Segovia's Early Teachers

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Dofpic
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Dofpic » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:03 pm

I stand corrected. it is Noisy, not dirty. My Bad.
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glassynails
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by glassynails » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:51 pm

Doesn't put anything to rest and it's not proof. Even if he was shown a few things by Llobet, that didn't necessarily mean he had routine lessons over any length of time. Why are people so astonished that someone self-taught can become a great player? Most of the great Blues and Rock guitarists were self-taught, as were tons of folk guitar players, bluegrass players, flamenco players, etc. I read that 90% of Paraguayan gypsy guitarists are self taught and can play circles around most of us cg players.

Anything can be accomplished where there's a will, with or without someone showing you how to do it. If you can pluck a string with your finger, you can learn to play guitar, but to become Segovia you have to live and breath guitar and play it 12 hours a day, nothing less. None of the great players of yesteryear or modern times became greats playing an hour a day or by having someone show them anything, they put the sweat in themselves.

Yes, Segovia may have consulted with Llobet or some old flamenco player as to initial technique (there wasn't any Youtube in those days), but all the pieces that he learned to play (and that took a long while) he learned on his own through hours of study, he didn't run home to Llobet and ask him how to play Danza No. 5, he simply learned it through hard work.

Did Jeff Beck, Clapton and Jimmy Page have teachers? West Montgomery, one of the greatest jazz guitarists was self taught also. Great people don't need anyone showing them what to do, they just do it like that old Nike commercial.
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Dofpic
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Dofpic » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:36 am

What segovia accomplished in beyond comparison even when you compare him to other players of other instruments. However there seems to be three people helped him in addition to his tireless hard work. He says in Los Olivos he took lessons for 3 months from a flamenco teacher as a young kid. Rey De La Torre says he spent time with Llobet more than some realize especially when it came to perfecting the art of transcription as he studied how Llobet made arrangements of other works especially Granados. Lastly there is no mention of Segovia's father yet there is a record that his father Judged several Flamenco competitions in Spain. Seems to me he must of learned or was influenced by him in some way. But was never mentioned by Segovia anywhere that I know of.

I highly recommend Los Olivos and Song of the Guitar. It was amazing how he played at age 75 and 84!
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Pierre330

Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Pierre330 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:14 pm

Great article Larry - thanks.

I was thinking after reading through the thread - is anyone ever truly self taught in this day and age? Even if not taking lessons, most of us use books, videos, you tube, etc. Indirectly we are learning from the person who put the material together or from watching someone play. We just don't have the guidance to find our way though the material efficiently without a teacher to act as the guide.

Just a thought on a lazy Sunday morning.

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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Dofpic » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:56 am

Your right... No one learns in a vacuum. However a great teacher will shorten your path! Segovia was probably so brilliant that he would lose patience with anyone not as brilliant as he was...So no real teacher for good reason.
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Francisco » Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:59 am

A “pure” autodidact would be a person who learns how to play the guitar without any teachers, without any books, and without having seen or even heard anyone play it. In that strict sense autodidacts don’t exist. But in the sense of lacking formal musical and guitar instruction, you can safely say Segovia was pretty much “self-taught”, especially by today’s standards.

Of course he had some instruction. But not much. A few things from his autobiography.

At the age of 5 his parents left him in the care of his uncle and aunt, who lived in a different town. He remembers the event of being suddenly separated from his mother as pretty traumatic.

His uncle liked listening to flamenco when he had a chance. But he didn’t play. They noticed or imagined a certain musical vocation in the child and placed him under the tutorship of a violin teacher who had a “hard ear and stiffer fingers”. He was also a big believer in physical torment as a learning aid, so he turned the lessons into torture sessions, pinching the boy until he made him cry, every time he made a mistake. He developed an intense fear and hatred for his teacher, who after some time told his uncle and aunt that the boy was completely inept for music, having “neither memory, measure nor ear”.

His uncle was unconvinced by this judgement and took him away from those classes. Segovia was 6 years old at the time.

Some time later, perhaps a year or two, a “strolling flamenco guitar player” with a beat up guitar full of cracks, stopped in the town and someone told him that Segovia’s uncle liked listening to flamenco and might give him some money to play for him. The vagabond flamenco player played something he called soleares, and Segovia says he felt them inside of him “as if they had penetrated every pore of my body”. He was watching the player’s hands with such attention that the guy, hoping to get a little job, asked him if he would like to receive lessons. So the player stayed and gave the child lessons for a few weeks. Segovia says: “In a month and a half I had learned everything the poor man knew, that is to say, very little”

Before getting on the road again, the teacher told Segovia’s uncle: “The boy has so much ability he doesn’t seem to learn but to remember what they teach him”. His uncle repeated this often to his friends, and Segovia says he did not understand what he meant by that.

At the age of 10 they moved to Granada and he started going to secondary school there. One of his friends took him to a guitar shop and offered to help him buy a guitar in exchange for lessons. From that point on he was spending so much time with the guitar, that he was on the verge of failing his school term, so his uncle threatened to destroy the instrument if he continued to neglect his schoolwork. Alarmed, he left the guitar with his friend for safekeeping and would go over there to play whenever he had a chance. One day he met a player of “good guitar” (i.e. classical, not flamenco) and heard him play a Tárrega prelude. So he became hooked to this “new” kind of music and wanted to start learning it immediately. He began to search for sheet music written for guitar, found some Arcas, Sor and Giuliani. He could hardly read it but some of the things the terrorist violin teacher had taught him stayed in the back of his head. With the help of friends he got a hold of a book of scales, and of music theory, as well as a guitar manual. Says that learning that way was very hard, but was the only way available to him so he kept forging ahead little by little. His uncle had no money to offer him a formal music education.

