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Basilio Marin Ferrer is awarded a prize for a guitar he fabricated in 1908 and gifts it to the King of Spain

Arturo Santos performs on the guitar, after his return from the United States

by: Randy Osborne - Published 09/28/2023 4:46 PM

In my "Annotations for the History of the Classical Guitar in Argentina 1822-2000" book on page 119, is the inclusion of the guitarist, Arturo Santos, because he played Tarrega pieces in a concert in New York City on May 3, 1908 in the United States, some 15 months before Francisco Tarrega passed away. Domingo Prat played his first concert in Buenos Aires just 4 days later on May 7, 1908, also playing Tarrega pieces.


Upon returning to Spain, Arturo Santos was in Zaragoza and met Basilio Marin Ferrer, the guitar maker, who was active from 1890 to July 2, 1926 as he was listed in the trade guides. 


Arturo Santos in the period from 1906-1913 performed in theaters, such as the Salon Madrid, where he performed daily for long stretches of time beginning at 5:30PM, where the variety show included, silent movies ex. "Caballeria Italiana", trained dog acts, risque dancers and Spanish folk dancers, such as "La Argentinita" as well.  


At the Trianon Palace in Madrid he backed up singers, and played solos in between acrobats. The numerous daily newspapers of Madrid would list the acts on the bill besides his accomplishments for having conquered America in his New World tour. His version of "La Boheme" was an outstanding piece that was mentioned at times in publications.


At times he lived at calle Aben Aire 46, Zaragoza, other times at calle Ave Maria, 12, Madrid.


In the press he was called a celebrated artist who was capable of playing all styles of music, Classical, Flamenco and Popular. He performed from Bilbao to Seville, and in Portugal.


In the monthly magazine "Eco Artistico" of October 5, 1914, it says he obtained four 1st prizes in contests amongst guitarists held in different localities.


In the "Revista de varietes" on October 30, 1914, it states he was performing in Lisbon, Portugal at the "Colyseu dos Recreios", in which there were even clowns in the wide ranging bill of six artists. In the "Revista de varietes" on November 10, 1914, it now says he is with 8 acts at the Grande Salao Foz. In the monthly magazine "Eco Artistico" of November 15, 1914, he was still at the Grande Salao Foz. Meanwhile, at his previous location, at the "Colyseu dos Recreios", there was even an act of trained crocodiles.


In the dailies "El Heraldo de Madrid", "El Imparcial" and the "El Liberal" on October 5, 1916 he is shown to be at the Romea Theater in Madrid accompanying silent movies amongst seven other acts.


In the monthly magazine "Eco Artistico" of August 15, 1916, it mentions he is back home in Zaragoza at the Teatro Circo, in a farewell performance with four acts. In the monthly magazine "Eco Artistico" of June 25, 1917 it says: "Arturo Santos debuted at the Novelty, a concert guitarist who, like Preciosilla, had to announce himself as coming from the Romea Theater in Madrid, where he was not liked. Here you hear him, and nothing more." This appears to be the last of 87 notices of performances we can document from the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid.


In Buenos Aires guitarist Agustin Barrios found himself in the same environment as well accompanying silent movies from 1910 onward until he recorded 34 songs for Atlantic / Artigas records in 1913-1914 period.


Photo Caption Translations:

Basilio Marin Ferrer, a guitarist, who also makes guitars, has given the King of Spain, a guitar that earned an award at the Spanish-French Exposition in Zaragoza.


The notable guitarist, Arturo Santos,  who along with Mr. Marin Ferrer, has delivered a guitar to the King of Spain, which won an award in Zaragoza, and had given a concert for the Royal Family before that.


Shown below is Basilio Marin Ferrer with the guitar that won the award that was given to King Alfonso XIII of Spain. Credit is given to the great grandchildren of the guitar maker: Miguel and Luisa Matute.




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