Blau, symphonic poem (1934; First Prize, Círculo de Bellas Artes)
    • Soleriana (first performance by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Hans von Benda, on August 22, 1953 in Berlin)
    • Pavana Real (1955)
    • Música para un jardín (1957) [Orchestration of his two piano Berceuses]
    • A la busca del más allá (1976; commissioned by the Houston Symphony for the United States Bicentennial, Rodrigo was inspired by the thought of space exploration)
    • Palillos y panderetas (1982)
  • Rondalla
    • Estudiantina (1962)
  • Symphonic Wind Ensemble
    • Homenaje a la Tempranica (1939; first performance, 1939, in Paris by the Orquesta Femenina de París, conducted by Jane Evrard)
    • Homenaje a Sagunto (1955)
    • Adagio Para Orquesta de Instrumentos de Viento (1966; first performance in June 1966, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Austin Boudreau)
    • Pasodoble para Paco Alcalde (1975)


  • Cello
    • Dos piezas caballerescas for four-piece cello orchestra (1945; first performance, May 27, 1945, in Madrid by cello ensemble students of Juan Ruiz Casaux) - later transcribed for four guitars by Peter Jermer
    • Concierto en modo galante (1949; first performance, November 4, 1949, in Madrid by Gaspar Cassadó, with the Orquesta Nacional de España, conducted by Ataulfo Argenta)
    • Concierto como un divertimento (1981)
  • Harp
    • Concierto serenata (1954)
    • Sones en la Giralda (1963; written as a wedding present for the harpist Marisa Robles) - later transcribed for guitar and orchestra by Pepe Romero
  • Piano
  • Violin
    • Dos esbozos for violin and piano (1923; Rodrigo's "Opus 1")
    • Cançoneta for violin and string orchestra (1923; first performance in 1923 in Valencia, Spain, by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Valencia, conducted by José Manuel Izquierdo)
    • Concierto de estío (1944; first performance, April 16, 1944, by Enrique Iniesta, at the Teatro San Carlos in Lisbon, Portugal, with the Orquesta Nacional de España, conducted by Bartolomé Pérez Casas)
    • Set Cançons Valencianes for violin and piano (1982)


  • Bandoneón
    • Motu perpetuo (1960)
  • Cello
    • Como una fantasía (1979; first performance, March 17, 1981, by Carlos Prieto, in Mexico City)
  • Guitar
    • Zarabanda lejana (1926; first performance by Joaquín Nin-Culmell, in Paris)
    • Toccata para guitarra (1933; first performance, June 1, 2006, by Marcin Dylla, in Madrid)
    • En Los Trigales (1938; first performance by Regino Sainz de la Maza; later published as part of Por los campos de España)
    • Tiento Antiguo (1942; first performance, 1942, by Regino Sainz de la Maza)
    • Three Spanish Pieces - Tres Piezas Españolas (Fandango, Passacaglia, Zapateado) (1954; dedicated to Andrés Segovia)
    • Bajando de la meseta (1954; first performance by Nicolás Alfonso in Brussels; later published as part of Por los campos de España)
    • Entre olivares (1956; dedicated to Manuel López Ramos; later published as part of Por los campos de España)
    • En tierras de Jerez (1957; dedicated to Luise Walker)
    • Tonadilla (1959; first performance by the guitar duo of Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya)
    • Junto al Generalife (1959; first performance by Siegfrid Behrend)
    • Sonata Giocosa (1960; dedicated to Renata Tarragó)
    • Invocación y danza (1961; first performance, May 12, 1962, by Alirio Díaz, at the Château de la Brède near Bordeaux, France—First prize, Coupe International de Guitare, awarded by Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française [ORTF])
    • Sonata a la Española (1963; dedicated to Ernesto Bitetti)
    • Tres pequeñas piezas (Ya se van los pastores, Por caminos de Santiago, Pequeña Sevillana) (1963)
    • Elogio de la guitarra (1971; written for the guitarist Angelo Gilardino, who gave the first performance)
    • Pajaros de primavera (1972; commissioned by Dr. Isao Takahashi, a promotor of classical guitar in Japan, for his wife Take Takahashi; first performed in 1972 at the hospital bedside of Take Takahashi in Japan, "interpreted by a guitarist friend," as she was dying of cancer[5]Christopher Parkening gave the first public performance, also in Japan)
    • Dos preludios (1976; first performance, 1989, by Celedonio Romero, in Los Angeles, CA, and first recording by Wolfgang Lendle)
    • Tríptico (1978; first performance, 1978, by Alexandre Lagoya, at the Château de Rougerie in France)
    • Un tiempo fue Itálica famosa (1981; first performance, 1989, by Randy Pile in San Diego, CA)
    • Ecos de Sefarad (1987; first performance, 1989, by Sherri Rottersman, at the Círculo Medina in Madrid)
    • ¡Qué buen caminito! (1987; first performance, 1987, by Mariá Esther Guzmán, at the Conservatorio de Música de Sevilla)
  • Piano
    • Suite pour piano (1923)
    • Berceuse d'automne (1923)
    • Cinco Piezas Infantiles (Son chicos que pasan, Después de un cuento, Mazurka, Plegaria, Gritería) (1924)
    • Preludio al Gallo mañanero (1926)
    • Zarabande lejana (1926)
    • Pastorale (1926)
    • Bagatela (1926)
    • Berceuse de printemps (1928)
    • Air de Ballet sur le nom d'une Jeune Fille (1930)
    • Serenata Española (1931)
    • Sonada de adiós ('Homenaje a Paul Dukas') (1935)
    • Cuatro Piezas (Caleseras, Fandango del ventorrillo, Prayer of the Princess of Castile, Danza Valenciana) (1936-1938)
    • Tres Danzas de España (Rústica, Danza de los tres doncellas, Serrana) (1941)
    • Gran Marcha de los Subsecretarios (1941)
    • A l'ombre de Torre Bermeja (1945)
    • Cuatro Estampas Andaluzas (1946-1952)
    • El Album de Cecilia (María de los Reyes, Jota de las Palomas, Canción del Hada rubia, Canción del Hada morena, El negrito Pepo, Borriquillos a Belén) (1948)
    • Cinco Sonatas de Castilla, con Toccata a modo de Pregón (1950-1951)
    • Danza de la Amapola (1972)
    • Atardecer (1975)
    • Sonatina para dos Muñecas (1977)
    • Tres Evocaciones (Tarde en el parque, Noche en el Guadalquivir, Triana) (1980-1981)
    • Preludio de Añoranza (1987)
  • Violin
    • Capriccio (1944; first performance, January 8, 1946, by Enrique Iniesta, in Madrid)


