Joaquín Rodrigo

Since Joaquín Rodrigo's compositions raised the Spanish guitar to a new level as a featured classical concert instrument,Con-Rodrigo-150 and his music stands as a lasting tribute to the diversity of Spanish culture, it’s entirely fitting that he was born on November 22, 1901, the day dedicated to St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music.

Born in Sagunto, Valencia near the Mediterranean coast of Spain, Joaquín Rodrigo lost most of his sight when he was three years old due to complications from diphtheria. Later, glaucoma blinded him completely; however, to Rodrigo blindness was not a disability. He believed his lack of vision led him to become a musician and composer.

Rodrigo’s best known work is the spell-binding “Concierto de Aranjuez,” written for classical guitar and orchestra. Even though he was a virtuoso pianist, Rodrigo never mastered the guitar, yet his majestic, poignant composition has become one of the most popular guitar concertos in classical music.

In three sensual movements the “Concierto de Aranjuez,” paints a musical portrait inspired by the gardens at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, a resort built by Phillip II in the last half of the 16th century. Rodrigo described his concerto as capturing, “the fragrance of the magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing water of the fountains.” Through his music, Rodrigo’s imaginary vision of the gardens recreates senses the blind composer could appreciate and they transport his listener to another time and place.

Appropriately, in 1991 King Juan Carlos I gave Joaquín Rodrigo the title of “Marquess of the Gardens of Aranjuez”. Rodrigo died in 1999 at his home in Madrid at the age of 97.