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The Guitar February 2, 1857

La Guitarra by Antonio Rubira Composer of the famous Spanish Romance

by: Randy Osborne - Published 10/20/2023 5:03 PM and updated 10/21/2023 10:55 AM

In late 2012 Rico Stover, the biographer of Agustin Barrios Mangore, asked me to assist him in doing the research for the actual composer of the well known Spanish Romance - Romance de Amor. who is: Antonio Rubira.

I begged off at first saying: "I'm working on my own book "Annotations for the History of the Classical Guitar  in Argentina 1822-2000", I've been doing this since September of 2000, I can't help you sir."

"Oh come on your archives are so vast you even have the oldest printed version of this Romance from 1904, you have the largest archive of materials relating to the guitar in the Rio de la Plata area in North America." Rico said this because my Annotations book was written from the accumulation of 12 archives that were 26 feet thick in the metal cabinets they are housed in.

So, I allowed myself to get involved. Eventually Rico said: "I have over 200 emails on this subject we have both been studying."

Here is one such email from September 9, 2013:

"The Antonio Rubira entry in Domingo Prat's "Diccionario de Guitarristas y Guitarreros" (p. 274) gives no birth date nor death date. He claims that Julian Arcas and Juan Parga were devoted admirers who were attracted by the his sublime pulsation and believed that they had discovered in this artist a supernatural talent. Prat continues mentioning that Rubira published music that included fantasias on operatic motifs, also mentioning three single works: Valses fantasticos, El Aniversario and Estudio, this last being the Romance Anonimo, which Prat observes has been published many times for its simplicity and appeal."

I used the profits from my store to fund the purchase of books, originals or reprints, that we found referenced in online libraries, such as the Biblioteca Nacional de Espana in Madrid.

Six months later the six pages of historical documentation of Richard D. Stover's edition was ready for publication by Mel Bay in April of 2013.

Yesterday, October 20, 2023, I found this article written in 1857 for the weekly magazine "Zarzuela" by Antonio Rubira, the composer of the Spanish Romance - Romance de Amor.


THE GUITAR February 2, 1857

The article that appears below has been sent to us by an intelligent person who is very passionate about the guitar, who also brings together, for us, the favorable circumstance of being a constant subscriber to LA ZARZUELA since the appearance of the first issue of this newspaper. This makes us wonder that Mr. Rubira could have forgotten what, about his favorite instrument, appears in numbers 4 and 9 corresponding to February 25 and March 31 of last year (1856). In the Madrid chronicle and in the section of criticism, our valued subscriber can see that we have not wasted the opportunity to come out in defense of the guitar, so neglected today in Spain.

Nor do we believe that the accusation that Mr. Rubira directs to the press is very well-founded, when in the columns of the newspapers, not infrequent praise has appeared on repeated occasions, dedicated to the guitarists who have made themselves heard in Madrid, in

regarding the doctrines that the writer puts forward to

that guitar teaching be adopted at the Conservatory

of music, it is to be feared that it will not be realized

the good wish of him, because the guitar does not have the same

application than other instruments, even the piano

that the guitar will never be able to banish, due to

to the immense advantages that the former has over the latter.

I wish what the gentleman is proposing could be verified.

ftubira, that we certainly would not be the ones

that we would oppose. That's what made us welcome

with particular predilection his writing that says


"Thirteen years ago the distinguished writer Don

Miguel Agustin Principe, wrote in El Anfion Matritense

an article in favor of the guitar. After

no one has written a line about it until now

because another one has appeared in La Gaceta Musical,

signed by Mr. Florencio Gomez Parreño.

A piano composition is published, the newspapers

They talk about her. A good piece is played on

the same instrument, the newspapers mention it

honorifically, the same as the performer. Comes

a foreign pianist, or any instrumentalist,

The newspapers lavish praise on him.

A brilliant work for guitar is published, no one

says a word. There is a distinguished guitarist,

unattended passes. Since he doesn't believe his reputation,

The press does not provide protection. Furthermore, few

they understand e! merit of the guitar, and this consists,

in which there are many bad guitars, very bad

touches that cause annoyance, and this happens because

There are few who play them well, because they need

special qualities to play it. Good teaching

and direction, difficult exercises, perseverance without limits,

patience, faith and tireless spirit, with these requirements

and with a purposeful organization and a

heart of a musician, satisfactory success can be achieved.

It takes many years, but it is achieved

the aforementioned circumstances occur.

A perfectly built guitar, in good condition.

wood, with convenient dimensions, with

excellent strings, put in the hands of a good

Professor, make him produce full, round sounds,

vibrant and expressive, it is the instrument

more moving, more eloquent, sweeter and more

poetic of all that exist.

If there is anyone who calls what was said an exaggeration

listen to the distinguished professor Antonio Cano and

he will confirm what we have just expressed.

By mentioning this great professor we cannot even

we must refrain from saying anything about its magnificent

compositions of his, among which one stands out, which

The kindness of its author has placed it in our hands, destined for the competition that Mr. Makarroff has opened in Brussels.

The contest! The court presided over by Mr. Makarroff?

We do not intend to infer insult to the Russian fan, on the contrary, we believe that he deserves praise

for having exposed our national

instrument, it is enough for it to be Spanish to

that in Spain it is looked at with indifference. But

Will there be anyone who believes that 64 compositions, all of

first force, have been included in a

term as reduced and short as that indicated by

Mr. Makarroff? We don't pretend we know what we say

We affirm, without fear of being denied,

that to judge correctly about the merit of the 64 works presented, the guitarist needed

Russian 64 weeks, assuming he is a good teacher,

because guitar works are not graded or judged

by the simple sight of them, but by touching them and

studying different effects they contain, and

This is not done suddenly.

From this we deduce very logically that the prizes

have not been able to be awarded with absolute impartiality.

We want to conclude by not being vague, although we could

add many more things, which we would like to

more authorized people would expand us.

But we will not conclude without recording a thought

highly important.

At the Conservatory you learn, under the direction

of excellent teachers, to play the piano and other

instruments, and these and that one play well. Likewise

the guitar would be played well and it would become widespread,

if the Conservatory had a Guitar Academy.

The nationality character of this patriotic

and Spanish instrument make him eligible to have

entry into it. The Management would not act fairly

of the Conservatory if it rewarded the high merit of the

eminent professor Antonio Cano making him Director

of this Academy? We believe that it brings together this

teacher all the necessary qualifications, brilliant way

of playing and excellent original works, among which

that there is a method that can and should appear

next to the one published by the immortal Dionisio


The teachers and fans of Madrid and the

provinces would do a service to art, if convinced

dc the truths that we have just expressed, will support

our purpose.

The glory, if it were achieved, would belong to everyone, and

then the guitar would emerge from prostration and despondency

in which it is found, the music that was written

for this instrument it would be known, played

and more appreciated than now, than for one

who interprets it regularly, forty disfigure it

and they destroy it without mercy, and the

case that the guitar was fashionable and banished

at the piano, which would not be difficult, given the little attention

price of it compared to the size of a piano,

however cheap it may be, and given the ease of

move it and a thousand other advantages that we did not list.

It is up to the guitarists, we repeat, to support the

Feeling that we have had the honor to initiate,

The future of the guitar depends on them, if not

they till it will be everyone's fault, and they will never have

reason to make complaints."

A. Rubira.

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