Romero Guitar Quartet
Over half a century after walking onto the world stage as the first classical guitar quartet, The Romeros continue to be a veritable institution in the world of classical music, dazzling countless audiences and winning the raves of reviewers worldwide.
Known to millions as “The Royal Family of the Guitar,” the Romeros were founded by the legendary Celedonio Romero with his sons Celin, Pepe and Angel in 1958. The Quartet went through natural transformations, and today consists of the second (Celin & Pepe) and third generations (Lito & Celino).
An error in a recent mailer said this program would be in a different venue. The concert will take place in Knowles Memorial Chapel.Get Tickets On the Program
Ruperto Chapi y Lorente Preludio from La Revoltosa
Born March 27, 1851 in Villena, near Alicante
Died March 25, 1909 in Madrid
Ruperto Chapí is probably most well-known for his zarzuelas. The zarzuela is a form that goes way back in Spanish musical history. Originated in 1657, and named for the hunting lodge of King Philip IV of Spain, the zarzuela is a light opera that runs the gamut from comic theater to high classical opera. The genre became so popular in Spain that even foreign composers like the Italian, Boccherini were commissioned to write zarzuelas. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the artistic output of Spain was greatly reduced due to the financial and artistic plight of the country. The second half of the nineteenth century brought a renaissance to the zarzuela, often referred to as the “Golden Age of the Zarzuela.” It is during this period that the zarzuela begins to resemble the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. It is also from this period that one of its most popular productions was written.
La revoltosa was premiered in Madrid at the Teatro Apolo on November 25, 1897. It is not a large-scale work, as it only lasts 35 minutes, and much of that is orchestral interludes and street music. However, its brilliant libretto by José Lopez Silva and Carlos Fernández Shaw and its exuberant atmospheric music have maintained its constant popularity. Not only has it been the inspiration for numerous films, but it has formed the template of a whole genre of imitations. The story is a complicated plot of love, jealousy and trickery. Two people who seem to be forever at one another’s throats are secretly in love with each other, the plotting of the neighbors eventually gets them to admit their feelings and the zarzuela ends with the lovers in each other’s arms. The Preludio is a lively orchestral overture that is based on the main themes of the work.
© 1998 Columbia Artists Management Inc.
– Elizabeth Ely Torres
Isaac Albéniz Leyenda (Asturias)
Leyenda (Asturias from Suite Española no.1 and Prélude from Chants d’Espagne)
Born May 29, 1860 in Camprodón, Lérida
Died May 18, 1909 in Cambô-les-Bains
Isaac Albéniz began the important modern movement in Spanish music and is largely responsible for its extraordinary popularity. His talent as a pianist was obvious almost from infancy and he was known as the “Spanish Rubenstein”. By petition of Debussy, Fauré and other distinguished composers, the French government presented Albéniz the medal of the Legion of Honor.
The first movement (Prelude) of the suite Chants d’Espagne, later retitled by the publisher after the composer’s death as Asturias (Leyenda), is probably most famous today as part of the classical guitar repertoire (heard here in a transcription by Pepe Romero), though it was composed originally for the piano. Its driving rhythm and soulful, middle section illustrate the great inspiration Albéniz found in Andalucía, particularly Granada.
Joaquin Turina Fantasía Sevillana
Born December 9, 1882 in Seville
Died January 14, 1949 in Madrid
Next to Falla, Turina plays the most significant role in Spanish impressionistic music. Educated in Spain, Turina left his native country to spend a decade in Paris where he became close friends and collaborator with Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albéniz, who provided the stimulus for directing Turina’s efforts toward the writing of Spanish nationalistic music.
Perhaps in his own words Turina describes this work for solo guitar best:
“My music is the expression of the feeling of a true Sevillian who did not know Seville until he left it, and this is mathematics, yet it is necessary for the artist to move away to get to know his country, as for the painter who makes some steps backwards to be able to take in the complete picture.”
© 2000 Columbia Artist Management Inc.
Joaquin Rodrigo Tonadilla
Born in Sagunto, Spain, November 22, 1901
Died in Madrid, July 6, 1999
Joaquín Rodrigo was born on November 22, 1901, at Sagunto in the Spanish province of Valencia. Blinded at the age of three, he has, from an early age, devoted himself wholly to music. In 1926, after early artistic successes in his homeland, he went to Paris where he studied composition with Paul Dukas for five years. There he also made the acquaintance of Manuel de Falla, whose friendship greatly influenced Rodrigo’s later career. Probably best known for his Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra, Rodrigo has numerous compositions for the guitar that have become staples of the instrument’s repertoire.
