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Classical 101

Sadness, Loss and Great Beauty in Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez

Pablo Picasso's 'Guernica' (1937) visually describes the carnage and morose nature of war, but what was the inspiration for Joaquin Rodrigo's most famous guitar concerto?

The most-loved of all guitar concertos has at its heart, music of great beauty and haunting emotions; sadness, regret and resignation are at the core of the second movement of the Concierto de Aranjuez of Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo.  Surrounded by two shorter, happier, lighter and lively movements, the emotional impact of the Adagio is all the greater in this magnificent work for guitar and orchestra from 1939.

It had been conjectured that Rodrigo may have had the bombing of Guernica in mind, an event during the Spanish Civil War that has been immortalized in the famous mural of the same name by Pablo Picasso.  It was only later that Rodrigo's wife Victoria set the record straight by saying that the concerto was both an expression of happiness and joy they felt visiting the gardens of the Palace of Aranjuez on their honeymoon and the later miscarriage of her first pregnancy.

Powerful human emotions are at the heart of much great music, and that's certainly the case in this wonderful concerto for guitar and orchestra.  You can hear the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo on the next Fretworks on Classical 101 Wednesday at 7:00 PM.  I'm your host every Saturday and Wednesday evening on Fretworks.