… that Joaquin Rodrigo was blind. Did you?

A few years ago, when I was listening to KUSC, LA’s only classical music station, I heard some beautiful guitar music by Joaquin Rodrigo, whose name I had heard many times. When the piece ended, the announcer mentioned that Rodrigo was blind. I was shocked. Not once had that fact been mentioned to me before. After that, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his vocal music, of which there is plenty. His daughter runs a foundation in his name, complete with a website where all of his music can be purchased. I found a treasure trove of songs for voice and piano.

Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999) was a Spanish composer who became blind from a diphtheria epidemic in Valencia, Spain, and despite the fact his family had no musical inclinations, he pursued a career in music, began composing at a very young age and persuaded his father to let him go to Paris to study as other great Spanish composers had done. He was a favorite pupil of Paul Dukas and obtained a scholarship from Spain to continue his studies in Paris where he met his future wife, the Turkish pianist of Sephardic origin, Victoria Kamhi.

Both families opposed their marriage but they prevailed and their union was very fruitful as she became his collaborator, companion and in his words “his eyes” for a long life together. He became very prolific, respected and well known but most people do not know he was blind. I had stumbled upon him at last, my blind classical music hero, a person who made music history and contributed so much wonderful repertoire to the array of music performed to this day. In my quest to find some of his songs to perform in my concert, I contacted his daughter Cecilia who responded to me directly upon hearing I myself am blind and am interested in performing her father’s music. I will be performing six of his songs for voice and piano in my concert.

The rest of the article is worth reading as well.

2 Comments

  1. Great article. Thanks for sharing…

  2. I was glad to have found it, Ceci. My sister-in-law raises guide dogs and she loved it!