“Tonadilla” was written in 1959 for the guitar duo of Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya. In this highly virtuoso piece, Rodrigo alludes to the short, comic operas which were played as intermezzos between the acts of theatre performances in 18th century Spain.
© 2005 Claudia Tornsäufer
Luigi Boccherini Introduction and Fandango from Guitar Quintet No. 4
Quintet No. 4 in D major for Guitar and Strings, G.448, “Fandango”
Born February 19, 1743, in Lucca
Died May 28, 1805, in Madrid
Of all the Italian composers who devoted themselves to instrumental music, Boccherini was one of the greatest. His father was either a cellist or bass player, and as a child he studied the cello and composition. From an early age, the boy’s prodigious talents were obvious; he made his public debut as a cellist at age thirteen. Boccherini’s reputation grew with his progress as performer as well as composer, and he gained appointments at Vienna in 1757, and at Lucca in 1763. In 1766, he undertook an extensive concert tour that lasted for several years. In 1770 the composer was appointed to the service of the Infante Don Luis, brother of the King of Spain, as exclusive composer and as performer. He subsequently served appointments to the King of Prussia and at Potsdam before returning to Madrid, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Boccherini was a prolific composer; his known works include two operas, church music, over twenty symphonies and an abundance of chamber music, for an output of over 400 entries in his catalogue. Boccherini’s music was quite original for its time, and Italians and Germans alike contended for this musician; during the 1790s his music was much in demand in Paris, London and Madrid, and is said to have been highly regarded by Haydn himself. In the 19th century, however, his work was misrepresented as the result of considerable re- arranging, re-orchestrating and general reworking by publishers.
Boccherini’s chamber music, especially his quartets and quintets, was immensely popular in its time. English composer and music historian Charles Burney wrote in 1776: “There is perhaps no instrumental music more ingenious, elegant, and pleasing, than his quintets: in which invention, grace, modulation, and good taste, conspire to render them, when well executed, a treat for the most refined hearers and critical judges of musical composition.” Like Mozart, Boccherini died in poverty, and like the Austrian master’s music, his works became even more popular immediately following his death. Eventually, however, Boccherini’s music fell out of favor with performers, and it was not until the middle of our own century, that the freshness and grace of his works came to be appreciated again.
After a slow introduction marked Grave assai, the lengthy last movement takes the form of a Fandango, a Castilian and Andalusian courtship dance in triple meter and moderately fast in tempo, exhibiting the voluptuousness of its gypsy origins. In testament to Boccherini’s originality, the last movement includes optional parts for castanets and sistrum, an Arabic tambourine-like instrument. In all, the Quintet presents a charming picture of 18th century Madrid, masterfully melding grace and impishness with a festive popular mood.
© 1995 Columbia Artists Management Inc.
Manuel de Falla Miller’s Dance from El sombrero de tres picos
Danza de Molinero (“The Miller’s Dance”)
MANUEL DE FALLA
Born November 23, 1876 in Cádiz
Died November 14, 1946 in Alta Gracia, Argentina
Falla’s music is extremely nationalistic and always suggests the rhythms and movements of classic and flamenco Spanish dance. Manuel de Falla once heard a flamenco guitarist playing a farruca and the experience stayed in his mind and later became the “Millers Dance”. His most famous ballet, known in English as The Three-Cornered Hat, is based on the story of the pursuit of a pretty miller’s wife by an amorous old gentleman, and of the manner in which the miller makes him appear a fool. This farruca, danced by the Miller, shows his great passion and jealousy for his wife.
Manuel de Falla Danza Española No. 1 from La vida breve
La Vida breve
MANUEL DE FALLA
Born November 23, 1876 in Cádiz
Died November 14, 1946 in Alta Gracia, Argentina
Falla was born in Cadiz, and had his first musical training with his mother, who was a talented pianist. He himself won honors as a pianist and composer with the well-known La Vida breve while still a young man. He lived in Paris until the outbreak of World War I, where he befriended Ravel and Debussy.
After Falla’s sixth attempt at a hit zarzuela went nowhere, he pushed the genre boundaries a bit with the lyric drama La vida breve (composed in 1904–1905; revised in 1913), a loving depiction of Granada in a brutal tale of betrayed gypsy love—and saw it languish for almost a decade before finally being produced… in Nice, in a French translation. The restless Danza Española No. 1 comes from the beginning of the second act, where a wedding party is in progress.
