Not long ago we posted a beautiful scene featuring the legendary guitarist Andrés Segovia playing Johann Sebastian Bach at the Alhambra, the storied 14th century Moorish palace in Granada, Spain. Today we’re pleased to bring you the entire 50-minute film from which it came, Andrés Segovia: The Song of the Guitar.
The documentary was made in 1976 by the South African-born filmmaker Christopher Nupen. Segovia was 84 years old at the time. When he was a child living in Granada, Segovia loved to bring his guitar to the Alhambra and play for friends. “It was here,” he says in the film, “that I opened my eyes to the beauty of nature and art. To be here is to feel oneself to be near, very near, paradise.” Segovia is often described as the father of modern classical guitar. In the liner notes to the film, which is available on DVD along with another film on Segovia by Nupen, it says:
As an instrumentalist, Segovia did for the guitar what Casals did for the cello, but he did it with an instrument that had never before been taken seriously as a concert instrument. Within his own lifetime, Segovia taught himself the instrument, revolutionised the technique and elevated a folk instrument to the highest levels of the international concert platform. As a musician, he has come to be recognised as one of the most refined and profound of his time.
In the film, Segovia reminisces about his early days in Grenada and his happy discovery of the guitar. He plays ten pieces, all beautifully filmed in the courtyards of the Alhambra:
- “Capricho Catalán” by Isaac Albéniz
- “La Maja de Goya” by Enrique Granados
- “Torre Bermeja” by Isaac Albéniz
- “Sonata in E Minor” by Domenico Scarlatti
- “Minuet” by Jean-Philippe Rameau
- “Minuet” by Fernando Sor
- “Ballet and Allegretto” by Manuel Ponce
- “Gavotte I & II” by Johann Sebastian Bach
- “Leyenda” by Isaac Albéniz
- “El Noi de la Mare” a Catalan folk song