Fritz Kreisler once said that the two greatest performing musicians of the twentieth century were Pablo Casals and Andrés Segovia. He had two prime reasons, first, their extraordinary artistic spirits and, second, the fact that both elevated their chosen instrument to unprecedented levels on the international concert platform.
"My life has been an ascending line, slowly, but ascending line. It came, everything came, but I was not to be distracted, not to answer another call. In that consists the miracle of my will, in persisting in the road I had taken. The rest was in the mysterious stars of my firmament."
In Western classical music, the achievement of Andrés Segovia is unique. As a boy in Granada, he was captivated by the variety of tone colours and the wealth of harmonic possibilities of the Spanish guitar and he saw a future for it that nobody had previously even dreamed of. On those seemingly slender beginnings, he set out on a remarkable quest.
Playing the music written by Fernando Sor and Francisco Tarrega in the nineteenth century and adding the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach, he began to build, not only a career for himself, but to lay the foundations of modern guitar technique and the present-day international popularity of the Spanish guitar as a serious musical instrument, an instrument capable of musical expression at the very highest level.
Within twenty years, Andrés Segovia had taught himself the instrument, revolutionised the technique and won acceptance for it on the concert platforms of Europe. He spent the next fifty years giving concerts in almost every part of the world and was at various times a resident of Spain, The United States, Switzerland and Argentina.
At the age of 75, he returned to his native Andalusia with his young wife, Emilita, to build a new home, Los Olivos, on the Costa del Sol as close as he could to Granada where he spent his childhood. Segovia at Los Olivos is made in the relaxed atmosphere of his new home and in Jaen and Granada where he spent his formative years. The idea is very simple: to give a great man an opportunity to look back on sixty years of concert life and one of the most astonishing contributions to Western music made by any performing musician in the last hundred years.
Berliner Philharmoniker, Waldbühne 2001
Written by Cristobal Halffter. A film by Christopher Nupen