Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes Heitor Villa-Lobos: 5 Preludes and 12 Etudes for Guitar

A thing of beauty and a joy forever: an Alhambra Linea Pro Classical/Spanish Guitar, hand crafted in Muro De Alcoy, Spain

Oh, the Conceit, the Arrogance!

Yesterday’s Music History Monday post noted that the rock guitarist Paul Rossoff – he of the 20 Quaalude-a-day habit – is (or at least was, at one time) ranked 51st in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” I have consulted that list here in August 2021. According to Rolling Stone, here are the ten greatest guitarists of all time, starting with number 1:

1. Jimi Hendrix

2. Eric Clapton

3. Jimmy Page

4. Keith Richards

5. Jeff Beck

6. B. B. King

7. Chuck Berry

8. Eddie Van Halen

9. Duane Allman

10. Pete Townsend

(For our information, at number 100 is a non-entity named “Lindsey Buckingham.”)

We would observe the painfully, absurdly obvious. Nowhere does Rolling Stone qualify its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” as being the “100 Greatest ROCK ‘N’ ROLL Guitarists of All Time” or the “100 Greatest ELECTRIC Guitarists of All Time.” No, we’re just supposed to take it on face value that these 100 are the greatest guitarists of all time. Neither does Greatest Guitar qualify its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (which puts Brian May at number 1); nor does Guitar World qualify its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” (which puts Eddie Van Halen at number 1).

For the heck of it, here’s my list of the eleven (I hate top ten lists) “greatest” classical guitarists, in chronological order:

1. Fernando Sor (1778-1839)

2. Franceso Tárrega (1852-1909)

3. Andrés Segovia (1893-1987)

4. Narciso Yepes (1927-1997)

5. Julian Bream (1933-2020)

6. John Williams (not the film composer; born 1941)

7. Christopher Parkening (born 1941)

8. Eduardo Fernández (born 1952)

9. Eliot Fisk (born 1954)

10. Sharon Isbin (born 1956)

11. David Tanenbaum (born 1956)

Now don’t get me wrong, because as both heaven and long-time patrons know, I am a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton in particular, despite the latter’s idiotic statements about the COVID vaccine. But from a strictly technical point of view and an ability to play and interpret a broad range of repertoire, the rockers cannot hold a candle to the eleven guitarists listed above.

(For that matter, I would question whether the rockers could hold that proverbial candle to the top acoustic, jazz, and flamenco guitarists, either. I somehow doubt it. So much for “the greatest guitarists of all time.”)

The point of this little exercise is to drive home the fact that the world of the guitar and guitar music goes far, far, far beyond the boundaries of rock ‘n’ roll and the moronic top-ten (or top-100) culture of rankings we presently live in.

The Real Deal: The Classical/Spanish (acoustic) Guitar and Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)

My Dr. Bob Prescribes post for June 9, 2020 – entitled Flamenco – briefly (but energetically!) discussed the origins of the 6-string classical or Spanish guitar. It is indeed an instrument of Spanish origin, and its first great exponents – as performers and composers – were, as we would expect, from Spain and Latin America.…

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