Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

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bodhisattva
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Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by bodhisattva » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:42 pm

It has been discovered that the Segovia's "transcription" of "Chaconne" was not a transcribed version based on Bach's original score for solo violin. Instead, Segovia took the piano arrangement of Busoni, simplified it, and published it, without acknowledging the source of his work. In another case, Segovia based his 1945 edition of "20 Studies" by Fernando Sor on a 19th-century edition by Napoleon Coste, without acknowledging the source of his work.

Did Segovia intentionally ignore other authors, so that he could take full credit for such works? Or, did Segovia unintentionally do it? Or, did he innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

What do you think?

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:51 pm

I think its impossible to fairly determine, at this distance. Its probably a mixture of things; assuming people don't care, not being in a tradition of attribution as we tend to now, happy to take the credit.

And FWIW many people were happy to take Segovia's work and re-package it without attribution, e.g. his Sor editions, Asturias etc etc.
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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by RobMacKillop » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:52 pm

Oh, I would say (without any proof) that Segovia deliberately did not not mention his sources, and was only too happy to build up the Segovia as unique genius myth. I'm not Segovia basher, by the way, and still rate his last (?) LP, Reveries, as one of my all-time favourites. But we have to acknowledge his gigantic all-encompassing ego.

That said, he is not alone. The practice of using piano reductions or arrangements has a long history in guitar arrangements, or using lute transcriptions in full-staff notation as sources for guitar arrangements. You've opened up a can of worms with your question.

But does it matter?

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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by Christopher Freitag » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:56 pm

bodhisattva wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:42 pm
It has been discovered that the Segovia's "transcription" of "Chaconne" was not a transcribed version based on Bach's original score for solo violin.
Discovered by whom?
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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by bodhisattva » Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:00 pm

Christopher Freitag wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:56 pm
bodhisattva wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:42 pm
It has been discovered that the Segovia's "transcription" of "Chaconne" was not a transcribed version based on Bach's original score for solo violin.
Discovered by whom?
Discovered by Christopher Berg:
https://blog.christopherberg.com/2015/1 ... -chaconne/

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David Norton
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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by David Norton » Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:39 pm

The whole concept of "intellectual property" and copyright and whatnot was not NEARLY as closely followed in the years of Segovia's ascent. His contemporaries on other instruments were equally lackadaisical about proper attribution of authorship or editorship. It simply wasn't important in those days.

Nowadays, in a far more litigious and far more critical (and often finger-pointing / blame-driven) social culture, it's a very different matter. What was acceptable practice in 1919 or 1939 would never pass scrutiny today. But we can't fairly retroactively apply 2019 social and legal culture to pass condemnation on how such things were done 80 to 100 (or more!) years ago.
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Peter Frary
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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by Peter Frary » Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:07 am

Segovia was a self taught artist, guitar crusader, innovator, entertainer and a bit of a statesman. I don't think he ever claimed to be a music scholar, musicologist or copyright lawyer. I don't think his audiences gave a rat's tail about the where, why and how of his repertoire. He even conspired with Ponce to produce counterfeit Baroque suites...
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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by Lovemyguitar » Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:13 am

bodhisattva wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:42 pm
It has been discovered that the Segovia's "transcription" of "Chaconne" was not a transcribed version based on Bach's original score for solo violin. Instead, Segovia took the piano arrangement of Busoni, simplified it, and published it...
How does anybody know that Segovia did not use (or look at, or refer to...) Bach's original violin score? Were they there with him as he worked on it? Just because there are similarities with Busoni's piano score does not prove anything, and it certainly doesn't rule out Segovia having looked at or even heard performances of different versions of the piece, all of which may have, consciously or perhaps even unconsciously, influenced Segovia's transcription. Nobody can claim to know these things.
bodhisattva wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:42 pm
...Did Segovia intentionally ignore other authors, so that he could take full credit for such works? Or, did Segovia unintentionally do it? Or, did he innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?...
How can we possibly attribute "intentions" to Segovia? We cannot presume to know what he was thinking and what his intentions were.

All anybody is justified in saying, after having read that "blog", is that somebody has found similarities between Segovia's transcription and Busoni's arrangement, rather than jumping to all sorts of conclusions beyond that and making loaded allegations about Segovia's "intentions".

I am not defending Segovia because he is Segovia -- I would defend any person incapable of answering for themselves when someone decides to "expose" some aspect of their work and call their integrity into question, with little more than hunches and guesswork on which to base their allegations.

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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by Chuah Hui Hsien » Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:49 am

Is it so important to know all the facts and details about somebody's work and ignore his contributions toward classical guitar?

