Cumpiano guitars                                Cumpiano articles archive                                      Make a guitar with William
Segovia’s American Tour
New York Times
September 4, 1927                                                  
...back to William Cumpiano's Segovia Page

Segovia Town Hall program ANDRES SEGOVIA, that serious young Spaniard from the romantic hills of Granada, who has raised the humble guitar to the status of a concert instrument, returns to this country after an absence of three seasons.

A guitarist! To those who have never succumbed to the spell of Segovia, the thought may evoke a supercilious smile. In the opinion of some people a guitar is at best a romantic accompaniment to a serenade.

But under the magic touch of Segovia, this poor Cinderella of musical instruments is changed into a princess and rides in a coach by his side.

Segovia's first visit to this country was in the early part of 1928. In five weeks he had piled up astonishing record of six sold-out New York recitals, two Boston recitals, and twenty-five appearances outside of New York. In his second season he filled forty dates in eleven weeks.' His third visit here was preceded by a tour of the Far East, thus making him a figure of international acclaim.

 His New York debut may safely be said to have made musical history, in that it was the first guitar recital ever to have been given in this city. The novelty of the recital brought a throng of curious, for to the majority the recital could be little more than a freak event.

What the audience saw was a young man bearing a striking resemblance to Franz Schubert, but of true Andalusian type olive complexion, raven-black hair and the expansive forehead of the scholar.

By sheer genius be demonstrated undreamed-of possibilities. Bending absorbed over his instrument, he drew from it a fairy-like music. He took a Bach Suite and, within the compass of six strings achieved an intricate polyphony, incredible as this may sound. Under his deft fingers one heard a Handel Sarabande, a Haydn Minuet. Sheer wizardry, it seemed.

It is this treatment of the classics that evokes the wonder of musicians and gives Segovia title to "the genius of the guitar." Small wonder that composers like DeFalla, Turina, Torroba, and others are writing music especially for him.

But when all is said, there still remains the fact that "Segovia must be heard to be believed." When one has listened to the musical magic of his guitar, only then can one appreciate the marvel of his playing.


He gave one of the most extraordinary and engrossing recitals of music that has ever taken place in a New York concert hall. He made the guitar a thing to be spoken of in the same breath with the 'cello of Casals, the violin of Heifetz.

Hearing Mr. Segovia, you begin by exclaiming over his astounding virtuosity; you end by exclaiming over his beautiful and sincere and exquisite musician-ship. The kaleidoscopic variety of effects that he secures baffles comprehension. The elfin wizardry of this playing is in a musical world by itself.

The technical proficiency of Mr. Segovia is almost incredible to those who know the character of the instrument. The most remarkable exhibition of technic was the performance of Bach's Fugue, with a contrapuntal clearness that a violinist or a clavecinist might well have envied.

In Mr. Segovia's marvelous hands his guitar could be impressively solemn, as in the stately Sarabande; it could work a Spanish spell, as in the fascinating Serenata by Malata; or it could bring out old-world grace in the dance, as in Haydn's charming Minuet.

He belongs to the very small group of musicians who by transcendent powers of execution, by imagination and intuition, create an art of their own.

He is a wholly exceptional artist, a man of mark among musicians.