Segovia's Early Teachers

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Larry McDonald
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Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Larry McDonald » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:23 pm

Hi everyone,

Here is an article that I saved from a "Writer of Importance" about all things guitar. This writer posted this in an online forum some years ago, but I have chosen to remove his/her name since I don't have his/her permission to re-post it here. Nevertheless, it was posted in a public forum so I'll go ahead and re-post it in delcamp. Perhaps we can finally put to rest the notion that Segovia was self-taught, regardless of what he claimed.

My apologies to C.S. for reporting rumors.
Lare

Segovia was a genius, and he learnt as a genius. Though it is not yet
completely documented, it seems clear that, since his tender childhood, he
learnt playing as a flamenco guitarist. In fact, the first guitar he owned
had formerly been played by Paco de Lucena, the greatest flamenco guitarist
of the epoque, who died when Segovia was five years old. Since then, Segovia
was given some instruction by Agustinillo, an amateur flamenco player who
was a fan of Paco de Lucena.

There is a story going around in Andalucia -
which has never been supported by documental evidence, but which is
insistent nevertheless - telling that Andrés was the illegittimate son of
Paco de Lucena. According to Segovia autobiography, he had the first chance
to listen to classical guitar and its music one day in Granada, on the
Albaicin, when he listened to a Gabriel Ruiz de Almodovar performing (though
unproficiently) one of the Preludios by Tarrega: Segovia's motion, in this
occasion, was a very strong one. According to Domingo Prat, Segovia had the
revelation of the classical guitar when listening (in Granada) to a recital
of the Tarrega's student, Paco Sanz (who was also a ventriloquist). Prat
writes also that this happened at an epoque when the young Segovia was a fan
of Paco de Lucena (it seems that the story of Segovia being a son of Lucena
was already going around when Prat wrote his Diccionario). It is a fact,
however, that Segovia, even much later, did not hide his admiration for Paco
de Lucena, whose personal shining was - according to Segovia - powerfully
attractive to all women.

Since then, we have no further record of Segovia's
taking formal lessons from someone, but we know for sure that, when he met
Miguel Llobet, he carefully watched his playing and he learnt from him the
notes of his (Llobet's) transcriptions from Granados. Yet to be brought to
paper, those transcriptions were memorized by the young Segovia directly
from Llobet's playing. Likely, he did not watch only the notes, during those
transmissions...

A guitarist, a teacher and a publisher who leaves in Madrid, and who leads
Ediciones Musicales Soneto, Melchor Rodriguez, told me, in private
conversations, that Segovia never revealed an important point of his youth:
when he visited Valencia (around 1915) and he had unfortunate contacts with
Tarrega's students, he was warmly acknowledged by an irregular member of
Tarrega's milieu, Salvador Garcia. According to Rodriguez, and also to other
Spanish guitarists who knew him, Garcia was actually the best student
Tarrega ever taught, an exceptional performer and also a cultivated musician
(he studied also composition with Oscar Espla). He was the son of the owner
of a hotel on the coast, called "Pancha Verda" (Green Belly).

This became the nickname of Garcia, who was taught by Tarrega when the maestro was a
guest in the hotel (it happened pretty often). Garcia did not develop a
career as a concert player - though he gave occasionally some recitals -
because he was a wealthy man and because he had some mental problem (all
those who told me about him, described him as a man who got crazy for women,
regardless of their age and beauty). However, Garcia was very friendly to
the young Segovia and he had him as a guest in his "finca", and he taught
him all the secrets of Tarrega's technique. Melchor Rodriguez was one of
Garcia's students. He told me that the best Garcia's student was José Luis
Gonzalez. My attempts to bring light of this attractive character - Salvador
Garcia - were unsuccessful: after his death, his documents were dispersed
and missed. However, Melchor told me that when he went to Santiago de
Compostela and he had his first lesson from Segovia, after he had finished
to play a piece, the maestro asked him: "Whom did you learnt from?" and,
when Melchor answered "From Salvador Garcia", Segovia felt visibly touched
and asked "Is he still alive?".

