JulianBreamGuitar.com

The BBC had offered the young Julian Bream 5 pounds to learn and play Rodrigo’s "Concierto the Aranjuez" on the BBC radio broadcast, so he went out and bought the entire score for the whole orchestra. Julian Bream likely did not know or bother to find out any background story on the concerto when he started playing it and it is not clear if he initially felt the beauty of the piece because all he remembers thinking back then was "how difficult this piece was to play".[4] While Regino Sáinz de la Maza was the dedicatee on the score, Julian likely was not aware at the time that Sáinz de la Maza, together with the Barcelona Philharmonic under César Mendoza Lasalle, gave its first performance 10 years earlier in Barcelona on November 9, 1940. A second performance a month later with a different orchestra and conductor in Madrid was also a big success. Nor was Julian likely aware that in 1948 Sáinz de la Maza made his first recording with the Spanish National Orchestra conducted by Ataúlfo Argenta. [5]  Another young guitarist like Bream, a Spaniard named Narciso Yepes, made his live debut in Madrid performing the concerto in December 1947. Yepes, like Sáinz de la Maza, also performed with Ataúlfo Argenta conducting the Spanish National Orchestra. Soon afterward, Yepes began to tour with Argenta in 1948, visiting Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and France. During this time Yepes was largely responsible for the growing popularity of the "Concierto de Aranjuez".[6] Finally, another young prodigy, Ida Presti gave the French premiere of the "Concierto de Aranjuez" in 1948. [7] It was shortly after this time period that the BBC became aware of the popularity of the "Aranjuez" and eventually offered Julian an opportunity to play it on a radio broadcast. Julian has never mentioned if he had ever heard Sáinz de la Maza's 78rpm recording of the Rodrigo piece before he performed it for the BBC. Additionally, he did not have the opportunity to see Sáinz de la Maza or Yepes perform it live since he did not travel outside of Britain until 1954. Andres Segovia did visit and tour in Britain before and after the war but he never performed the concerto in question. Additionally, he was reportedly slighted that the piece had not been dedicated to him nor was he offered to perform the premier [8].

Concierto de Aranjuez

Composed by Joaquín Rodrigo:

Julian Bream

Music of Spain, vol. 8-Joaquín Rodrigo: Last of the Spanish Romantics 
Recorded: October 2, 1981
Location: St. John's Smith Square, London, England
Instrument: Guitar-José Romanillos, 1973
Guitarist: Julian Bream
Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra: Chamber Orchestra of Europe
English Horn Solo: Michael Winfield
Producer: James Burnett. Recording Engineer: Bob Auger
Label: RCA Red Seal. Released: January 1984

Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 1  Allegro con spirito  
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Adagio    
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Allegro gentile

References

1-Escritos de Joaquín Rodrigo, Compiled by Antonio Iglesias. Editorial Alpuerto, 1999

2-Escritos de Joaquín Rodrigo, Compiled by Antonio Iglesias. Editorial Alpuerto, 1999

3-The Truth About Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’. Separating myth from fact. By Graham Wade. Classical Guitar Magazine, July 15, 2015

4-Julian Bream: My Life in Music. DVD documentary. Avie 2003

5-Regino Sáinz de la Maza - Semblanza de mi Padre. By Paloma Sáinz de la Maza, 1982

6-Narciso Yepes. Una chitarra tra passato e futuro. By Leopoldo Neri, Belén Perez Castillo and Ignacio Yepes. Curci 2015

7-John W. Duarte, "Presti, Ida," in Stanley Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001).

8-Strings  Attached - The Life & Music of John Williams. William Starling. Biteback Publishing, Robson Press 2013

9-Julian Bream: The Foundations of a Musical Career. By Stewart W. Button. Scolar Press, July 1997

10-Sean Rafferty at home with Julian Bream. Radio interview on BBC 3. December 2013

11-Julian Bream: The Foundations of a Musical Career. By Stewart W. Button. Scolar Press, July 1997

12-Strings  Attached - The Life & Music of John Williams. William Starling. Biteback Publishing, Robson Press 2013

13-Sean Rafferty at home with Julian Bream. Radio interview on BBC 3. December 2013

1-13-Cecilia Rodrigo - conversations with the webmaster.



