From the liner notes of the new FRESH! From Reference Recordings release Andrés Segovia Archive: Spanish Composers featuring guitarist Roberto Moronn Perez:
One of Andrés Segovia's greatest achievements in the history of guitar music was his success in commissioning new works for his instrument. From the very outset of his career he took the decision to become actively involved in encouraging world renowned composers to write for him. up till that point, guitar performance had been restricted to music written by guitarists themselves, and of those very few had the talent to produce pieces which combined both the special features of the guitar idiom (that aspect which was most natural to them) and more diverse musical features (that one might find, for instance in the piano and violin repertoires), Segovia realized that if as an artist he was to make real progress, it would be vital to raise the profile of guitar music and to that end he immediately began to engage with the wider musical community and to encourage a diverse range of composers to write for the guitar that had never previously done so before.
At first Segovia had to overcome the reluctance of composers who were already at the height of their careers and who were not keen (mostly because of a lack of confidence) to write for an instrument for which they had only a passing aesthetic appreciation and whose technical aspects were little known to them. Their fears were furthermore backed up by the opinions of composers like Hector Berlioz no less who, a guitar player himself, had strongly affirmed that it was impossible to write for the guitar unless one also played the instrument. Segovia got around this obstacle, however, by encouraging composers to acquire the basic notations (relating to range and tonality) and simply to write as freely as possible without worrying too much about the more technical aspects. Segovia knew that the composers would make all sorts of errors, but for him this was not an issue because he would personally interven and make corrections to passages which were technically impossible for the guitarist to play; subsequently, he even intervened in passages where he felt that the effect was not quite right. Basically, he would suggest changes that would enhance the performance, by making the music more fluent and also more expressive.
The first compositions started arriving in 1919 and at that point Segovia would no doubt have had several misgivings regarding the outcome of his 'crusade', but he only had to wait another six or seven years before he would be vindicated and be able to prove that his 'campaign' had been justified. The pieces that he received were not only of the highest quality but also numerous in number, so much so that he found himself in the embarrassing situation of having to turn many of them down. In fact, there was only room for a small percentage of the new pieces in his concert programmes and discs: he had received far more pieces than he had ever dreamed of and that he could accept...
Read part two here!
Andrés Segovia Archive
Roberto Morronn Pérez
A Superb New Classical Guitar Recording
Labels: Andres Segovia Archive, FRESH, Fresh From Reference Recordings, liner notes, Roberto Moronn Perez