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MIGUEL LLOBET SOLES  

(1878 - 1938)

The opening of the twentieth century ushered in a new era for the classical guitar. With a new face-lift and some structural changes, as well as the performances and compositions of Francisco Tárrega, the guitar was launched and firmly established on a course that has seen it develop into one of the most widespread string instruments today. Two guitarists, Miguel Llobet and Andrés Segovia (1893–1987), are largely responsible for this increased popularity. Segovia did not study with Tárrega; he admits, however, to an indirect influence through Llobet. Llobet took the necessary steps to continue what Tárrega had started: create new music, make transcriptions of contemporary composers, develop and expand pedagogical practices for the guitar. Tárrega never toured outside Western Europe, whereas Llobet moved into the life of an international concert artist at the opening of the twentieth century by travelling to venues on other continents.

Miguel Llobet Soles was born on 18 October 1878, and died on 22 February 1938 in Barcelona. In 1889 he began studying the instrument with Magín Alegre who in that same year took him to hear the blind Spanish virtuoso of the guitar Antonio Jimenez Manjón (1866–1919). It was after this concert that Llobet decided upon the guitar as his life’s ambition; he stated that Manjón had left an indelible impression upon him. At the age of sixteen Llobet attended the Municipal Conservatory of Music where he continued his studies with Tárrega. Some of the students and friends at this music institute were Pablo Casals, Emilio Pujol, Ricardo Viñes, Gaspar Cassadó and other Catalonian notables. Llobet’s first public appearance took place in 1901 at the Conservatory of Valencia. In 1904 his friend and compatriot Ricardo Viñes, the noted pianist and interpreter of Debussy keyboard works, presented him in his first concert outside Spain, in Paris.

While living in Paris from 1905 to 1910 Llobet gave concerts throughout continental Europe and the British Isles. His first concert in South America was given in 1910. In Buenos Aires Llobet made a temporary home, periodically leaving on concert tours that took him north through Brazil and into Central America and the Caribbean. By 1912 his tours had brought him to the United States. At the outbreak of World War I, Llobet returned to Buenos Aires, where he gave concerts and taught some students. The concerts given during the war years continued to reach as far north as the United States. After 1930 he settled in Barcelona to teach and give occasional concerts. In 1934 he offered concerts in Vienna, Germany and other parts of Western Europe.

By 1937 Llobet was back in Barcelona during one of the most difficult sieges upon his hometown at the time of the Spanish Civil War. Jaime Pahissa (in his book, Manuel de Falla) says that when he saw Llobet at this time, “he was wandering through the streets of Barcelona and he seemed absolutely crushed, overwhelmed by circumstances and completely apathetic”. Soon after, his health began to fail, whereupon he contracted pleurisy and died the following year.

Llobet’s publications number approximately 75. To Miguel Llobet is given the credit for bringing the classic guitar into the modern musical world of international concert tours, for contributing new works to the repertoire, for presenting to the public in performance the new works of such composers as Falla, Villa Lobos, Ponce and others, for teaching, organizing and expanding the pedagogical principles of Tárrega, and, of utmost importance, for having made the first electric recordings of the classic guitar.

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