When composing music, I often have the feeling that all that is beautiful, which indeed the spirit is, will remain in time.
In heaven we will all be sounds.
For those of us who are dedicated to creativity, it would be particularly bitter to admit that everything finishes with death.
The life of a musician is very difficult, as art in itself is difficult. But when he truly feels his vocacion, to be a musician is beautiful, or better yet, divine. He must be, above all, authentic and loyal to himself.
Music is my dream, my enchantment, my joy. I am captivated by music and would define it as the world's highest form of poetry .
The composer hears the tone color of each instrument in his head. That is his musical gift. You must hear it. It’s like love.
In 1939, standing there in my small studio on rue Saint Jacques in the heart of the Latin quarter, vaguely thinking about the concerto, I heard a voice inside me sing the entire theme of the adagio all at once, without hesitation. And immediately afterwards, without a break, the theme of the third movement. I realized quickly that the work was done. Our intuition does not deceive us in these things. If the adagio and the allegro were born of an irrestible and supernatural inspiration, I arrived to the first movement after some thought, calculation and determination. It was the last movement I composed; I finished the work where I should have started it.
(In Paris, winter and spring of 1939)
There is nothing more shadowy or more hidden in mystery than the process of musical creation.
For me the greatest virtue of an artist is not related directly to the art he practices, in this case music, but is inherent in all the arts, as it is in morality and philosophy. This virtue is faith. I believe that without faith in the art which is cultivated, and without fath in oneself, our artistic images will be false and will therefore lack character, which is what in the final analysis has a permanent value.
Testimonials of celebrities of the music world.
Manuel de Falla. Composer.
“I thank the Lord for having in you a friend whose heart is of the same rare and fine quality as his art.”
Sir Neville Marriner. Orchestra conductor.
“On reading Joaquín Rodrigo’s reflections on his own works, I feel somewhat more reassured in some of the decisions I have taken when interpreting
what the composer wanted to transmit. Performing his music has led me to understand Rodrigo, the composer. And now I perceive Rodrigo, the man.”
Plácido Domingo. Tenor.
“The Spanish composer most recognized today throughout the world. Concierto de Aranjuez remains the best known of his works, but there are other extraordinary ones for different instruments, whether it be the guitar, or certainly the harp or for voice. All that he wrote is extraordinary.
Let me express the great affection and love that we felt and continue to feel for the Maestro and the great admiration that he awakens around the world.”
Xavier Montsalvage. Composer.
“Joaquín Rodrigo figures among those composers who have obtained a success that is so overwhelming it has overshadowed and has undermined the dissemination of the rest of his production. As we are all aware, this is the very famous Concierto de Aranjuez, whose premiere I had the luck to attend, and which undoubtedly deserves its boom, but which holds values that are not exclusive to this emblematic score.”
Montserrat Caballé. Soprano.
“Eternal legacy. The music of Rodrigo is creative, innovative, profound, as much in its Spanish facet as in its medieval aspect. Personally I am very grateful. He was a genius who left a unique heritage.”
Narciso Yepes. Guitarist.
“Joaquín Rodrigo is one of the pillars of the Spanish music of the 20th century. He is an admired and respected composer on the five continents, which as a Spaniard, fills me with pride.”
Victoria de los Ángeles. Soprano.
“Joaquín Rodrigo is a monument of the music of Spain. He deserves so many things. The prizes and the medals in themselves are nothing, and yet they are many things. I have all the affection and admiration for him in the world. I consider him a monument of Spanish music, a unique man who left his mark on a whole period. I also admire him greatly as a person. He has lived his life in an extraordinary manner. He overcame his small handicap and was gifted in music. His works are very personal. They are recognized immediately on hearing them. He is outstanding for his personal and unmistakable style.”
Cristóbal Halffter. Composer and orchestra conductor.
“With his example, he showed us in postwar Madrid, characterized by a total provincialism of the lowest form, that it was possible to imagine and make music that would fly high, and that we too one day could be composers and try to create music that was superior without having to emigrate or take a vow of poverty. What is most important is the profound respect and admiration which the process he used to compose his works produced in me. Only he who knows the difficulty in reflecting music graphically on a score, and the difficulty in imagining a sound or group of sounds that are developed in time and transferring them to a visible score can comprehend the enormous complexity of this task when it is undertaken by a person who cannot see how it sounds, or what came previously or what will happen later in a work. To carry out this job without being able to materialize it in
a graphic manner is a gigantic task which only someone gifted with exceptional talent such as Joaquín Rodrigo is capable of performing.
It is not only creation that is difficult, but making it possible for a performer to interpret that creation and bring it to life before an audience. Well, I began to write about a friend, a colleague, one who is loved and admired and I realize I am writing about a man who has entered history.”
Walter Clark. Musicologist and Director of the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music at the University of California at Riverside.
“What is the reason for this book? Why now? The majority of the biographies found on Rodrigo were written for the general public and as a consequence do not offer a profound study of his music. For this reason, one of the main goals of this biography is, for the first time in history, to focus great attention on the originality, variety and the depth of the music of Rodrigo.”
Yehudi Menuhin. Violinist.
“It is wonderful to think that the Spanish will long be reminded of their character, their qualities of thought, of feelings and being, through the music of Joaquín Rodrigo.”
Words on Rodrigo in international press.
“Spanish dance, Spanish poetry, the forms of older Spanish composers all found their place in Rodrigo’s output. And, for all the popularity of the Concierto de Aranjuez, if works like the exquisitely beautiful Música para un códice salmantino, (a setting of a poem called “Ode to Salamanca” 1953), a cantata for bass, chorus and eleven instruments, or the extraordinarily stark Himnos de los neófitos de Qumrán (1965-74), for three sopranos and chamber orchestra, to texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls were better known, the popular image of the lightweight, folky composer, on whom more “serious” connoisseurs rather look down their noses, would have to be drastically revised. Rodrigo’s art may well have been modest in its outward expression, but in addition to its delicate sweetness it also contained the epic and the profound.”
