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The Excellence of Tarrega

From "El Liberal" in Madrid December 26, 1909

by: Randy Osborne - Published 10/31/2023 1:52 PM

Yesterday I learned that Francisco Garcia Sanchiz, three years after the passing of Tarrega, he had already written the lecture, which is published in the newspaper "El Liberal" that I found three days ago, and he would do that as the opening address before Daniel Fortea’s performance at the Ateneo of Madrid in March of 1912, three decades later, Ricardo Munoz, in Buenos Aires, was doing the same thing speaking about Miguel Llobet after his passing opening with a lecture that was interspersed by the performance of Celia Salomon de Font.

Original text: Castellaño texto al fin de esta pagina.

THE EXCELLENCE OF TÁRREGA by Federico Garcia Sanchiz

A man has just died in silence

divine. He was a musician, romantic, good, candid,

unhappy. His name was Francisco Tárrega, the guitarist Tárrega

Some, a few, newspapers and magazines publish

the portrait of him. There you can see him with

his hair wrapping his voluminous head like a turban, with his thick glasses, behind which some eyelids fall asleep

scalded, with its wide knob

like a beard from the Assyrian reliefs, with

the usual fervent disposition

the white hands placed in the box

the guitar, just like for a sacrifice;

the foreshortening all manifesting demure softness,

anointing, delight of gracious beauty,

perhaps gallant, and in the same photograph,

that he will present to you blessed and venerable,

like the altar to his image, you will find

a sample of his candor and his picturesqueness,

slow and constant martyrdom. Because

you blessed of the portrait painter it did not occur to him

but to sit Tárrega on a stool

of cane from the Indies, next to a table

of the same thing, only the wicker boards

a nightstand of those that are not understood

without the rag flower pot,

the ashtray with an imitated porcelain cigar,

and that constitute the central decoration

from any barbaric and evil platform

taste. The photographer committed a

irreverence forcing Tárrega to pose

where a tavern keeper would sponge off his 

Sunday best, a wedding in the square.

And, thanks to the winnings and

to the widespread popularity of the guitar,

instrument that shares the praise of

a hobby of bullfighters, many rough ones

and left-handed people approach him

supreme spirit of elegance and exquisiteness,

and although he noticed it well, he resigned himself

he and he cared for them, and he suffered persecution

of the slimy fulfillment of him Brother

wolf, sister ant, said Saint Francis

of Assisi.

But Tárrega was not a guitarist.

Francisco de Tárrega was a poet in love

of music, a madrigal poet,

serenades, evocations and contemplations.

He could compose verses like Garcilaso,

compete with Sarasate on the violin,

Sarasate who, with his pride, admired him;

he could run the world as a virtuoso pianist,

or hugged a cello that would have a

famous fact. He preferred the guitar

although he did not belong to the admitted

instrumental aristocracy—he preferred, the

guitar for more sensual, transparent and

endearing and here, in Spain, with the prejudice

of a grocery store that we have of the guitar,

without remembering those petrimeters

that with guitars lulled the last

days of the 18th century, we did not listen to him,

We don't want to hear him but in England we often do

The lords entertained Tarrega,

and in Italy the poets celebrated perfumed

and celebrate them with flowers in honor of the

guitarist of the serenades, the minuets,

of kindnesses.

You understand how intimate and pure it would be

the refinement of a very elevated musician,

that for refinement he chooses a popular instrument.

There, in Levante, on the coast

parallel to the Italian, adorned shores

of the most beautiful sea, I felt it many times

times. Tárrega lived in Barcelona.

He frequently, at times, forced by

the need, he went to Valencia, he gave concerts.

He returned to Barcelona with some

hundreds of pesetas. And so he lived, wanderer

with his guitar, his draped frock coat and his

montmartrese hat. He caressed her

speech, affable, calm, lordly, erudite

he spoke like a miraculous apparition

and kind. He had a sing-song voice.

and the slight gesture; and it's not that he was weak

nor mean, it's just that he was sweet. Brother wolf,

sister ant , he said, like Saint Francis,

and as brother Saint Francis

told a wonder of tender grace, and a

is that when he was studying in the gallery

his country house a multitude of birds

They arrested him; around and they stopped their light

games, learning, serious, like

boys who are formalized, from what they heard.

