Narciso Yepes was one of the finest virtuoso classical guitarists of the twentieth century, generally ranked second after Andrés Segovia. Despite a strong interest in music from the Baroque period, his overwhelming preference was for the serious compositions of Spanish composers from the early twentieth century, though he also showed interest in flamenco music. He displayed a special fondness for the works of Joaquín Rodrigo and was instrumental in the rediscovery of many previously neglected Baroque compositions. He also achieved distinction as a composer, especially in the realm of film music.
Narciso Yepes was born in the small town of Marchena, Spain, located near Lorca. He showed musical talent in his pre-school years, prompting his peasant father to give him his first guitar when he was only four. He soon played with great proficiency and his father arranged for young Narciso to take lessons in guitar and solfeggio in Lorca from Jesús Guevara. Yepes enrolled at the Valencia Conservatory at age 13 and was instructed (though not in guitar) by composer/pianist Vicente Asencio. He gave his first public performance in Valencia at the Teatro Serrano, then returned with his family to Lorca. There he played for Ataulfo Argenta, conductor of the Spanish National Orchestra, who was so impressed by his skills that he convinced Yepes to travel to Madrid to launch his career. There, the young guitarist met some of the most influential musicians in the country, including Joaquín Rodrigo, who had completed his guitar masterpiece, the Concierto de Aranjuez, several years earlier.
Yepes found the work most attractive and decided to play it for his official concert debut in 1947, for which he was partnered with Argenta, who led the Orquesta de Cámara. His further performances of the work during the early years of his career are now seen as crucial to the current popularity of the Rodrigo concerto. Yepes’ concerts were well-received and he quickly became one of the most highly regarded guitarists in Spain. He gave a successful tour of Europe in 1948 — with notable success in Geneva, Switzerland — then two years later relocated to Paris for further study with George Enescu and Walter Gieseking. He also spent time with Nadia Boulanger, though apparently never became a student. Yepes wrote and performed the music for the 1952 film Jeux interdits, which garnered awards at Cannes, Venice, and Hollywood. Yepes met his wife — who was of Polish origin — in Paris, and they were married in 1958.
Their union produced three children, one of whom, Ignacio, became a conductor, and another, Ana, a choreographer with the Paris Opera. In the 1960s, Yepes was especially active as both a guitar soloist and composer. He achieved acclaim for his score of the 1961 film La fille aux yeux d’or. In 1964, Yepes developed and thereafter played a ten-string guitar, which he asserted was superior to the six-stringed guitar especially in the realm of the transcription. In the 1970s and 1980s, Yepes remained active in all facets of his career, but made fewer concert appearances. He received many awards during this period, including an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Murcia, and various artistic, radio, and television citations.
In 1980, he made his highly praised recording of the Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by García Navarro. In 1993, Yepes was forced to sharply curtail his concert activity owing to his declining health. He gave his final concert in Santander, Spain, in 1996. (by Robert Cummings)
Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (Naples, 26 October 1685 – Madrid, 23 July 1757) was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified primarily as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style and he was one of the few Baroque composers to transition into the classical period. Like his renowned father Alessandro Scarlatti, he composed in a variety of musical forms, although today he is known mainly for his 555 keyboard sonatas.
Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples, Kingdom of Naples, belonging to the Spanish Crown, in 1685, the same year as Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel. He was the sixth of ten children of the composer and teacher Alessandro Scarlatti and his older brother Pietro Filippo was also a musician.
He probably first studied music under his father. Other composers who may have been his early teachers include Gaetano Greco, Francesco Gasparini, and Bernardo Pasquini, all of whom may have influenced his musical style. He was appointed as composer and organist at the royal chapel in Naples in 1701. In 1703, he revised Carlo Francesco Pollarolo’s opera Irene for performance at Naples. Soon afterwards, his father sent him to Venice. After this, nothing is known of Scarlatti’s life until 1709, when he went to Rome and entered the service of the exiled Polish queen Marie Casimire. It was in Rome that he met Thomas Roseingrave. Scarlatti was already an accomplished harpsichordist: there is a story of a trial of skill with George Frideric Handel at the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni in Rome where he was judged possibly superior to Handel on the harpsichord, although inferior on the organ. Later in life, Scarlatti was known to cross himself in veneration when speaking of Handel’s skill. While in Rome, Scarlatti composed several operas for Queen Casimire’s private theatre. He was Maestro di Cappella at St. Peter’s from 1715 to 1719. In 1719 he travelled to London to direct his opera Narciso at the King’s Theatre.
Detail of a painting by Gaspare Traversi, showing Scarlatti tutoring Princess Barbara of Portugal
According to Vicente Bicchi, Papal Nuncio in Portugal at the time, Domenico Scarlatti arrived in Lisbon on 29 November 1719. There he taught music to the Portuguese princess Maria Magdalena Barbara. He left Lisbon on 28 January 1727 for Rome, where he married Maria Caterina Gentili on 6 May 1728. In 1729 he moved to Seville, staying for four years. In 1733 he went to Madrid as music master to Princess Maria Barbara, who had married into the Spanish royal house. The Princess later became Queen of Spain. Scarlatti remained in the country for the remaining twenty-five years of his life, and had five children there. After the death of his first wife in 1742, he married a Spaniard, Anastasia Maxarti Ximenes. Among his compositions during his time in Madrid were a number of the 555 keyboard sonatas for which he is best known.
Scarlatti befriended the castrato singer Farinelli, a fellow Neapolitan also enjoying royal patronage in Madrid. The musicologist and harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick commented that Farinelli’s correspondence provides “most of the direct information about Scarlatti that has transmitted itself to our day”. Domenico Scarlatti died in Madrid, at the age of 71. His residence on Calle Leganitos is designated with a historical plaque, and his descendants still live in Madrid. He was buried at a convent there, in Madrid, but his grave no longer exists. (by wikipedia)
And here´s another very fine album recorded by the great Narciso Yepes, playing music by a master of his time, Domenico Scarlatti:
Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas are often described as “guitaristic,” but few recorded guitar performances back up this claim. In Yepes’s performance, they sound “natural and flowing, as if they had been composed for the guitar in the first place.” Those are Yepes’s words, and no better support could be found than K 446, titled “Pastorale.” All other performers, including Pletnev, play this work in an other-worldly fashion, but Yepes makes it glow through instrumental color and a non-draggy tempo. Other gems on this album include K 474, a worthy companion to the Valenti recording, and K 377. (by Eloi)
Narciso Yepes (guitar)
01. Sonata K.146 3.22
02. Sonata K.34 Larghetto 3.41
03. Sonata K. 238 Andante 3.12
04. Sonata K.42 Minuetto 1.33
05. Sonata K.474 Andante e cantabile 6.07
06. Sonata K.32 Aria 2.15
07. Sonata K.322 Allegro 3.00
08. Sonata K.77 Moderato e cantabile 8.03
09. Sonata K. 283 Andante allegro 4.59
10. Sonata K.64 Gavotte 2.29
11. Sonata K.446 Pastorale 4.52
12. Sonata K.377 Allegrissimo 3.23