The flamenco guitar in classical music

  • Tonadilla A Barrios Arr J L González Guitarras Alhambra

    The classical guitarists, Daniel Fortea, Regino Sainz de la Maza, Angel Barrios or Quintin Esquembre composed using the flamenco guitar as basis.

    These Spanish guitarists were born in the XIX century; but in their career in the XX century, they provided interesting compositions to the Spanish music repertoire for the six-stringed instrument, and in many of their works, an important influence of flamenco guitar is denoted.

    The first of them, Daniel Fortea (Benlloch, 1878 – Castellón, 1953), was a guitarist and a prolific composer. He was a direct student of Francisco Tarrega, who is widely known around the world. Among his several compositions, we can find works such as ‘Andaluza’, ‘Malagueña’, ‘Tango Flamenco’, ‘Sevillanas’ and many other works with a noticeable style of flamenco guitar, which is intermingled with delicate classical compositions.

    Regino Sainz de la Maza (Burgos, 1886 – Madrid, 1981), a successful guitarist and composer, was a close friend of Federico García Lorca and he was the responsible for the premiere of the famous Concierto de Aranjuez in 1940.

    Precisely, together with García Lorca, he was the responsible for harmonizing popular melodies or even some of the García Lorca’s works. Among them: Capture of Antoñito el Camborio on the way to Seville (Prendimiento de Antoñito el Camborio camino de Sevilla).

    Among the Sainz de la Maza’s compositions, we find "Solea", "Petenera", "Andaluza" or "Zapateado", which are pieces inspired in the flamenco guitar and where the pleasure and love for this art are perceived.

    Angel Barrios Fernandez (Granada, 1882 – Madrid, 1964), a Sainz de la Maza’s friend, was a Spanish composer and guitarist, son of a famous player and singer, who was a Falla’s friend and an attendee of the intellectual bohemian social gathering known as "el Rinconcillo". Angel was also a member of this coterie.

    Author of an opera, symphonic works and several zarzuelas, Angel Barrios composed music for guitar and also music with piano accompaniment.

    Works like "Grenadine Flower" or "Streams of the Alhambra" with its remarkable "Tonadilla", show a composer with pure Spanish temperament and with significant nuances of flamenco guitar.

    Quintin Esquembre (Villena, 1885 – ¿?, 1965) was also a Spanish guitarist and composer, he was well known in Valencia for his composition "The entrada", a bullfighting pasodoble which is performed in the celebration called Moors and Christians.

    Recently, Esquembre has been named the favourite son, posthumously, of the municipality of Villena (Alicante).

    He made several transcriptions and arrangements, among his works we could highlight those which are made for three guitars, whose authors are Granados, Falla and Turina. Works which were interpreted by the Esquembre trio, in which his own son was a member.

    Some of his compositions like "Beach Song" and "Tap-dance" (“Zapateado”) have the Spanish character, in which the flamenco guitar comes to our mind. In particular, the first one, which is made as a seguidilla, a kind of Spanish song which was part of the most genuine repertoire in the XVIII century, where singers could let their imagination flow by means of words.

    The contribution to the culture of these great musicians shows again the presence of the flamenco guitar in the classical music world, providing melodies and structures to the public , which strengthen the passion for an eminent Spanish instrument, the guitar.