  • Ave Maria for unaccompanied choir (1923)
  • Ausencias de Dulcinea (1948); First prize, Cervantes Competition
  • Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios (1948)
  • De las doce canciones españolas (Textos populares adaptados por Victoria Kamhi) (1951)
  • Villancicos y canciones de navidad (1952); Ateneo de Madrid Prize
  • Cuatro canciones sephardies (1965)
  • El Hijo Fingido, Zarzuela
  • Porque toco el pandero
  • Cántico de San Francisco de Asís (1982)
  • Tres canciones[6]

Guitar and voice

  • Coplas del Pastor Enamorado (1935)
  • Tres Canciones Españolas (1951)
  • Tres Villancicos (1952)
  • Romance de Durante (1955)
  • Folías Canarias (1958)
  • Aranjuez, ma pensée (1988)


  1. A suite for piano, and "Dos esbozos", suite for piano and violín and Siciliana, for cello
  2. The Sound of Magnolias, BBC Radio 4, October 20, 2009. Irma Kurtz investigates Spanish composer Rodrigo's Concerto de Aranjuez. (Downloadable audio documentary)
  3. "Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez"; since 1999, his daughter Cecilia Rodrigo Camhi, has been 2nd Marquesa de los Jardines de Aranjuez.
  5. Victoria Kamhi de Rodrigo, Hand in Hand With Joaquin Rodrigo: My Life at the Maestro's Side, trans. Ellen Wilkerson (Pittsburgh: Latin American Literary Review Press, 1992), 231.
  6. Graham Wade, Joaquín Rodrigo: A Life in Music: Travelling to Aranjuez, 2006, p. 156: " ... He has also completed for voice, Tres canciones, with classical texts".
  • Kamhi de Rodrigo, Victoria; translated by Ellen Wilkerson (1992). Hand in Hand With Joaquín Rodrigo: My Life at the Maestro's Side. Pittsburgh: Latin American Literary Review Press. ISBN 0-935480-51-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links




DVD containing: Shadows and Light documentary, Concierto de Aranjuez
Spanish nobility
New title Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez
30 December 1991 – 6 July 1999
Succeeded by
Cecilia Rodrigo Kamhi