Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

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

Post by Dekselsedek » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:55 am

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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Peter Lovett » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:54 am

David_Norton wrote: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.
I think this nails it. The growth of classical guitar as a concert instrument took root in the 1950s' and you have to look to history to understand why. Segovia sowed the seeds prior to WW2 but it didn't really happen until after then. People were looking for something different, they had just gone through the worst period in modern history and anything new was refreshing and didn't remind them of what existed prior to 1939. The UK was still going through massive depredations with rationing and depressed living standards so when Bream starts gaining attention here was a chance to fly the flag again, a local boy makes good. Williams really built on that. Despite being born in Australia he made his name in the UK and was in some ways adopted by that country. He credits Bream as giving him his start on the circuit as by the early 60s' Bream was being offered more work than he could cope with. He offloaded it to Williams. The public at the time accepted the guitar as a classical instrument.

So by the end of the 60s' you had these 3 dominating the public perception of the instrument, with I hasten to add, some really excellent players also spreading the word but that was also the decade when rock n' roll became a huge industry and public interest began to change. Any new classical guitarist was having to fight to make it into the public perception and aside from the aficionados, the was a decreasing pool thus making it very hard to achieve the heights of the original three. Unfortunately, I believe the trend since the 1970s' has been for the guitar to become a niche instrument in the classical world; appealing to the cognoscenti but a side show for anyone else.

I really don't think anyone else will ever attain the public heights that Segovia, Bream and Williams achieved which is tragic because now, in so many ways, the technical level is way up, luthier skills are second to none and more is know about musical interpretation than ever before, but the public has moved away from accepting the instrument and there is little that can be done about that, no matter how good the player may be.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by zupfgeiger » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:19 pm

Are you serious with Galbraith? I was in his concert at the 2016 Brussels Guitar Festival and it was awful. This Brahms guitar just not delivers the beauty of sound we can expect from the classical guitar. I found nobody who had any positive comment on his performance, not even Hugues Navez who organised the Festival and is a bit biased for his artists. If you want somebody to to turn away even more people from the classical guitar instead of thrilling them please take Galbraith and his Brahms guitar.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:15 pm

David_Norton wrote:
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.
I was at the Brahms Guitar launch, I think it was 1996. In 1991 he was playing a conventional (Rubio) 6 string in a similar position, without the extra features.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:16 pm

zupfgeiger wrote:Are you serious with Galbraith? I was in his concert at the 2016 Brussels Guitar Festival and it was awful. ..
A great shame it was a bad show. I've heard the diametrical opposite set of reactions quite a few times.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:25 pm

Rick Beauregard wrote:... But Segovia toured the world by train and steamship. .... He toured till he died. B&W: retired. They don't like to tour.
.....
Bream retired at least in part due to ill-health, and can no longer play at all with arthritis. He loved to tour, and did so very regularly; Williams wasn't that keen on touring on his own, and there's the story related by JB of how they were on a duo tour and waiting in a wet rail station with the rain pouring off the roof and JW took this as an excuse to cancel his next solo tour. Long periods of solitude, changes of time zone, fawning hangers-on, dodgy catering, unpredictable accommodation ... probably aren't everybody's favourite things.

While its very true Segovia performed till he fell off his perch, he did so with greatly reduced capacity. I think we should respect anyone who prefers to retire nearer the top of their game.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:33 pm

To answer the OP, yes in fact, while I'd love there to be many more names on the list, it is a Trinity. Apart from the obvious point that you couldn't have too many giants without suddenly finding that there were no longer any giants because nobody stood out that much ... the historical record shows fairly clearly that despite the important contributions of many during the heyday of S,B&W, they were way out in front in terms simply of how much they achieved, in particular, how many people they reached and touched. As far as the great majority of those people would be concerned, there simply were no other classical guitarists. The likes of us obsessive types know better, but that doesn't change the historical record.

And the world has gone round a few times and a wonderful guitar culture of a great many fantastic players means it doesn't matter who is on which list that the likes of us draw up. At least, I don't think it matters to those fantastic players who is on which list.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by artdecade » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:05 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
artdecade wrote:
Nick Cutroneo wrote:
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
True! :lol: Just to clarify, I am not putting him on the same level as the three giants. I just think he has the most potential to become a household name. Already, Miloš is performing with popular vocalists and recording Beatles songs. It wouldn't surprise me if some pop starlet decides to record a song needing a classical guitar and Miloš is the first one called - because of his playing and his movie star looks. When it comes to pop culture, it is not always about being the best, but it is certainly about exposure and he has oodles of it.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by zupfgeiger » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:17 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
zupfgeiger wrote:Are you serious with Galbraith? I was in his concert at the 2016 Brussels Guitar Festival and it was awful. ..
A great shame it was a bad show. I've heard the diametrical opposite set of reactions quite a few times.
Well if only the show had been bad, no problem. But actually the performance was bad -confirmed by several world class giutarists and a bunch of advanced students.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:18 pm

zupfgeiger wrote: Well if only the show had been bad, no problem. But actually the performance was bad -confirmed by several world class giutarists and a bunch of advanced students.
By show I meant 'performance'. Sorry to be oblique.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by robert e » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:35 pm

As said already, in so many words, a significant reason these three are giants is because they essentially created and defined the practice and culture of 20th century classical guitar, and did so when the modern music industry was taking shape. No one can do that over again. (Williams did walk in the footsteps of Segovia and Bream, but he not only continued their work, he expanded on it with his crossover work and embrace of the avant-garde, filling out the field as we know it today.) No one is going to match them as long as they define the yardstick. By that measure, the next giant would have to change our perception of the instrument--redefine the culture--as these guys did.