This cordial generosity he took to his

music of his, which he intoxicated like a 

penetrating balm. I remember one night in July,

night of drunken sky, of sensual air;

night of murmuring fountain and crickets; evening

of vehemence for sentimental hearts.

In the patio there was a trellis

of branches like rattles, and under his shelter,

In the darkness, some people gathered

women in light suits with uncovered hair

and bare brush. Give them some

men, us smoking cigarettes, that,

When they lit up they illuminated the female faces

and they wrenched strange judgments from the

rings and bracelets. The chest swells.

like the sail of a hopeful ship.

The senses languished, because they were excited

and my heart dreamed. The house was left

back with its illuminated windows,

decoy and reminder. In this it appeared

at the door the host, with Tárrega by the

arm, some rapazus followed both of them

with Japanese lanterns, which were hung

of the vine: and with its modest and firm light,

like a first love, warmly polychrome

in various roles, as a

faded rainbow, fringed and shaped

rhythmic, they improvised a festival that

Albabaca heard, and the women swung

in the rocking chairs, opening and closing

the fan, showing the feet with

their white boots. The hours were going to roll

like the lines of the Moorish ferris wheel,

that all pour the limpid crystal

of water...

And in that moment of eternity, Francisco

Tárrega shelled, making them bounce

in the strings, their evocations and their

contemplations of him. It was the song of the night

summer, the song of the stars, was

a perfume of songs. music off

like a grill colloquium. guitar that

It sounded like psaltery and gave life to pale

beauties that we saw, in distant miniatures,

in a display case. Guitar that raised tumults

and audacity of feelings. Guitar

of celestial harp sound. guitar

the contemplations, whose word told us

the secret of those black eyes and

transparent that imprisoned ours

on the night of July. Guitar of the

evocations, gives the lavish evocations

planters, italianesque, garden with

pomegranates and nightingale, river with boats,

towers of burnished heraldic stone, harmonious

Tasso's lamentations, purple, jewels,

ideal fade...

Francisco Tárrega slid his fingers

with passion for the strings that shook

and they sighed. The presentiment

that poetry protected us, had us

silent and collected. That way of playing

the guitar brought back the memory in that way

how Saint John of the Cross tempted

his beloved to take refuge in the cave

from the mountain, to drink the ambrosia of voluptuousness.

Meanwhile, the "car" and the

"bear" turned in the sky. passed

midnight. For a moment he stopped

the guitarist, and in it he gave some

A tower clock chimed, and it grew cold

the breeze of the sea, and a lantern burned,

writhing among the branches...

We leave the charm. We talk, we get up,

the circle was broken, it ended

like this the concert... I mean, yeah no. Then

there was a secret collection, which secretly

Tárrega was offered 40 some duros. And then a game was made

of letters. And Tárrega, who did not play,

He persisted in sitting on the mat, and they snatched him

forty duros.


Tárrega has died, and here, in Madrid,

few, very few, have written about him.

They don't know him. I have wanted to discover myself

before his burial, that the great ones

see across the mountains. Saving

The seas and mountains will once again honor

nor bohemian saint of the frock coat and the

haldudo chambergo, the italian poets

who celebrated perfumed and floral parties

in the honor of him, and of the serenades of him, the

lyrics that frequently praised him...

