4 of the Most Inspirational Classical Guitar Players In The World
by Jules Fitzgerald, guitarist and blogger at knowyourinstrument.com
Having musicians to look up to does a lot in inspiring and motivating you to practice and become a better musician yourself. Those who play acoustic or electric guitar have no shortage of artists to idolize or emulate. From solo artists to rock and metal bands, guitar players can take their pick of their favorites.
But how about those who play classical guitar? There aren’t that many classical guitar players in the mainstream, but those who do make their way from obscurity to fame have earned the profound respect of musicians around the world.
We’re here to take a look at some of the most remarkable musicians who have inspired and continue to inspire musicians young and old to play classical guitar.
Francisco Tarrega is recognized in music history as the man who laid the modern - that is, 20th century - foundations for classical guitar. In doing so, he also increased interest in the instrument. Tarrega was a true virtuoso and he not only transcribed more than a hundred musical pieces for classical guitar, he also composed his own.
Even if you haven’t heard of Tarrega before, you’ve probably heard his work - a well-known cellphone manufacturer based one of its ringtones on Tarrega’s 1902 composition “Gran Vals” - which, interestingly, is inspired by Frederic Chopin’s “Grande Valse.” Give it a listen and you’ll surely be able to identify what company it is.
No classical guitarist of today would be able to progress through music studies without knowing the name Andrés Segovia. Regarded as one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Segovia achieved fame as a teen after he developed his own playing technique, which involved plucking the guitar strings with both his fingernails and fingertips, giving him a unique style and tone.
Through Segovia, the classical guitar was elevated to a truly professional, classical instrument like the violin, not just one you use for playing folk and flamenco music.
As a child, Julian Bream was inspired to play classical guitar by listening to his father, a jazz musician, and other jazz artists such as Django Reinhardt. He received his own guitar on his 11th birthday and from then on made quick progress. He studied at the Royal College of Music where he achieved total mastery of the instrument. Bream became a champion of classical music, reviving interest in the Elizabethan lute and triggering musicians of the day such as Richard Rodney Bennett to write original songs for classical guitar.
Not to be confused with John Williams the film composer, John Williams the guitarist has also made a great influence over many musicians today. Williams learned to play from his father then went on to attend summer courses. He was able to study with Segovia at an early age. Williams also performed duets with Bream, sharing their music in the albums Together (AKA Julian & John, 1972) and Together Again (AKA Julian & John 2, 1974).
Williams is renowned for his flawless playing technique showing outstanding articulation and pinpoint accuracy. One of his biggest hits is his rendition of “Cavatina” by Stanley Myers.
No doubt these well-respected musicians have influenced many others to take up classical guitar. Miloš Karadagli?, born in 1983 and considered to be his generation’s foremost torchbearer of classical guitar music, has said that he was inspired by the example of Segovia. We hope you become inspired and motibated too!
Copyright François Faucher 1998-2023