Webmaster's note:

A special thank you to Cecilia Rodrigo for the time she dedicated to us at her father's home and at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez.  Additionally, I truly cherish my conversation with you in person and over emails in preparation for this page. Finally, thank you for reading and verifying the content of this page and for allowing the site to display pictures from the Joaquín Rodrigo archives, managed by the Victoria and Joaquin Rodrigo Foundation.


Rodrigo and Berkeley
Recorded: November 18, 1974
Location: Walthamslow Town Hall, London
Instrument: Guitar - José Romanillos 1973
Guitarist-Julian Bream
Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra: Monteverdi Orchestra
English horn solo: Michael Winfield
Producer: James Burnett.  Recording Engineer: Bob Auger
Label: RCA Red Seal. Released: October 1975

Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 1  Allegro con spirito
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Adagio    
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Allegro gentile  

Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre

*Courtesy of the Victoria and Joaquin Rodrigo Foundation

Whenever Julian Bream decided to record Joaquín Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez", it always seemed as if he made sure that it was second to nothing else on the record album.


Rodrigo, Vivaldi, Britten

Recorded: October 22, 24-26, 1963
Location: Walthamstow Town Hall, London, England
Instrument: Guitar- Robert Bouchet, 1960
Melos Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Colin Davis

Guitarist: Julian Bream
Producer: James Burnett. Recording Engineer: Alan Stagge
Label: RCA Victor Red Seal. Released: May 1964

Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 1  Allegro con spirito  
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Adagio    
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Allegro gentile   

In early 1951, the BBC contacts Julian Bream and asked him if he would play the "Concierto de Aranjuez". The seventeen-year-old Julian replied that he had never heard of it. Little did he know then that he would end up recording this concerto more than any other piece of music in his lengthy career. His extreme longevity as one of the greatest recording classical guitarists had created ample space for him to press the concerto to vinyl no less than FOUR times and record it on film a fifth. 

The actual genesis of the piece is well documented because the idea for a concerto for the solo classical guitar and orchestra was proposed by Regino Sáinz de la Maza, a well known Spanish classical guitarist of the time. Rodrigo had been invited to teach a conference at the university in Santander titled Instrumental Music in the Imperial Courts of Spain in August 1938. Rodrigo, a Spaniard, had been living in France and on his return in September, he stopped in San Sebastian. The Marqués de Bolarque had organized a dinner for Rodrigo and Sáinz de la Maza. It was at this time that Regino proposed the challenge and after a couple of glasses of wine, Rodrigo accepted. [1]
The seeds of WWII had already been planted in Europe in addition to the Spanish Civil War causing a lot of unrest and pain throughout Spain and its people. In the midst of all the tensions, Rodrigo remembered the night that he agreed to write a concerto for guitar and orchestra as being a very pleasant memory. A couple of months after his return to Paris, the second and third movements of the concerto just came to him quickly without hesitation, almost in one complete thought. The first movement did require some thought and effort but the "Concierto de Aranjuez" was completely composed in Paris by the end of 1938. The blind composer wrote it in his small apartment flat in braille and it was one of the few things he packed in his suitcase when he and his wife decided to return to Spain after WWII broke out in September 1939. [2]



