Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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artdecade
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by artdecade » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:34 pm

Nick Cutroneo wrote:
Gary Macleod wrote:
gitgeezer wrote:John Williams will soon be 76, Bream 84, and then there's Segovia. Are these to be the only giants of the classical guitar? Surely someone has come along since Williams who deserves to be in that company. Can we add a fourth? A fifth? Any nominations?
Are you serious?? Really ??????
From a perspective of pop-culture identification, Gary is kind of right. There are plenty of amazing players out there, but none were so present in our pop-culture than Segovia, Bream and Williams. I'd say Vieaux is close (as he won a grammy for his solo album, Play a few years back), but the biggest issue is lack of attention classical music gets in today's culture.

However, there are plenty of amazing players that deserve to be in the company of the "holy guitar trinity".
I wouldn't rate him as highly as Williams, Bream, and Segovia, but Miloš Karadaglić certainly seems to getting a lot of pop exposure. He probably has the most potential to crossover and bring some much needed exposure back to classical guitar. DM is focusing their marketing both on his playing and his charisma.
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DevonBadger
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by DevonBadger » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:57 pm

This is like asking if there are any footballers who can join Pele, Cruyff and Maradona as the greatest of all time. There have been, and will continue to be, many fine footballers who catch the eye. But the reason those three are singled out is because they regularly took your breath away and entered the realm of the sublime... same with Federer at tennis.

For me, the answer is no, not yet. There are many many fantastic guitarists, including all those mentioned, but they are like Zidane and Ronaldo... great great players, just not quite THE greatest (admittedly in some cases we are talking the very finest of margins).

Having said that I actually think Messi deserves to join the other three as an all time great footballer, I just can't think of the equivalent in the guitar world... yet! The trouble is you're lucky to get even one all time great per generation, they just don't come along that often.

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Adrian Allan » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:34 pm

artdecade wrote:
Nick Cutroneo wrote:
Gary Macleod wrote:
Are you serious?? Really ??????
From a perspective of pop-culture identification, Gary is kind of right. There are plenty of amazing players out there, but none were so present in our pop-culture than Segovia, Bream and Williams. I'd say Vieaux is close (as he won a grammy for his solo album, Play a few years back), but the biggest issue is lack of attention classical music gets in today's culture.

However, there are plenty of amazing players that deserve to be in the company of the "holy guitar trinity".
I wouldn't rate him as highly as Williams, Bream, and Segovia, but Miloš Karadaglić certainly seems to getting a lot of pop exposure. He probably has the most potential to crossover and bring some much needed exposure back to classical guitar. DM is focusing their marketing both on his playing and his charisma.
^ pure, unadulterated sacrilege, lol
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astro64
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by astro64 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:05 pm

Already the answers indicate that one would need to define the criteria to make the comparison. It can't be technique, because most modern players now are much better. Musicality is an ill-defined concept and subjective. Ability to fill concert halls, well, the times have changed, people attend less concerts. Ability to survive and do well by only giving concerts and nothing else (as was the case for Segovia, Breams, Williams)? That would include Russell, Vidovic, maybe the Assads, not sure there are many others. Sustained significantly filled concert schedules in international venues? Add Barrueco. Positions at the major conservatories in the world? You can add many players then. Major recording contracts? Again, the times have changed and almost no guitarists have those now but certainly Barrueco and Russell have/had those for many years (Russell had a grammy too).

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David Norton
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by David Norton » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:11 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Galbraith's guitar may be a one off. But if it takes off over the years, with more and more players using that style of instrument and playing, then he'll be looked back on as a revolutionary. He will have changed how the instrument is built, approached and played.I have no idea if that will happen.
He's been playing it for what, 25-30 years now? If it were going to "take off", it would have done so. As it stands, it's simply another interesting fringe design, like the Yepes 10-string, or the Bolin 11-string. An excellent concept and design when used in the right hands, but not something that will generate a new standard pattern of luthiery or consumer spending.
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guitarseller345645
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by guitarseller345645 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:38 pm

Altophile wrote:Narciso Yepes.
+1...and the Romeros too.
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Luuttuaja
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Luuttuaja » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:47 pm

I think Ana Vidovic videos have a rather high following on Youtube, perhaps she's having some of that "popular culture appearance"?

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spanishguitarmusic
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:49 pm

I would say also David Russell.

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David Norton
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by David Norton » Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:52 pm

In the GFA's "Soundboard" magazine, Vol 37 #4 from late 2011, there is a lengthy and very detailed article by Mark Small titled In Pursuit of the New Poets: Observations on whether The Segovia Phenomenon Could Happen Again". The article goes beyond Segovia, and addresses some of the reasons for the career success of The Big Three. A key paragraph begins:

"Notwithstanding the popularity of extraordinary and hard-working recitalists such as Pepe Romero, Parkening, Fisk, Barrueco, Isbin, and others who built a profile in the 1960s and 1970s, the careers of Segovia, Bream, and Williams represent a different order of magnitude." He solicited input on this "phenomenon" from Jason Vieaux, Ana Vidovic, David Russell, Eliot Fisk, and Ben Verdery.