Heitor Villa Lobos Preludios No. 1 and No. 3
Preludes 1, 3
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
Heitor Villa-Lobos has made probably more impact than any other composer has on twentieth-century guitar music. A cellist and guitarist who played popular music, Villa-Lobos spent his lifetime collecting popular tunes of Brazil; the characteristic rhythms and melodic shapes of Brazilian music permeate his compositions. His first work for the guitar was the Suite populaire bresilienne, composed between 1908 and 1912 during the period when the composer was traveling the countryside collecting folk music. The set five Preludes were composed at the height of his creative life in 1940. They each depict the nostalgic folk feeling that Brazilians call “saudosismo.”
The preludes each bear an inscription in the manuscript that does not appear in the printed edition. These are as follows with commentary from composer/guitarist John Duarte: “No. 1: ‘Lyrical melody. To the common people of Brazil,’ contrasting a soaring, cello-like tune with a bustling middle section, two diametric faces of the national character, melancholy and optimism.”
No. 3: ¨Homage to Bach¨- It has been said that Bach and the guitar were Villa-Lobos’ biggest passions and it can be clearly seen in the two-section Prelude 3. The first section has a vertical structure, including chords and arpeggios. The second is a descendent melody with a pedal on the soprano, which is a Baroque device. So that, it could be seen as a Toccata-like form, which explains the subtitle ‘Homage to Bach’.
– Carissa Romero
Celedonio Romero Alegrías from Suite Andaluza
Born March 2, 1913 in Malaga
Died May 8, 1996 in San Diego, CA
”A mi hijo, el gran guitarrista Pepe Romero”, is the inscription on the Suite Andaluza as Celedonio Romero wrote the collection on the occasion of Pepe Romero’s first concert.
The composer began playing the guitar at a very early age. He once said “Perhaps I was a guitarist in some earlier existence. Because when I picked up the guitar as a very young child, I simply began to play, as if my fingers had already been trained.” His parents thought that they should develop this talent, and saw to it that he had the very best teachers. In Malaga he studied with Don Leandro Rivera Pons. Celedonio enjoyed a close friendship with composer Joaquín Turina, and his style of composition was greatly influenced by Turina. As the patriarch of the world’s most famous guitar quartet, his performing career went hand-in-hand with his compositional career.
Its movements are each inspired by Flamenco dances. The different dances indicate the type of meter and mode according to the name. Alegrías is marked Allegro and is a rendition of this lively flamenco dance from Cadiz. It contains a central slow movement, silencio in which the dancer demonstrates graceful upper body, arm and hand movements. Zapateado is named for the Spanish dance that is characterized by keeping time by stamping one’s feet on the floor. The final movement, Fantasia, is a technical showpiece. It is reminiscent of the very first efforts of Celedonio improvising on the guitar when he was a small child. His father would come home from work and ask him to play “los compuestos”, which to them meant “improvisations. Fantasía received its basic form is from the Cuban rhythm of guajiras.
Enrique Granados Danza No. 2 “Oriental”
Born July 27, 1867 in Lérida, Spain
Died March 24, 1916 at sea, English Channel
Enrique Granados is revered today as the founder of the modern Spanish school of composition. As with Chopin, Liszt, Grieg, and Dvořák, he turned to the folk music of his native land as a source of inspiration for his works. Granados undertook his early musical studies at the Barcelona Conservatory. In 1884 he enrolled at the Madrid Conservatory where he came under the tutelage of Felipe Pedrill, who inspired Granados to create music in an authentic Spanish style rooted in the folk music of his native people. Granados traveled to Paris in 1887 and studied privately with Charles de Bériot. He returned to Barcelona two years later and presented his first public recital.
He composed a collection of Danzas españolas, this one named for his beloved Andalucia (even though he was from Catalonia). Family members recounted to the Romeros the story of his being unhappy with his work and throwing away the manuscript, which was later recovered by his wife who thought it to be one of his most lovely works.
Granados came to the United States in order to attend the premiere of his composition Goyescas by the New York Metropolitan Opera on January 26, 1916. The performance was a tremendous success. Soon thereafter, the composer wrote to a friend, “I have a whole world of ideas. . . I am only now starting my work.” Tragically, his life would end a mere two months after writing the letter.
Asked to perform a recital at the White House for President Woodrow Wilson, Granados delayed his return to Europe by a week. Sailing aboard the Sussex with his wife, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine while in mid-channel between England and the continent on March 24, 1916. Granados was picked up by a lifeboat but saw his wife still struggling in the sea. He dove into the waters to save her, where both drowned.
Pepe Romero Suite flamenca
En el Sacromonte (from Suite flamenca) Pepe Romero (1944)
Moved by his love for the mystery and magic of Granada, one evening while sitting in the Sacromonte and viewing the Alhambra he felt the mysterious blend of the various cultures – Moor, Andaluz, Jewish, gypsy that have lived in this special place. As the Sacromonte is the birthplace of the sambra granadina (a dance of gypsy and Arabic forms) he was moved to compose this piece in which each of the four guitars represents the musical traditions of the four great cultures that survived in the caves of the Sacromonte.
