"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue

Joaquin Rodrigo

06 Apr 2002

I was a bit surprised to find three different recordings of Rodrigo's Concierto De Aranjuez in my collection. There's one by John Williams (guitar), another by Miles Davis (pump organ), and a third just out of reach so I can't tell you who performed it. The Williams performance is playing as I write this.

Describing the Concierto is a bit of a poser for a proser such as myself. If you don't know who Rodrigo is, and you were around in the late 70's or early 80's, try this: Do your best impersonation of Ricardo Montalban saying "Rich Corinthian leather" with some fabulous Spanish music in the background. Now let Ricardo go -- the music you imagined was probably Rodrigo. And it was probably Concierto De Aranjuez, a piece which inspires in me thoughts of grandeur, power, and the flourish that is the Spain of my imagination.

For the pedantically minded, it's classical music written for guitar and orchestra. There are three movements lasting about 20 minutes. While accurate, that's a bit like describing your favourite painting as a piece of canvas so wide by so high. Better to say it is like the sound of fall leaves crunching underfoot, or the heat of steam from a bowl of soup. While you're at it, you might try dancing about architecture.

Rodrigo died July 7, 1999 in Spain. He was 97.

Related Sites

The BBC Obituary (Has a sound clip)