Federico Garcia Sanchiz



Acaba de morir en el silencio un.itombre

divino. Era músico, romántico, bueno, candoroso,

infeliz. Se llamaba Francisco Tárrega, el guitarrista Tárrega

Algunos, pocos, diarios y revistas publican

su retrato. Allí podéis verle con

su melena envolviendo la voluminosa testa como un turbante, con su gruesas gafas, tras las que se aduermen unos párpados

escaldados, con su poril!a amplia

oomo una barba de los relievíte asirios, con

la acostumbrada disposición fervorosa

las blancas manos puestas en la caja de

la guitarra, igual que para un sacrificio;

el escorzo todo manifestando suavidad recatada,

unción, deliquio de graciosa belleza,

tal vez galante, y en la misma fotografía,

que os le presentará bieato y venerable,

como el altar á su imagen, hallaréis

una muestra de su candor y de su pintoresco,

lento y ccnstante martirio. Porque

ti bendito del retratista no se le ocurrió

más sino sentar á Tárrega en un taburete

de caña de las Indias, junto á un velador

de lo mismo, sólo que los tableros de mimbre

un velador de esos que no se comprenden

sin la maceta de flores de trapo,

el cenicero con un cigarro imitado de porcelana,

y que constituyen el adorno central

de cualquier estrado bárbaro y de mal

gusto. El señor fotógrafo cometió una

irreverencia obligando á posar á Tárrega

donde se esponjaría de vanidad un tabernero

endomingado, una boda de la plazuela.

Y es que, gracias á la gañanesca y

á la tenderil popularidad de la guitarra,

instrumento que comparte los.plausos de

una afición de los toreros, muchas toscas

y zurdas gentes se acercan á aquel

espíritu supremo de elegancías y exquisiteces,

y aunque él bien lo notaba, resignábase

v los atendía, y sufrió persecución

de sus babosos cumplimiento Hermano

lobo, hermana hormiga, decía San Francisco

de Asís.

Pero Tári'ega no era un guitarrista.

Francisco de Tárrega fué un poeta enamorado

de la música, un poeta de madrigales,

serenatas, evocaciones v contemplaciones.

Pudo componer versos como Garcilaso,

competir con Sarasate en el violín,

Sarasate que, con su orgullo, lo admiraba;

pudo correr el mundo de virtuoso pianista,

ó abrazado á un violoncello que se habría

hecho célebre. Prefirió la guitarra

no obstante que no pertenecía á la admitida

aristocracia instrumental—prefirió, la

guitarra por más sensual, transparente y

entrañable. Y aquí, en España, con el prejuicio

de colmado que tenemos de la guitarra,

sin acordarnos de aquellas petrimetras

que con guitarras arrullaron los últimos

días del siglo xviii, no le escuchamos,

no querirmos oirle Pero en Inglaterra frecuentamente

agasajaban á Tarrega los lores,

y en Italia los poetas celebraron perfumadas

y floréales fiestas on honor del

guitarrista de las serenatas, de los minuetos,

de las gentilezas.

Comprendéis cuan íntimo y puro sería

el refinamiento de un músico elevadísimo,

que por refinamiento elige un instrumento popular. 

Allá, en Levante, en la costa

paralela de la italiana, engalanadas orillas

del mar más bonito, yo lo sentí muchas

veces. Tárrega vivia  en Barcelona.

Frecuentemente, en ocasiones, forzado por

la necesidad, iba á Valencia, daba conciertos.

Tornábase á Barcelona con unos

centenares de pesetas. Y así vivía, romero

con su guitarra su haldada levita y su

chambergo montmartrese. Acariciaba su

discurso, afable, sosegado, señoril, erudito

hablaba como una aparición milagrera

y bondadosa. Tenia una voz cantarína

y el ademán leve; y no es que fuese débil

ni ruin, es que fué dulce. Hermano lobo,

hermana hormiga, decía, corno San Francisco,

y como hermano San Francisco

contaba maravilla de tierna gracia, y una

es que cuando estudiaba en la galería de

su casa de campo multitud de pájaros se

detenían á si; aírededor y paraban sus livianos

juegos, enterándose, graves, como

chicos que se formalizan, de lo que oían.

Esta generosidad cordial llevábala á su

música, que embriagaba como un bálsamo

penetrante. Recuerdo una noche de Julio,

noche de cielo borracho, de aire sensual;

noche de rumor de fuente y grillos; noche

de vehemencia para los corazones sentimentales.