“The Thursday Review”, The Independent , London, 8 July 1999, by Martin Anderson.
...Rodrig did not lack detractors. "He knew the tendencies of the avant-garde, but he followed his own path, knowing that he was criticized and sometimes even vituperated in Spain and abroad by high-flying musicologists who maintained that music which seems easy to the ear is 'easy music'", Cecilia Rodrigo said.
...Rodrigo’s attention to children’s music is not surprising. A devoted family man, he woke his daughter and grandchildren seven days a week playing Bach preludes.
...As, with his death, we contemplate his output, Rodrigo appears to merit serious consideration as one of the greatest Spanish composers of the 20th century. The proof is in the playing and the listening. Let us take off from those aromatic gardens of Aranjuez and fly over the distant lands of his imagination.
...Wherever you are, Maestro, here is a toast: May you be smiling and drinking from a small cup of your own.
Article by Pablo Zinger, The New York Times, Sunday, August 29, 1999
"Deep inside Joaquín Rodrigo, there was a man from the Golden Age, Spanish to the core. His personality and figure always reminded me of one of those plebeian noblemen that Velazquez, Ribera or Murillo liked to paint. He was shrewd, rapid, and witty in the same way as many of Cervantes ' characters. Traits of the protagonists of picaresque novels, that most hispanic of genres, seem to hover throughout certain Rodrigo passages. Isn’t there something of the bittersweet tenderness, the ancestral wisdom, the slightly soured skepticism, the sly roguishness of Lázaro, Rinconete or Estebanillo in Rodrigo’s works? Perhaps for that reason, his music is light but not commonplace, it is full of joy and at the same time full of melancholy, it is fresh but not ingenuous… Perhaps for that reason, the most immortal of his immortal music goes hand in hand with the most deeply rooted Spanish traditions: the guitar of Gaspar Sanz, the madrigal, the villancico (Spanish Christmas carol) or the poetry of Saint John of the Cross."
From the article “En busca del más allá” by Alvaro Marías, published in the Spanish newspaper ABC, Madrid, July 7, 1999
"Was Rodrigo the composer of just one work? Certainly not. Even if he had never composed his concerto, which was to earn him the title of nobility “Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez”, he would have taken his place in the history of Spanish music… His Concierto serenata for harp and orchestra, En busca del más allá, the work that was commissioned by NASA, are more than sufficient proof of great talent, although a talent which may not be to the liking of everyone. His preference for forms rooted in popular tradition, not to be confused with the commonplace, led to clashes with avant-garde circles. And, in all truth, led also to jealousy on the part of many frustrated avant-garde circles. "
Editorial: “En busca del más allá”. From the article published in the Opinion section of Diario 16, Madrid July 7, 1999.
"Curiously, some of the works both the composer and his critics have considered his best remain unrecorded: Ausencias de Dulcinea (“Dulcinea’s Faithful Wait”) on texts from Cervantes’s “Don Quixote“, Cántico de San Francisco de Asis (1982), on texts by St. Francis of Assissi, one of Rodrigo’s last works. As, with his death, we contemplate his output, Rodrigo appears to merit serious consideration as one of the greatest Spanish composers of the 20th century."
From the article published in The New York Times, by Pablo Zinger, August 29, 1999.
“The success of Concierto de Aranjuez has somehow eclipsed Rodrigo’s other works. They need to be brought out and rediscovered, and Rodrigo should not be considered the author of only one work because the future will undoubtedly reveal other treasures to us.”
Julian Bream wrote for the French musical magazine Classic FM, in september 1999
“Spanish dance, Spanish poetry, the forms of older Spanish composers all found their place in Rodrigo’s output. And, for all the popularity of the Concierto de Aranjuez, the best of that output is still unknown, works like the exquisitely beautiful Música para un códice salmantino, (a setting of a poem called “Ode to Salamanca” 1953), a cantata for bass, chorus and eleven instruments, or the extraordinarily stark Himnos de los neófitos de Qumran (1965-74), for three sopranos and chamber orchestra, to texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls. If such pieces were better known, the popular image of the lightweight, folky composer, on whom more “serious” connoisseurs rather look down their noses, would have to be drastically revised. Rodrigo’s art may well have been modest in its outward expression, but in addition to its delicate sweetness it also contained the epic and the profound.”
“The Thursday Review”, The Independent , London, 8 July 1999, by Martin Anderson.
"Rodrigo had the wisdom to adhere strictly to the dictates of his talent. “My cup may be small, but I drink from my own cup” he would respond to criticism from supposedly more advanced professors, with the ironic smile of the lucid blind man. And it was that urge for authenticity and that determination, happily protected from the passing currents that at one time or another dazzled the century, which have maintained his music alive, familiar and beloved. Perhaps the time has now arrived for his music to be valued and performed. Purism, which on occasion has been scornful of this rich and imaginative body of work that reaches far beyond Concierto de Aranjuez, collides head-on with the unanimous devotion of music lovers the world over, who accord that piece and other works by the Maestro a welcome that is the envy of theorists upholding serialism, dodecaphonism and other avant-garde movements which the public doesn’t like and won’t listen to in concert halls. One of Rodrigo’s major contributions is to have popularized classical music, which reached the level of sublime art in the strumming of Yepes and Segovia."
From the article "Adiós al gentilhombre", July 7, 1999 in the Opinion section, ABC, Madrid.