Written in , it is by far Rodrigo's best-known work, and its success established his reputation as one of the most significant Spanish composers of the 20th century. The Concierto de Aranjuez was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez , the spring resort palace and gardens built by Philip II in the last half of the 16th century and rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century by Ferdinand VI. The work attempts to transport the listener to another place and time through the evocation of the sounds of nature. According to the composer, the first movement is "animated by a rhythmic spirit and vigour without either of the two themes Rodrigo and his wife Victoria stayed silent for many years about the inspiration for the second movement, and thus the popular belief grew that it was inspired by the bombing of Guernica in
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Blind since the age of three, Rodrigo began musical training early and continued it long. He moved to Paris to study with Paul Dukas in and returned there after his marriage in to the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi, continuing his studies at the Conservatory and the Sorbonne. He came back to Spain only after the end of the Spanish Civil War in He brought with him the Concierto de Aranjuez , a breakthrough work he had composed at the suggestion of guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza, to whom the concerto is dedicated.
Aranjuez is the former summer palace of the Bourbon kings, outside Madrid on the road to Toledo. The soloist launches it, strumming a characteristic pattern that plays with the fact that six beats can be either two groups of three or three groups of two. Balance is always an issue in writing for guitar with orchestra, and Rodrigo supports the guitarist with only soft sustained tonic Ds. Rodrigo does not budge from the home key until many bars into the music.
The central Adagio presents one of the most memorable of melodies, the simplest of intervals over elemental harmony, but enriched with the inflections of cante jondo , the deep song of Andalusia. The guitar begins with strummed chords again, accompanying the English horn in that haunting melody, then embellishes the phrase, and the two instruments trade off again on the second half of the tune. The movement opens in B minor, but moves through a number of keys.
A brief coda, gently brightened in the major mode, ends with the guitar trilling like a bird greeting the dawn. The finale is another robust dance movement and it too plays duple vs. The guitar states the main theme, the orchestra echoes it, and Rodrigo reprises the formal pattern of the first movement down to the soft, dry close.
Concierto de Aranjuez