En el patio había un emparrado

de pámpanas como sonajas, y á su cobijo,

en la obscuridad, agrupábanse unas

mujeres de trajes claros cabellos descubiertos

y brozo desnudo. Eníie ellas unos

hombres, nosotros fumando cigarros, que,

al encenderse iluminaban los rostros femeninos

y arrancaban extrañas Iuece á los

anillos y pulseras. El pecho se henchua.

como la ve!a de una nave esperanzada.

Languidecían los sentidos, porque se ilusionaba

y soñaba ei corazón. La casa quedaba

atrás con sus ventanas iluminadas,

señuelo y recordatorio. En esto apareció

en la puerta el anfitrión, con Tárrega del

brazo A entrambos seguían unos rapazucos

con farolas japonesas, que se colgaron

de la parra: y con su luz pudorosa y firme,

como un primer amor, tibiamente policroma

en los diversos papeles, como un

desvaído arco iris, flecosas y de formas

rítmican, improvisaron una verbena que

oída á albabaca, y las mujeres se columpiaban

en las mecedoras, abriendo y cerrando

el abanico, mostrando los pies con

sus botinas blancas. Las horas iban á rodar

como los rengilones de la noria morisca,

que vierten todos el cristal límpido

de agua...

Y en aquel momento de eternidad, Francisco

Tárrega desgranó, haciéndolas rebotar

en las cuerdas, sus evocaciones y sus

contemplaciones. Era la canción de la noche

estival, la canción de las estrellas, era

un perfume de canciones. Apagada música

corno un coloquio de reja. Guitarra que

sonaba á salterió y daba vida a pálidas

bellezas que vimos, en lejanas miniaturas,

en una vitrina. Guitarra que levantaba tumultos

y audacias de sentimientos. Guitarra

de son celeste de arpa. Guitarra de

las contemplaciones, cuya palabra nos decía

el secreto do aquellos ojos negros y

transparentes que aprisionaban los nuestros

en la noche de Julio. Guitarra de las

evocaciones, da las fastuosas evocaciones 

jardineras, italianeiscas, jardín con

granados y ruiseñor, río con barcarolas,

torres de bruñida piedra heráldica, armoniosos

lamentos del Tasso, púrpura, joyas,

desvanecimiento ideal...

Francisco Tárrega deslizaba sus dedos

con pasión por las cuerdas que se estremecían

y suspiraban. El presentimiento

de que la poesía nos amparaba, nos tenía

mudos y recogidos. Aquella manera de tocar

la guitarra traía el recuerdo de aquella manera 

cómo San Juan de la Cruz tentaba

á su amada á refugiarse en la cueva

del monte, á beber la ambrosía de la voluptuosidad. 

En tanto, el "carro" y la

"osa" volteaban en el firmamento. Transcurrió

media noche. Un instante se detuvo

el guitarrista, y en el mismo dio unas

campanadas un reloj de torre, y se enfriaba

el cefirillo de la mar, y un farol ardió,

retorciéndose entre los pámpanas...

Salimos del encanto. Hablamos, nos levantamos,

se rompió el círculo, terminó

así el concierto... Es decir, seí no. Luego

hubo una reservada colecta, que secretamente

se ofreció á Tárrega, una cuarentena

de duros. Y después se armó un juego

de cartas. Y Tárrega, que no jugaba,

obstinóse en sentarse al tapete, y le arrebataron

los cuarenta duros.


Se ha muerto Tárrega, y aquí, en Madrid,

pocos, muy pocos, han escrito de él.

No le conocen. Yo he querido descubrirme

ante su entierro, que el de los grandes se

divisa á través de las montañas. Salvando

los mares y las montañas volverán á honrar

ni santo bohemio de la levita y el

chambergo haldudo, los poetas italianos

que celebraron perfumadas y floréales fiestas 

en su honor, y de sus serenatas, los

lires que lo enaltecían frecuentemente...

Federico Garcia Sanchiz


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