This is the state of the art regarding Segovia's life and studies before he
left Spain for the first time (1920), when he went to Argentina, where his
international career started.
Dr. Lawrence A. McDonald, D.M.A., Art Kaplan Fellow
Author of The Conservatory Tutor for Guitar
2008 Michael Thames Cd/Br
Royal Conservatory Advanced Guitar Instructor
Royal Conservatory Advanced Theory Instructor

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Batstone
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Batstone » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:08 pm

thanks for posting this. Very interesting

ChiyoDad

Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by ChiyoDad » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:29 pm

Ha-ha! Didn't we explore this under Andres Segovia's Father?

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Tomzooki
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Tomzooki » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:16 pm

So Segovia was not an autodidact... :wink:
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ChiyoDad

Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by ChiyoDad » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:52 pm

Tomzooki wrote:So Segovia was not an autodidact... :wink:
I don't know. I never heard him make moral observations about cars.
:P :wink:

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Anthony Campanella
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Anthony Campanella » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:40 pm

No doubt Segovia learned from others but no one taught him to become the most famous guitarist of all time

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Cary W
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Cary W » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:11 pm

Anthony Campanella wrote:become the most famous guitarist of all time
You can't teach that... :mrgreen:
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Anthony Campanella
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Anthony Campanella » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:25 pm

Thanks for the story Larry!

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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by el Corcobés » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:04 pm

Coming from Granada it's not difficult to understand how Segovia would have been submerged with the ritmos of Flamenco.
In the Albaicin there is an open plaza just in front of a church , i think it may be called Plaza San Francisco or something like that,which looks across on to the Alhambra . At evening time with the declining sun reflecting on the dorada of the walls of the Alhambra, one regularly finds countless young mozos y chicos playing fantastic flamenco instinctively al aire libre.

Mick the Ramirez Man

Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Mick the Ramirez Man » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:56 pm

Enjoyed reading that! :)

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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Dofpic » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:25 pm

according to segovia in "Los Olivos" he took lessons for three months from a local teacher as a young boy but after three months he could "learn no longer" as there was nothing more to teach him. Rey de la Torre said Llobet taught him how he did his Granados transcriptions and gave him pointers on how to play them. so this seemed to me also like lessons for a short period of time but Segovia never admitted is as such. He says "I had to rescue the guitar from the dirty hands of the flamenco players."
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JohnPierce

Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by JohnPierce » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:00 am

Dofpic wrote:[Segovia] says "I had to rescue the guitar from the dirty hands of the flamenco players."
Do you happen to have a reference for that quote, preferably a primary source or containing a reference to a primary source (ideally, in Spanish)? I've seen references to it off and on for a very long time, and it's one of the things I've disliked about Segovia. It's a remarkably bigoted statement for a musician of his stature to have made publicly about other musicians. I don't believe I've ever heard any other professional classical guitarist make a similar statement about, e.g., rock guitarists, though heaven knows amateur CG players make such disparaging statements all the time.

In any case, I've never seen a primary source for the statement, nor have I ever seen any indication of its context (e.g., one can easily imagine it being said in a joking context). It also seems to conflict in a way with this [excerpted] 1977 interview with Segovia: http://www.flamencoexperience.com/blog/?cat=26, which casts a somewhat different light on his attitude toward flamenco and flamenco performers. While in its way it's a not much less bigoted attitude, it can at least be taken as defending the purity of an art form from its (in his opinion) modern debasers - more or less like the early-60s folkies' horror, wailing, and lamentations when electric guitars first appeared on their sacred ground.

Bob Cleary

Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Bob Cleary » Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:11 am

There is a video on you tube where Segovia says he had to rescue the guitar from the "noisy" hands of the flamenco players. Search for Segovia at Los Olivos.

JohnPierce

Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by JohnPierce » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:28 am

Thank you. "Noisy" hands is rather far from "dirty" hands. Taken with the interview I linked above, it would seem to be consistent with the thoughts he expressed about the direction of modern flamenco music and players.

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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Luis_Br » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:50 am

Thanks for the post, Larry.

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