That said, I would expand the trio. If we're speaking in terms of popular impact and perception, I think Paco de Lucia belongs among these great pioneers; while in terms of purely musical impact, Barrios is now recognized as being at least as important, thought that's more of an apples and oranges comparison.

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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Michael Lazar » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:54 pm

Actually, in the perception of the general population versus the more "hard core" guitar aficionados such as those frequenting this forum, Liona Boyd may have come as close to being Segovia's successor as any one at least for a time. When I try to describe the classical guitar to a baby boomer or even the following generation a few lights come on when I mention Segovia but far more recognize the name Liona Boyd, especially in Canada and the USA. Over the past 20 years, the society I am a director of has brought in over 80 of the worlds best guitarists including Russell, Barrueco, Galbraith, Dyens, Steidl, Vidovic, Assad brothers, LAGQ, Verdery and many many more including most of those mentioned here in other posts. At most concerts we'll get between 200 to 300 people. The Assads and LAGQ got us over 400. When Liona Boyd showed up (we never did bring her in) she'd sell out our city's major 1,700 seat concert hall with ease at 2 or 3 times the ticket price. Not to denigrate Liona but I think wide spread recognition is more about professional promotion and publicity than it is about talent. In addition, there are so many incredibly accomplished musicians coming out of the young guitar world that it's becoming increasingly difficult to identify any one as being head and shoulders above all others.

50 ayers ago I got to see Segovia live. It took a few years before I saw another good guitarist, namely Alirio Diaz. Liona Boyd was just starting out and gave free noon hour concerts at Universities. I attended one of those in the early 70's. It took several years before I got to see some more professional guitarists, namely, Los Indios Tabajaras followed by Leo Brower and Manuel Barrueco. In today's world as we start putting together our 2017-2018 season we've booked the GFA winner as we do every year (Xavier Jara), the Beijing Guitar Duet and we are negotiating with Jorge Caballero and Favio Xanon. The choice these days seems almost endless.

Clearly Segovia deserves the credit for beginning the work to elevate the guitar to where it is today. But that has been done, and as I don't see how anyone else can accomplish anything equally fundamental he may well remain known as the only real "Giant" of the guitar. The fact that so many have gone on to surpass his abilities as guitarist only serves to confirm his success in achieving his mission.

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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by zupfgeiger » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:36 pm

I think Segovia's position as the God of the guitar universe is unrivalled until today. Even if you are not a big fan of him you have to admit that he created the classical guitar world that we know today. Think alone of those who attended a Segovia concert and were so thrilled by the sound of the instrument and Segovia's tone that they became addicts from that day on. Ida Presti's father came home from a Segovia concert and forced his daughter to pick up the guitar and learn it seriously. Ignacio Fleta, a violin and cello maker then, went to a Segovia performance, and that concert turned his perfessional life. Many others, prominent guitar figures themselves, were mesmerized by the Maestro and decided to start a career with the guitar. Like him or not: There are no three giants of the CG, there is only one, all the others followed him and stand slightly below him on the winner's podium.

Today is a totally different situation. What is a giant in the age of Youtube, Spotify and the banalisation of music? There are more excellent players then ever before, at least a handful are absolutely brilliant. But giants? The times of giants are long gone.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:05 pm

"Are you serious with Galbraith? "

Zupfgeiger, do you not like his recordings either? Again, the video link on the "new Galbraith cd" thread nearby shows him playing Mozart, with no edits, pretty brilliantly it seems to me. Maybe he just had a bad day when you saw him. I don't think that stains him forever. Why, that would be like taking a few seconds of some professional guitarist's video performan, slowing it down, and then faulting them when you found a mistake. Technique fails all of us at some moments. Most moments with me, apparently.

I really don't care about giants. I prefer having a lot of really great guitarists playing, as now. I like the variety. The big 3, or one, are all great; there are players today that have qualities that are equally fine.
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Only Three Giants of the Classical Guitar?

Post by Adrian Allan » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:09 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:"Are you serious with Galbraith? "

Zupfgeiger, do you not like his recordings either? Again, the video link on the "new Galbraith cd" thread nearby shows him playing Mozart, with no edits, pretty brilliantly it seems to me. Maybe he just had a bad day when you saw him. I don't think that stains him forever. Why, that would be like taking a few seconds of some professional guitarist's video performan, slowing it down, and then faulting them when you found a mistake. Technique fails all of us at some moments. Most moments with me, apparently.
I must admit, I also found it difficult to believe that he was terrible in concert. I have watched him play since 1980, when he first appeared on UK TV at the age of around 18, and he was brilliant then, with the Rodrigo concerto.

Were there lots of mistakes in the concert that you saw, or did he not communicate well with the audience?
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