Spanish guitar great Andres Segovia arrives in the United States for his final American tour. He died four months later in Madrid at the age of 94.
Segovia was hailed for bringing the Spanish guitar from relative obscurity to classical status. Born in Spain’s southern region of Andalusia–the original home of the guitar–Segovia studied the piano and cello as a child but soon became captivated with the guitar. Knowing of no advanced teachers of an instrument that was generally banished to the cafes, he taught himself and in 1909 gave his first public performance at the age of 15. To successfully render classical material, Segovia invented countless new techniques for the guitar, and by his first appearance in Paris in 1924, he was a virtuoso. His American debut came four years later in New York City.
Segovia greatly enlarged the guitar’s repertory with his transcript of classical works originally written for the lute and harpsichord. A favorite composer was Johann Sebastian Bach, whose music easily lent itself to his expressive style. Segovia also encouraged the writing of works for the guitar by 20th-century composers such as Heitor Villa-Lobos, Alfredo Casella, and Albert Roussel. He continued to tour into his 90s.