The beauty of works such as the "Concierto de Aranjuez" likely has many thoughts and feelings behind them that culminated into this large musical inspiration. These thoughts and feelings of happiness and despair likely encompassed a range of events throughout Rodrigo's entire difficult life. Life-changing events such as his childhood blindness, the time when he realized that he had the gift of creating music, all the joys and anxieties that everyone feels during courtship and marriage, pleasant dinners with stimulating friendships and the difficult times in Europe that led him to leave Spain and then return. Many legendary works of art tend to conjure up stories of possible inspirations that range from myth to reality. Letters written by Rodrigo and journals kept by Rodrigo's wife Victoria have sorted out or added to some of the contradictory stories behind the inspirations for the "Aranjuez".  Whichever stories are fact or fiction, the reality is that the complete origins of inspirations are as complicated as the human mind.  Graham Wade, a well-known writer on all things classical guitar and a friend to Rodrigo wrote "That Rodrigo himself may have helped to perpetrate myths about his own masterwork is not surprising. He was the supreme poet of 20th-century Spanish music, the maker of songs and legends. Rodrigo was not a man who would let crude facts interfere with a good fable. Whatever the accretions of mythology, the music itself bears testimony to his genius."[3]  He likely not only perpetrated the myth but perpetuated it as well. In the final analysis, you don't really need a story to know that you are in the presence of great art but a good mythic story definitely helps fuel the feelings of romanticism and sorrow.

On April 21, 1951, Julian records a broadcast for BBC Arts with the BBC Opera Orchestra conducted by Stanford Robinson. They perform Rodrigo’s "Concierto the Aranjuez" [9]. Julian found the piece so difficult to play that he requested more money than the 5 pounds the BBC initially offered. The BBC finally agreed to pay him 7 guineas. This was Julian's first time playing with an orchestra and he fell in love with the entire experience and felt the true power of the concerto and an orchestra behind him.[10]

On April 24, the first broadcast was made of Julian playing the "Concierto the Aranjuez" that was recorded 3 days prior. [11] Shortly after the broadcast, the composer Terry Usher sends Len Williams and his guitarist son John, a recording of the last two movements of the concerto from the radio broadcast. Reportedly they were both very impressed with Julian's skill as a performer. They both had something to compare Julian's performance with since they had seen Yepes perform the concerto during his tour in Europe. [12]

Julian Bream recorded Joaquín Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez" FIVE times throughout his recording career. Four of those recordings appeared on record albums and one was recorded on film for the final segment of the film series ¡Guitarra! A Musical Journey Through Spain. Each time Julian Bream used a different combination of orchestra and conductor. He did use the  Chamber Orchestra of Europe and conductor John Eliot Gardiner twice but only once together.

At 80 years of age, Bream was asked about his playing of the "Concierto de Aranjuez".
"Well I did four (recordings on LPs) which I think it's a bit excessive but there it is. They're all a bit different, some have more right notes than others". [13]


To the Edge of Dream: Rodrigo, Takemitsu, Arnold
Recorded: October 1990
Location: Butterworth Hall, Warwick University Birmingham, Coventry, England
Instrument: Guitar-Hermann Hauser, 1940
Guitarist: Julian Bream
Conductor: Simon Rattle
Orchestra: City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Producer: David Groves
Balance Engineer: Michael Sheady
Editor: Giles Holland and Bob Whitney
Label: EMI Classics
Released: 1993

Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 1  Allegro con spirito
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Adagio    
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Allegro gentile

Victoria, Cecilia and Joaquin Rodrigo with Regino Sáinz de la Maza.

*Courtesy of the Victoria and Joaquin Rodrigo Foundation

Regino Sáinz de la Maza

¡Guitarra! A Musical Journey Through Spain ( film series 1985)
Recorded: 1984
Location: St. John's Smith Square, London, England
Instrument: Guitar-José Romanillos, 1973
Guitarist: Julian Bream
Conductor: Sir Charles Groves
Orchestra: Chamber Orchestra of Europe
English Horn Solo:
Producer: James Burnett. Recording Engineer: John W. Bower
Label: RM Arts, A Third Eye Blind Production for RM Arts and Channel 4 TV.
Released: 1985
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 1  Allegro con spirito  
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Adagio
Concierto de Aranjuez, No. 2  Allegro gentile 

Julian Bream recordings of the "Concierto de Aranjuez"

Narciso Yepes