A Light in the Darkness: The Music and Life of Joaquín Rodrigo

Norton. Apr. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9781324004455. $39.99. MUSIC
Musicologists Suárez-Pajares (Complutense Univ. of Madrid; Iconografía) and Clark (Univ. of California, Riverside; coauthor, Federico Moreno Torroba) present a biography of Joaquín Rodrigo (1901–99), a composer and pianist most known for creating Concierto de Aranjuez for classical guitar and orchestra. The popular Concierto was one of the first to feature the intimate guitar symphonically; however, he sometimes considered that its fame overshadowed much of the rest of his prolific output. An illness at age three left him sight-impaired, which he believed enhanced his aurality. He composed in Braille and led an active life, often leaving his beloved Valencia to study in Paris and to perform abroad. He deftly survived the cultural gloom of Franco’s Spain, countering conservatism when he could (in music as well as in politics), and influencing artists around the world, including Miles Davis and Chick Corea. His wife, Victoria Kamhi, a Turkish pianist, remained his artistic companion from their marriage in 1933 until her death in 1997.
VERDICT This exhaustive, annotated treatment about Rodrigo’s work is best for musicologists, although cultural historians will find it helpful.
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