Barcelona has had as residents legends like Ferran Sor, Francisco Tárrega and Miguel Llobet, and welcomed visitors such as Andrés Segovia. For this reason, it’s considered, by many, as the «cradle of the classical guitar».
Considered by many as «the cradle of the Spanish guitar», Barcelona has offered shelter and served as inspiration to great masters from Fernando Sor, born in the city, to contemporary names like the Croatian Zoran Dukic, among many other of great significance to the development of new techniques, the discovery of new sounds and to the popularization of an instrument whose passion, along the centuries, has spread throughout the world.
Due to his aversion to playing for multitudes, Tárrega, who was born in Villarreal and moved to Barcelona in 1885 -partly influenced by Julián Arcas-, dedicated his work, at the end of the 19th century, to the tasks of teaching and researching. For this reason, the city became the scenario for the «golden age» of the Spanish guitar, with illustrious residents like Miguel Llobet or Emilio Pujol and, soon, the constant presence of names like Andrés Segovia and Regino Sainz de la Maza.
Both became protagonists of memorable evenings in a just inaugurated Palau de la Música Catalana (1908). A young Segovia was the first of them, in 1916. As Ignacio Ramos Altamira describes in his book «Historia de la Guitarra y los Guitarristas Españoles», the performance at the Palau served also to prove «for the first time for his skeptical colleagues that the guitar had enough sonority to be played in big concert halls».
In the case of Sainz de la Maza, in an impoverished Barcelona – that was still suffering the consequences of almost three years of civil war -, the musician performed for the first time in the world, in 1940, also in the room designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the «Concert of Aranjuez», piece composed by the master Joaquin Rodrigo. From now on, the Spanish guitar would be welcome in the most important venues in the world.
Although the Spanish guitar lost space for almost half of a century – in 2004, for example, John Williams performed only at the Petit Palau for a small audience -, the Palau de la Música Catalana hosted unforgettable moments for the history of this instrument, like this performance of Narciso Yepes, in June of 1991. Furthermore, the iconic concert hall, for five decades, didn’t host any local classical guitarist, until the 90’s, when the maestro Manuel González was invited to offer a tribute to the 50 years of the premiere of Rodrigo’s masterpiece.
Nowadays, among the most important classical guitarists in the world, names such as Aniello Desiderio, Zoran Dukic, David Russell and Manuel Barrueco have already declared their passion and admiration for Barcelona and return, every year, to the Palau de la Música Catalana, as they say, «to feel connected to the great masters». The Spanish guitar, they know very well, will never stop being part of the soul of the capital of Catalonia.