Music and Vision homepage


Joaquín Rodrigo, 1901 - 1999

Joaquín Rodrigo, 1901 - 1999Joaquin Rodrigo who died on 6 July at the age of 97, had been blind from the age of three, and enjoyed one of those remarkable reputations built entirely on one work, the Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra, first heard in 1940 on the composer's return to Spain at the end of the Civil War from exile in Paris. He wrote a wide range of other pieces, including concertos for piano, violin and cello; madrigals, a ballet, an opera and a 'zarzuela' - a national song-dance-dialogue form - and much piano music for his wife Victoria Kamhi, whose poems he set. But it was the famous guitar concerto that attached his name to the popular sound of Spain. Many thought he must be a fine guitar player, but in an interview in 1983 he admitted he could not play 'four notes in a row' on the instrument!


Joaquín Rodrigo, 1901 - 1999

'I approve of a clear type of art, joyful, profound, certainly, but not obscure.'
- Joaquín Rodrigo

1901 Born in Sagunto (Valencia) on 22nd November (St. Cecilia's Day).

1905 Lost his sight as a result of contracting diphtheria.

1910 Solfa, violin and piano lessons.

1918 Harmony and composition studies with Antich, Gomá and López Chavarri.

1923 First compositions - works for piano, violin and cello. All his compositions were written in braille and then dictated to a copyist.

1924 Juglares (first orchestral work) premièred in Valencia and Madrid.

1924 Diploma in a national competition for orchestral work Cinco
piezas infantiles
(later premièred in Paris by the Straram Orchestra).

1927-32 Study with Paul Dukas at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, soon becoming known as a pianist and composer. Met and became friends with Falla, Honegger, Milhaud and Ravel.

1929 Met Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi (an outstanding pupil of Lalewicz, Lévy and Viñes), who, having previously played Rodrigo's Gallo manañero, was curious to meet him, and offered to translate some letters to German publishers.

1933 Married Victoria Kamhi (who became Rodrigo's most important collaborator) and lived in France and Germany during the Spanish Civil War.

She has represented everything in my life. Everything. Without her I wouldn't have acomplished even half my work.   - Joaquín Rodrigo

1935 Sonada de adiós for piano in memory of Dukas (who had a particular affection for Rodrigo)

1939 Composed Concierto de Aranjuez in Paris.

1939 Returning to Spain, the Rodrigos lived in Madrid for the rest of their lives.

1939 Collaborated with the National Department of Music Broadcasts for Spanish Radio.

1939 Appointed head of the Musical Section of the Spanish National Organization for the Blind.

1939 Became Music Critic of Pueblo, Marca y Madrid

1940 First performance of Concierto de Aranjuez in Barcelona.

1945 Commission: Alfonso X el Sabio.

1947 Creator and Professor of Cátedra de Músic 'Manuel de Falla' at the University of Madrid.

1948 Cervantes Award.

1950 Became a Numerary Member of the Real Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando of Madrid.

1952 Composed the Musica para un Codice Salmantino, one of the most important works in his search for more objectivity and less nationalism.

1953 Awarded the Grand Cross of Alfonso X el Sabio (the Wise).

1954 Elected Vice President of the International Society of Contemporary Music (SIMC).

1960 Order of Officier des Arts et Lettres of the French Government.

1961 Awarded the Coupe de la guitare (France) for his Invocación y Danza.

1963 Order of Chevalier de la Légion d' Honneur of the French Government.

1964 Doctor Honoris Causa - University of Salamanca.

1966 Grand Cross of Civil Merit.

1966 Gold Medal of Merit in Work

1968 Member of the Society of European Culture

1968 Member of the Academy of the Latin World

1968 Member of Honor of the San Carlos de Valencia Academy

1976 Associate of Honor of the Ateneo of Madrid

1976 President of the National Spanish Committee of Music of the UNESCO International Council of Music (CIM).

1979 Member of the Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgigue.

1980 Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts.

1982 Doctor Honoris Causa - University of South California.

1987 Gold Medal of the Generalitat of Valencia.

1987 Member of Honor of Generalitad of Valencia.

1988 Doctor Honoris Causa - Polytechnic University of Valencia.

1988 Director of the Real Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando de Madrid.

1989 Gold Medal - University of Madrid.

1989 Doctor Honoris Causa - University of Alicante.

1989 Doctor Honoris Causa - University of Madrid.

1990 Medal of Madrid in the gold category.

1996 Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts.

1997 Two halls named after Rodrigo - the Hall of Chamber Music of the Palau de la Música de Valencia and the Hall of the Cultural Center Isabel de Farnesio de Aranjuez.

1997 Death of Victoria Kamhi de Rodrigo in Madrid.

'We have never been apart. We would not understand life without one another. Vicky has been, is my luck, my eternal companion, my invaluable collaborator.'
- Joaquín Rodrigo

1998 Winner of the Premio de la Música.

1998 Medal of Honour from the International University of Menéndez Pelayo.

1998 Winner of the Princípe de Asturias de la Concordia Yehudi Menuhin.

1999 Joaquín Rodrigo died in Madrid on July 6th, aged 98, of natural causes. TV tributes included those of Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Plácido Domingo and
Xavier Montsalvatge.


 << Music & Vision homepage