Summing up, "things are different today" than 50-60-80 years ago. Record labels are no longer "kingmakers", high-profile impresarios such as Sol Hurok or Columbia Artists Management are a thing of the past. The novelty of solo guitar playing is gone, we hear solo guitar played on countless TV programs and movies and radio jingles. Social Media is now a dominant force. People balk at the idea of "paying for music" and seek free downloads and YT videos instead. There's too much competition for people's attention spans and wallets.

Taken all together, the dominance of the Segovia-Bream-Williams troika of roughly 1950 to 1975 was a unique event, very unlikely to ever be seen again.
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dory
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by dory » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:58 am

I think those three stand out mainly because there was less competition in their prime time. As you can see from the suggestions above (and their could have been a LOT more) there are excellent guitarists out there but there are so many of them that none appear as prominent as Segovia, Bream and Williams. Do the current guitarists play worse? I would argue defintely not, but any of them, even someone like Manuel Barrueco or David Russell, or Roland Dyens are just one in a sea of lumniaries. Of course there are older players who do not appear in rhe trio of "luminaries" and probably should-- Ida Presti (ok, she died very young) Alirio Diaz (a favorite of mine) and of course Barrios-- one of the greatest figures in the history of the guitar-- ranking with Tárega in my opinion. However, the greats of the mid 20th century can be counted on one or at most two hands, whereas the greats now? If you were counting fingers you would need a crowd of people to provide enough digits.
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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:18 am

In the states there is much discussion about Tom Brady and whether he is the GOAT. Greatest (NFL quarterback) of all time. I think Williams and Bream are great but both were inspired and their careers made possible by Segovia. You can say times have changed and it's not so easy now. But Segovia toured the world by train and steamship. You had to seek out and buy his records not just click. His career spanned 7 decades. You don't think there were changes over this time period? Revolution. Two world wars. The Beatles. He toured till he died. B&W: retired. They don't like to tour.

It is not necessary to denigrate someone else to say another is great. This is not a zero sum game. I like Cam Newton, but talk to me in about 18 years. I think everyone mentioned is truly great. Many may have skills far exceeding Segovia's. But Segovia is the GOAT.
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joachim33
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by joachim33 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:49 am

I think times have changed. Who are the successors to Karajan (personally don't like him) and Bernstein of today? Who followed Glen Gould on the piano? Media are more fragmented these days. I am actually wondering whether these are the right names to quote.

Classical guitar is special, that an autodidac like Segovia could revoltianise the instrument in the way he did. Tells me something about the immaturity of the instrument at the beginning of the 21st century. Didn't happen to the violin, the piano or in vocals.

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joachim33
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by joachim33 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:58 am

Rick Beauregard wrote: But Segovia is the GOAT.

Did he have horns and say "Meh" :wink:

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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by DevonBadger » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:33 am

As much as I agree with the well made points about the societal and cultural differences making it harder for a guitarist today to have the same prominence as AS, JB and JW, I do think the most important aspect is being overlooked.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, 'the playing's the thing'. I can take any piece played by another guitarist and almost always I will find that I prefer one of the versions by AS, JB, JW... sometimes all three. It's their ability to make sublime music which is by far the most important consideration when evaluating all time greatness.

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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by andreas777 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:18 am

Questions like "who is a giant of the classical guitar" or "who is the best guitarist" can only be answered if the word "best" is defined and a metric specified. If you try to answer the question "what is the best car" then you could say a Bugatti Veyron because it has the strongest motor, the most horse power, and the highest price, but it is probably not the "best" car if you want to use it for an extended shopping tour or bring your kids to school. You could say that "a giant" or the "best guitarist" is the player with the highest technical skills, even if such a definition still remains fuzzy. There are many recordings where I first think, wow, this piece is played perfectly, but then I think it sounds like someone added notes to a computer program and the computer calculated the perfect sound. There is often something missing like flavoring in a good meal. I think many outstanding guitarists behave like a driver of a sports car. If you have a sports car and you are on a highway, then you want to drive fast and show the world that you have the fastest car. A guitarist with outstanding technical skills wants to show the world that he can play a difficult piece some beats-per-minute faster than his colleagues and still play it technically perfect. For me the "best" performance of a piece is often not the one that is played fast and accurate but an interpretation with some "flavoring" in it. But this is a subjective perception, and therefore for me the definition of "best" is subjective too, and I have problems naming a guitarist with great technical skills a "giant".
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