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Old 07-05-2010, 05:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Zaqarbal's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Spain
Posts: 823
Default Agustín Barrios: the classical "guitar wizard"

I wonder how much is known about Agustín Barrios (1885-1944) in the world. This Paraguayan musician is nowadays considered to be one of the best classical guitarist-composers of all time (and some say the greatest). At his time he was known worldwide and called "the guitar wizard", but I've read that, after his death, he wasn't widely renowned again until the 70's. The fact is that Barrios is praised by all the erudite classical-music lovers. The Australian guitarist John Williams says:
As a guitarist/composer, Barrios is the best of the lot, regardless of era. His music is better formed, it's more poetic, it's more everything! And it's more of all those things in a timeless way.
And since Williams is said to be one of the best living classical guitarists, I think that's an opinion to consider.

I haven't listened to all the Barrios's music, but for now, what has impressed me the most is The Cathedral (a work in three movements). Apart from the technical questions, of which I'm ignorant, I think its beauty is amazing. Also El último canto ("The Last Chant") has moved me in an unusual way.

There are several videos on YouTube showing Williams playing Barrios, but many of them are from former TV programs, therefore sound quality is not so good. But I've found two exceptions. Vals op.8 #4 and Sueño en la floresta ("A Dream at the Lush Grove"):

Barrios was the second classical guitarist who made a recording, in 1910. There is an Italian webpage with Barrios' recordings from the 1910's. Obviously, sound quality was not as good as is nowadays, but at least we can hear the composer playing his own work. Click on the blue links that say "ascolta..." ("listen to..."):


And well? What do you think? Did you know him? Personally, I have to recognize that I didn't know who was Agustín Barrios until a year ago, but that's because in general my musical culture is limited (well, actually I'm hopeless at everything ).

"Lullabies for adults / crossed by the years / carry the flower of disappointment / tattooed in their gloomy melodies."
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