Joaquín Rodrigo was born in Sagunto on November 22, 1901, the day of Santa Cecilia, patron saint of music. At three years of age, he loses his sight as a result of a diphtheria epidemic.
At the age of eight, he began music studies in solfeggio, violin and piano in Valencia. Later, harmony and composition with the teachers Francisco Antich, Enrique Gomá and Eduardo Chavarri. His first compositions date from 1923.
In 1927, he moved to Paris and entered the Normal School of Music to study composition with Paul Dukas, who showed a special predilection towards his pupil. Soon he became known as a pianist and composer in Parisian musical circles and became friends with Ravel, Milhaud, Honneger, Stravinski and Manuel de Falla.
In 1933 he married the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi, who is from then until his death in July 1997, inseparable companion and his most assiduous collaborator.
In 1940 the world premiere of the Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra took place in Barcelona, the first of his works that would give him universal fame and a clear example of his personality. Rodrigo remains faithful to an aesthetic that he himself liked to call “neocasticismo”, practicing the tonal tradition, the taste for classical forms and incorporating cultured elements as a way of union between the Spanish tradition and the present, creating that recognizable style immediately. He knows the most modern European aesthetics, but he affirms his own personality.
The music of Joaquín Rodrigo represents a tribute to the different cultures of Spain as he uses, as a source of inspiration, the most varied manifestations of the soul of his country, from the history of Roman Spain to the texts of contemporary poets. It has enriched all the genres, but perhaps it is the composer of our century who owes most the aesthetics of the concert. He has specially cultivated the song, to which he has given a new and universal language, creating masterpieces such as Cantico de la esposa or Cuatro madrigales amatorios. His piano works alone would suffice to put him on the front line, but his instrumental creation also includes important compositions for violin, cello, and flute. We must also highlight the contribution of Joaquín Rodrigo to the repertoire for guitar, which has been definitive, since it has achieved its dignity and internationalization as a concert instrument.
Since the year 1940 the distinctions, honors, tributes and Festivals have been happening uninterruptedly. Full member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando (1950) and other academies, as well as Doctor Honoris Causa by various universities in Spain and abroad, received, among other awards, the Grand Cross of the Order of Alfonso X. Wise (1953), the Legion of Honor granted by the French Government (1963), the Great Cross of Civil Merit (1966) the Prize of the Guerrero Foundation (1990), and the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts (1996).
In 1991, King Juan Carlos I awarded him the noble title of Marqués de los Jardines de Aranjuez “for his extraordinary contribution to Spanish music, to which he has contributed new impulses for a universal projection”
Joaquín Rodrigo died in Madrid on July 6, 1999 surrounded by his family.