The Extraordinary Music of Joaquín Rodrigo

Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)

Joaquín Rodrigo was born in Sagunto, Valencia, Spain on November 22, 1901. At the age of three, a diphtheria epidemic ravaged his community and he was not spared. His eyes were damaged and he soon lost his eyesight. Despite his blindness, he went on to become Spain’s greatest composer of the 20th century. After immersing myself in his music for the past several weeks, this avid music listener would like to suggest that Joaquín Rodrigo was one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. I believe his acclaim has not yet reached its peak, and that many of his works that to the present day have seldom been played will soon become part of the standard repertory.

Rodrigo is primarily known for his wonderful guitar concertos: Concierto de Aranjuez (1939), Fantasía para un gentilhombre (1954), Concierto Madrigal (1966), and Concierto Andaluz (1967), but have you heard his purely orchestral work A la busca del más allá (In search of the beyond)? Or his piano version of Zarabanda lejana?

There is no better introduction to the music of Joaquín Rodrigo than the four-CD set from EMI Classics, The Rodrigo Edition. One of the foremost interpreters of Rodrigo, Mexican conductor Enrique Bátiz skillfully conducts the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in these completely satisfying performances.

EMI Classics CZS 7 67435 2
EMI Classics CZS 7 67435 2

Joaquín Rodrigo died in 1999 at the age of 97. When he was 90, a loving and insightful documentary was produced, titled Shadows and Light. Please seek it out! It is well produced and inspiring. You can view this documentary on (much of it is in English, but for the parts that aren’t you have the option to select English subtitles), or purchase the DVD through Amazon.

3 thoughts on “The Extraordinary Music of Joaquín Rodrigo”

  1. Gracias Joaquin Rodrigo por tu inspiracion y dejar un gran legado musical a España y el mundo!!!!!
    A un dia de su cumpleaños!!!

    1. ¡Gracias, Ana! Hoy celebramos el 121 aniversario del nacimiento de Joaquín Rodrigo. Ya han pasado 23 años desde que nos dejó.

      Here are my favorite pieces by Joaquín Rodrigo:

      • À l’ombre de Torre Bermeja (In the Shadow of the Crimson Tower), for piano
      • A la busca del más allá (In search of the beyond)
      • Atardecer (Dusk), for piano four hands
      • Cinco piezas infantiles (Five children’s pieces) [both the two-piano and orchestral versions]
      • Concierto Andaluz, for Four Guitars and Orchestra
      • Concierto de Aranjuez, for Guitar and Orchestra
      • Concierto Madrigal, for Two Guitars and Orchestra
      • Fantasía para un gentilhombre, for Guitar and Orchestra
      • Gran Marcha de los Subsecretarios (Grand March of the Subsecretaries), for piano four hands
      • Sonatina para dos Muñecas (Sonatina for two Puppets), for piano four hands
      • Zarabanda lejana (Distant Sarabande), for piano


      • Pastoral (No. 4) and Passepied (No. 5) from Soleriana
      • Pavana (Enriquez de Valderrábano) [No. 4] & Fantasía que contrahace la harpa de Ludovico (Alonso Mudarra) [No. 5] from Cinco piezas del siglo XVI, for piano
      • Plegaria de la Infanta de Castilla (Prayer of the Princess of Castile), from Cuatro piezas para piano
      • Sicilienne (Andantino) [2nd movement] from Concierto de estío, for violin and orchestra

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