Of course in the following years he must have heard other players now and then, and pick up whatever he could from them. But mostly he learned by himself.

Probably the closest thing to an advanced instruction was the sessions he had with Llobet in Barcelona when he was 25. He had met Llobet for the first time in Valencia a few weeks earlier. This must have been 1918 or late 1917. Llobet was 40 years old. He was impressed by Segovia’s playing and suggested that Segovia should come back with him to Barcelona, where he would introduce him to people who might be able to help him. So they took the train to Barcelona together. Segovia knew that Llobet had arranged some Granados stuff, and asked him if he could have a copy of those transcriptions. Llobet told him he had not written those pieces down yet, but offered to show them to him over the course of the next few days. Llobet told him to come to his house in the mornings, bring the guitar, and he would give him the pieces phrase by phrase. There were other people present during those sessions. Two of them were guitar amateurs and tried to benefit from the sessions by attempting to learn what Llobet was showing Segovia. They soon gave up once it became obvious they could not really follow what Llobet was doing, and Llobet was forced to repeat every passage over and over and over. During these endless repetitions, Segovia would move over to a corner to practice quietly what he had learned. His impatience must have shown, and one of those players developed an intense dislike of him. In less than 10 days, Segovia learned two of Granados dances, a tonadilla and El Mestre, and was extremely happy and grateful to Llobet.

I suppose that counts as some kind of instruction, even though it seems clear that Llobet viewed Segovia as his equal, and he viewed the sessions simply as a way to pass the pieces to Segovia, not as classes to a pupil.

But the fact remains that Segovia was by and large self-taught, especially for today’s standards. He was self-taught because of two very simple reasons: First, his uncle had no money to hire a classical guitar teacher (assuming there would have been any good ones available) or pay for a formal musical education. Second, even if somehow he had managed to have enough money to offer him a formal musical education, he would never have allowed his nephew to study an instrument outside the ones commonly heard in music halls at the time. The guitar in Granada in those days was mostly a tavern instrument. Segovia was very aware of all this and knew that if he wanted to learn how to play the guitar, he would have to do it by himself.
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wingarratta
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by wingarratta » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:24 am

JohnPierce wrote:
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)?
John, the most thorough examination of Segovia's complicated relationship to flamenco is the article by Eusebio Rioja "ANDRES SEGOVIA: SUS RELACIONES CON EL ARTE FLAMENCO", which you can probably find online somewhere. If not, let me know and I'll send it to you.
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CliffK
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by CliffK » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:44 am

Thank you for this helpful post. I think placing Segovia into historical context is important.

I am doing some reading on cg and the Tarrega School. There certainly was a dedicated group around Tarrega and it is fascinating to explore this milieu. It is clear that Segovia knew this circle not simply Llobet. It is noteworthy that members of this circle, like Pujol, were active across Europe including London. Pujol gave a recital at Bechstein Hall/Wigmore Hall. Plus Llobet went to South America. Pujol was active through tours in South America. Pascual Roch came to New York and I found a reference to a recital of his in 1918, if I remember right, at Carnegie Hall and this raises the topic of early cg performance and reception in the US. Roch’s Tarrega based Method was published in the US in the early 1920 s.

Personally, I like Segovia and Bream and Williams etal. Exploring the overall historical context of the Tarrega School in Europe and in the Americas is fascinating.

This very well done dissertation on Pujol in Spanish for the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona provides a wealth of information and historical context plus performance data and discography:

http://www.tdx.cat/handle/10803/5202
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Francisco » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:23 pm

On Pujol's life and work there is this 50 min documentary that came out in 2008. Narration is in Catalan, with Spanish subtitles. There are various people interviewed, among them Alberto Ponce and Carles Trepat
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVjBzfzoM0k
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CliffK
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by CliffK » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:49 pm

Francisco, thank you for this youtube reference. I very much look forward to watching it this evening.

The dissertation is really an excellent work by truly devoted and accomplished students. The dissertation provides a great amount of useful information and analysis. There is a charming description of time young Pujol and his parents spent with Tarrega. Overall, Pujol emerges as a wonderful, intensely active, human being who left a large legacy. Also included are many names of guitarists in the Tarrega circle and others. This gives a very helpful context into which Segovia can be viewed.

Reading this dissertation inspires me to travel to Spain and to the Barcelona region.
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Tony Hyman
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Re: Segovia's Early Teachers

Post by Tony Hyman » Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:24 pm

Thanks for that Larry.From what Ive read from other sources it was pretty much a "dog eats dog" guitar world when Segovia was starting out.Jealousy being the big killer.His one real true buddies were Llobet and of course Manuel Ramirez who loved Segovia's playing and even gave Segovia his first high end guitar according to Segovia's Biography Segovia an autobiography of the years 1893-1920.The facts differ a little with account posted by you.But one should read both in order to strike a balance.Especially regarding Tarrega's students and their attitude towards the relatively "musically untrained" Segovia from their perspective.Not Tarrega himself of course,whom Segovia had no problems with. :wink: :wink:

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