Dionisio Aguado life and music

Dionisio Aguado was one of the classic composers for the guitar in the nineteenth century. He is best known today for his New Guitar Method which Tecla publishes in English translation, but he also composed many other pieces, for example his Fandango, op. 16, which can be stunning in an enthusiastic performance.

Aguado was born in Madrid in 1784, the son of a notary. He early on took lessons from the famous guitarist Padre Basilio. During the time that the French were in Spain (1808 to 1814) he appears to have taken little part in the political events but spent those years in Fuenlabrada near Madrid where his family had property.

In 1820 he published in Madrid his Colección de Estudios which was a collection of studies for guitar, then in 1825 his Escuela de Guitarra which was a method for guitar but included many of the same pieces that had already appeared in the Colección de Estudios. Very shortly afterwards he travelled to Paris where he again published his Escuela, in Spanish and now also translated into French.

Much later, in Madrid in 1843, he published a new version of the method entitled the Nuevo Método para Guitarra, which became the best-known of all methods for guitar during the rest of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth. This is the version of the method which is published in English translation by Tecla. It is divided into numbered sections and paragraphs, so highly organized that it reminds us of a legal document, which may very well show the influence of his father’s profession as a notary.

Aguado composed and published several other solos for guitar, among them the two works which are in a wholly different style from his other pieces: Le Fandango Varié and Le menuet affandangado. I suspect that they may show the influence of his teacher Padre Basilio who is known to have played in that more popular style. I published the Fandango in a modern re-engraved edition in 1982 and I am happy to see that it is now sometimes played, often with great effect.

He died in Madrid in 1849.

The complete introduction to my edition of Aguado’s New Guitar Method can be read here on this site and gives (among other things) full bibliographical details about the many different versions of Aguado’s method which the composer published during his lifetime.

The complete preface to the Tecla edition of Aguado’s Variations on the Fandango, op. 16 can be read here on this site and gives many details about Aguado, the fandango dance, Casanova and the fandango, Padre Basilio, and the circumstances of the publication of this work in Paris, etc.

Many references to Aguado, details of his life, and an account by Baltasar Saldoni of an unexpected meeting with Aguado in Paris, can be found in my book Fernando Sor, Composer and Guitarist.

A duet for two guitars entitled Les Deux Amis which Sor composed especially to be played by himself and by Aguado (the two guitar parts are marked “Sor” and “Aguado” in the original edition), is published in volumes 8-11 of my edition of Sor’s New Complete Works for Guitar Solo and Guitar Duet.

A piece by De Fossa entitled Recuerdo, published in a modern edition by Tecla Editions, is dedicated to Aguado.

Brian Jeffery

TITLES IN TECLA:

Aguado: New Guitar Method
Aguado: Variations on the Fandango

Tecla home page