Colombianas (from Suite flamenca)
In the late 1950’s Pepe Romero became a close friend of both Carmen Amaya and Sabicas who greatly popularized the flamenco rhythm of “colombianas”. Continuing his homage to these artists, this piece is written in the flavor of the “cantes de ida y vuelta” which were flamenco rhythms resulting from the cultural interchange between Spain and the new world, specifically between Cadiz and la Habana. The basic rhythms used in this work are “colombianas”– a mixture of Colombian folk melody with the rhythmic structure of the Cuban “guajiras” and the “rumba gitana”.
Over half a century after walking onto the world stage as the first classical guitar quartet, The Romeros continue to be a veritable institution in the world of classical music, dazzling countless audiences and winning the raves of reviewers worldwide. Known to millions as “The Royal Family of the Guitar,” the Romeros were founded by the legendary Celedonio Romero with his sons Celin, Pepe and Angel in 1958. The Quartet went through natural transformations, and today consists of the second (Celin & Pepe) and third generations (Lito & Celino). To have so many virtuosi of the same instrument in one family is unique in the world of musical performance, and in the realm of the classical guitar it is absolutely without precedent. The New York Times has said: “Collectively, they are the only classical guitar quartet of real stature in the world today; in fact, they virtually invented the format.” Celebrating their fifty-fifth anniversary, the season will include tours in Asia, Europe, South America and the United States. The Romeros will also be presenting special concerts and festivals in memory of the 100th anniversary of patriarch Celedonio Romero, including a performance in their birth city of Málaga, Spain. As the family says, “the spirit of the quartet is him; all our concerts now pay homage to him.” In 1957, the family left Spain and immigrated to the United States, where three years later, “The Romeros” became the first guitar quartet while the boys were still in their teens. The Romero tradition of family and love for the guitar provided the fertile ground for the next generation of guitar virtuosos as Celino and Lito joined the quartet. A recent project with Deutsche Grammophon included a much-anticipated Christmas music recording featuring favorites from around the world. “Christmas with Los Romeros” was released worldwide in 2012, accompanied by a tour in Europe (2012) and the United States (2013) featuring music from this recording. Other recent recordings include a recital CD by Sony Red Seal label, entitled appropriately: Los Romeros: Celebration and DECCA released a retrospective collection, Los Romeros: Golden Jubilee Celebration. The sterling reputation of The Romeros has been confirmed by repeated recital performances and orchestral appearances with symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Sevilla, Amsterdam, Munich, Rome, Shanghai, Seoul, among many others. They have made frequent festival appearances throughout the world, including the Hollywood Bowl, Saratoga, Blossom, Wolf Trap, Salzburg, and Schleswig-Holstein. The Romeros are particularly popular with college audiences, making regular appearances on university music series throughout the country as well as on fine arts series worldwide. In New York, they have been repetitively invited to Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, the 92nd Street Y and Rockefeller University. They have appeared at Vienna’s Gesangsverein and Konzerthaus, the Berlin Philharmonie, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Zurich Tonhalle, Madrid Auditorio Nacional de Musica, and the Beijing Concert Hall. Touring worldwide, The Romeros have performed on multiple occasions at the White House. In 1983, they appeared at the Vatican in a special concert for John Paul II, and in 1986, they gave a command performance for his Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. In 2000, His Royal Majesty King Juan Carlos I of Spain knighted Celin, Pepe and Angel into the Order of “Isabel la Católica”. Perhaps The Romero’s most lasting legacy is the creation of an entirely new repertoire for guitar quartet, both as a chamber ensemble and as a concerto soloist. For 55 years, The Romeros have inspired distinguished composers to either write new works or arrange existing ones, including Joaquín Rodrigo, Federico Moreno Torroba, Morton Gould, Francisco de Madina and Lorenzo Palomo. As Rodrigo has said, “The Romeros have developed the technique of the guitar by making what is difficult to be easy. They are, without a doubt, the grand masters of the guitar.” With a 55-year plus history, The Romeros have built an enviable discography. Their achievements have not gone unnoticed. In February of 2007, The Romeros were granted The Recording Academy’s President’s Merit Award from the GRAMMYs© in honor of their artistic achievements. Television fans have seen and heard The Romeros many times on such shows as The Tonight Show and The Today Show, PBS’s Evening at the Boston Pops, the KPBS/PBS biographical documentary Los Romeros: The Royal Family of the Guitar, other PBS specials and the NDR documentary film Los Romeros: Die Gitarren-Dynastie.