The Classical guitar has a long and intriguing history. It’s origins date back to the renaissance but the instrument as we know it today was first developed in the late 1700s. It gained popularity during this time with the emergence of such player composers as Mauro Giuliani and Fernando Sor who were virtuosi of the instrument.
The repertoire from this period is quite extensive though few major composers wrote for it. This is mainly due to the fact that it was a salon instrument meant for intimate performances, and not suitable for inclusion into the larger developing orchestras. The instrument itself went through some changes in the second half of the 19th Century mainly due to the pioneering work of Antonio Torres. He helped to create a louder and more potent instrument suiteable for concert appearances.
The leading guitar figure of the late 1800s was Franciso Tarrega who wrote and transcribed some fantastic pieces. Tarrega’s works for the guitar are considered some of the most beautiful and idiosynchratic. Recuerdos De La Alhambra is one of the most played and recognised pieces for the classical guitar.
There were many notable guitarists who followed Tarrega’s footsteps but none more than Andres Segovia. He was not only a gifted player but a visionary. he saw the classical guitar as a serious concert instrument and set about creating international interest in the guitar, transcribing, and commissioning works from some major composers of the time. Some of these included Villa-Lobos, Ponce, and Rodrigo.
He also taught and guided the next wave of guitarists many of whom would become very succeful in their own right and develop the gutar and its repertoire in their own directions. The most notable of these include John Williams, Alirio Diaz, Julian Bream, and more recently Manuel Barrueco.