CLASSICAL GUITAR

Spanish guitar maestro who invented footstool wrote the Nokia tune

Alhambra Granada Palace, Spain
Alhambra Granada Palace, Spain

Spanish maestro Francisco Tárrega had a colossal influence on the guitar development—in terms of both technical innovations and composition—that spanned over two centuries. 

While his output as a composer was humble, with just over 70 original scores, Tárrega was the first great guitar arranger, transcribing works of Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Chopin, Grieg, Handel, Schumann, Albéniz and many more.

In some ways, Tárrega's music complements Isaac Albeniz's piano works, in their blend of classical techniques with Spanish folk connotation. This harmony makes complete sense, since the two of them were close friends, having met during Tárrega's time in Barcelona.

Besides knowing quite possibly every famed Spanish musician of his time, Tárrega assisted greatly in the development of the new guitar shape while working with the Spanish luthier Antonio de Torres. This design is still today's standard for the classical guitar.

However, when the new shape was just popularized, Tárrega had to establish and subsequently teach the new methods of playing the instrument which included the most practical way of holding the Torres-designed guitar using a footstool to raise the left leg.

But for the modern public it was one particular thing that made Tárrega famous without actually making him famous: his composition Gran Vals. One single fragment from the piece gained worldwide recognition after the Nokia company used it for the Nokia tune in 1992.

Here is Gran Vals performed by David Russell:

The Nokia tune resurfaced his name, sure, but only as a fun trivia fact as far as the general audience is concerned. As sad as it may be, among classic guitar enthusiasts Tárrega has been known and praised for a long time, particularly for his most famous work, Recuerdos de la Alhambra, which he composed for his fellow composer friend Alfred Cottin while on his travels in Granada.

Recuerdos de la Alhambra performed by  Julian Bream

 

Share this story
you may also like
  • The History of Popular Music

    Discover stories from each decade. Listen to gems from the 1960s, 1970s, and more.
  • Early Music

    Read all about the formative music of the past centuries. Enjoy the regal yet easy sounds of the Baroque and Renaissance.
  • Indian Classical Music

    Dive into the South Asian philosophy through Indian classical music. Learn about musical traditions of the Hindustani and Carnatic culture.
  • The Epoch of Romanticism

    Get a taste of the most beloved and fruitful music period. See the personalities behind the major shift of the eras — from Classical to Romantic.