In my early learning, my teacher encouraged me to listen to Segovia's recordings and practiced his 20 Sor's Estudios. I admit that my interest for classical guitar grew because of him. He breathed new life into classical guitar scenes, he initiated the use of dupont nylon strings, Jose Ramirez lll made guitars with Cedar tops, Torroba and Ponce attributed many wonderful guitar compositions for him etc.Without him, I don't think classical guitar will ever come to a popular standing as it is today.
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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by guitarrista » Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:35 am

bodhisattva wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:42 pm
It has been discovered that the Segovia's "transcription" of "Chaconne" was not a transcribed version based on Bach's original score for solo violin. Instead, Segovia took the piano arrangement of Busoni, simplified it, and published it, without acknowledging the source of his work.
But that's NOT what Berg actually claims in his blog post which is your source (emphasis mine in the quote below):
https://blog.christopherberg.com/2015/12/28/bach-busoni-segovia-and-the-chaconne/ wrote:
I maintain, however, that there is more Busoni in the guitar arrangement than there is Segovia. Whether Segovia was strongly influenced by Busoni, whether he worked directly from Busoni’s score, or whether he used both the violin score and Busoni’s arrangement matters little. (The latter is the most likely as Segovia did not include the five extra bars that Busoni added to the piece.)
So, your statement above here already reflects a misinterpretation of what Berg actually said - which was that Segovia most likely worked from both the violin score and the Busoni piano arrangement. As a consequence some of the respondents took you at your word and have likely presented a stronger reaction to THAT than they would have to the actual claim by Berg.

That said, your abstracted question remains. I think Berg says that Segovia presented anything he performed which was originally for another instrument, as a transcription, even if some were wholly or partly arrangements. So if this was not a distinction deemed important enough for him to denote, maybe he also thought being partially influenced or helped by another's arrangement, combined with his own work on it, is not important enough to label differently either. In any case I doubt there was malice involved.
Last edited by guitarrista on Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:10 am

bodhisattva wrote:
Christopher Freitag wrote:Discovered by whom?
Discovered by Christopher Berg:
Hardly a discovery ... we've known this for decades.

There could have been more "borrowings" too - by the time Segovia thought of having a go at the Bach he had run into Villa-Lobos who claimed to have already made the first guitar version - who knows what may have passed between them?

Wouldn't it be great to find the young Heitor's arrangement amongst the remaining papers in the V.L. Museum or the Segovia archives ... ?

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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:31 am

It would!

When a student, I remember reading (very slowly) through the Busoni version, and thinking that it was very close to Segovia's. That was thirty years ago.

By the way, the practice is not confined to the past. My own published arrangements for guitar in DADGAD tuning - arranged directly from the lute tabs - but including variations of my own, have been presented as arrangements for classical guitar - claimed to be arranged from the tablature - yet curiously including eight bars that I had invented. I won't mention by whom, as he is well known to this forum. Let's just say that nothing changes.

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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:01 am

Lovemyguitar wrote:All anybody is justified in saying, after having read that "blog", is that somebody has found similarities between Segovia's transcription and Busoni's arrangement, rather than jumping to all sorts of conclusions beyond that and making loaded allegations about Segovia's "intentions".
There is clear evidence that Segovia borrowed extensively from Busoni's arrangement - hunches and guesswork (as you put it) are not required. At the time however Busoni's ciaccona was famous and recognisable - it was simply not necessary to state the obvious.

Guitarists (generally the bottom of the class as far as breadth of musical knowledge is concerned) are several steps removed to begin with; exposure to the work is usually through the guitar, as a stand-alone piece orphaned from its partia (sic) setting. If a guitarist does follow up with some research they are generally led (and rightly so) to the violin originals rather than the various piano arrangements and accompaniments, so perhaps a certain surprise on hearing of Busoni is inevitable.

If anyone is seriously interested in Segovia's inspiration and transcription/arrangement methods a look at the work of Llobet, Tárrega, Fortea et al throws light on some remarkable similarities.
RobMacKillop wrote:My own published arrangements for guitar in DADGAD tuning - arranged directly from the lute tabs - but including variations of my own, have been presented as arrangements for classical guitar - claimed to be arranged from the tablature - yet curiously including eight bars that I had invented.
You show remarkable restraint and kindness Rob - I know of at least one such piece and a weasel worded excuse from the culprit who never actually fessed up - you are far too polite and let him off lightly.

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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:53 am

I know. His name has been mentioned in connection with it on this forum before. I don't want to rub it in or be personal. He's relatively young, and we all make mistakes.

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Re: Did Segovia innocently forget to acknowledge the sources?

Post by ddray » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:30 am

I think it would only matter if Busoni had made a guitar transcription and then Segovia had copied that. I don't see much of a big deal in saying it's Segovia's transcription of Bach-Busoni rather than Segovia's transcription using the BGA. Whichever. There is a long tradition of unattributed (or tacit) indebtedness in classical music, especially before the "modern" era (and Segovia after all was a child of the 19th century). I don't think Busoni would've taken offense. Busoni was indebted to Liszt, after all.

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