Francisco Tarrega - Biography

Francisco Tarrega 
21 November 1852, Vila-real
15th December 1909, Valencia
Francisco Tárrega was born in Villa-real, Spain on November 21, 1852. He was one of the most influential guitarists the world has ever known. He is considered by many to be the father of the modern classical guitar

Francisco Tarrega Biography

Francisco Tarrega-Eixea was born in Vila-real, on 21st of November 1852, in a house beside the Saint Paschal Baylon sanctuary. Both his father Francisco Tarrega-Tirado and his mother Antonia Eixea-Broch were working as housekeepers for the Mothers Clarisas.
Because of his parents jobs, little Francisco was taken care by a baby-sitter. At a certain moment, Francisco went running out of the house and fell into an irrigation channel, which brought about a hard shock that harmed his eyes forever.

His father thought that Francisco could loose completely the ability to see, so they moved to Castellon in order to make Francisco assist music classes so that, in case he became blind, he could earn some money by playing music. It was peculiarly a blind musician, Eugeni Ruiz, who teached Tarrega his first music lessons. Later in his life he met another blind musician, Manuel Gonzalez, also known as 'El cego de la Marina'. It was he who initiated him into the guitar world. This man made his living out of playing music, and knew very well all tricks to warm up the audience, secrets that he teached the young Tarrega. (I give up right here. The grammer errors are far too much! I tried! =O)

In 1862, the famous concertist Julian Arcas played in Castellon and had a chance to hear the child playing. He was very impressed by the child's ability and advised his father to bring him to Barcelona in order to enhance his music studies. Therefore, Tarrega went to Barcelona, but soon he left his relatives house where he was staying and joined a group of young musicians, playing around pubs and cafeterias to earn some money instead of going to the music school. His father was told of this attitude, so that he went to Barcelona bringing Tarrega back home.

The family economics situation forces Tarrega to cooperate to the incomes so that, after several concerts around neighboor villages, he gets a place of pianist at the Burriana's Casino. During this time, he alternates the pianist job with a strong defence of the guitar. A rich businessman, Antonio Canesa, pays Tarrega a trip to Madrid to enhance his music knowledge at the Spanish Music Conservatory. When he arrives there, he's bringing his first guitar of quality, made by Antonio Torres from Seville, guitar that will become Tarrega's prefered forever.

The years as a student are difficult. Piano is the most fashioned instrument, whereas the guitar has lost her prior prestige, dropping to a very low level in the instruments' scale. Being considered not good for playing concerts, her role was reduced as singer's complement.

It was in the Spanish Music Conservatory itself where, once his teacher Arrieta saw Tarrega's great quality for the guitar after a concert, he embraced Tarrega and said to him: 'Guitar needs you, and you were born for her'. From that very moment, Tarrega left his piano career and focused exclusively to his prefered instrument.

During winter 1880, Tarrega substituted his friend and guitar player Luis de Soria in a concert in Novelda (Alicante), city where he meets his future wife Maria Rizo.

His fame was growing and his feeling atracts the audiences. In 1881 he goes to France. After a wonderful concert in Lyon, he arrives to Paris and meets the most important VIPs. He plays in several Theaters, being even invited to play for the Queen of Spain Isabel II, and later he continues his tour to London. He returns from there to Novelda to get married with Maria Rizo.

The new family moves to Madrid, where his first daugher, Maria Josefa, is born and dies. Then they move to Barcelona, travelling from there to many places for playing. This is Tarrega's mature period. He starts frequent tours. Perpignan (France), Cadiz (Spain), Nice (France), Mallorca (Spain), Paris, Valencia, ....
In Valencia he meets a lady that influenced him: Conxa Martinez, rich widow that takes him under artistic protection. She lends him and his family a house in Sant Gervasi (Barcelona). It is there where Tarrega composes most of his most famous masterpieces.

Back from a trip to Granada he writes the tremolo 'Recuerdos de la Alhambra' -Alhambra's memories- and being in Algeria he gets inspired for composing 'Danza Mora' -Morish Dance-. It is there where he meets composer Saint-Saens and later, in Seville, he writes most of his 'Estudios', dedicating to his beloved friend and composer Breton the beautiful composition 'Capricho Arabe' -Arabian Caprice-.

However, Tarrega was not satisfied with the sound he was getting out of his guitar and, being 50 years old, in 1902, he bets for his own prestige and starts cutting stepby step his nails until almost make them dissappear under his finger's skin, that became harder till obtaining that sweet sound characteristic of his school.

He continues his great concerts: Bilbao in Spain, Geneve, Milano, Firence, Naples and Rome in Italy. He shows his uncomparable masterhood allover this country, as the chronicles reflect, making many friends and fans.

But even the fame cannot change Tarrega's behaviour. Lovely and sensible men, he keeps opening his home to all his friends regardless their social condition. Tarrega was a timid person that prefered familiar concerts with a reduced number of attendees rather than big concert theaters. This behaviour made him to spend most of the money he earned, so that his brother Vicente was who helped many times the family by giving guitar classes to Tarrega's pupils when in tour.

But Tarrega was not lucky and in January 1906 an hemiplegy became his body's left side paralitic. He recovered slowly and painfully. The long illness exhausted the family's funds, so that his many friends proved themselves as such by returning him all favours he made to them previously. They arranged a series of concerts 'Audicions Tarrega' in which the master offered bimonthly concerts payed by his friends.

Tarrega recovers and starts again on tour. In October 1908 he feels nostalgic and returns to Castellon. Then he goes to Novelda in 1909, coming back to Valencia, Cullera and Alcoi for playing some concerts. In Picanya composes his lasts work, 'Oremus', dated 2nd December. On 3rd December he feels bad and returns to Barcelona, staying at his house at the Valencia Street until the 15th December 1909 in the early morning, when he dies.

This was submited by me...Scooter. If you play classical guitar, I really suggest to take the time to study his peices. There very amazing and beautiful! He is by far my favorite!! Besides the fact that I was born on the SAME EXACT DATE AS HIM!! Except for the year (of course) I was born in 1983. Cool huh? Take care..Scooter

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