Narciso Yepes, Lorca 14-IX-1927, Murcia 3-V-1997
Narciso Yepes was born the 14 of November1927 in Marchena, 7 km from Lorca.
When he was only 4 years old, his father catchs him in the act of hanging a walking stick in a guitar manner, pretending to be playing a real instrument. His father, a modest peasant, supported his son incipient inclination towards the music by buying him a real guitar at the fair of Lorca.
Some days later, the young child already was playing by ear the popular tunes at that time, and his father started to bring him to Lorca, on a humble little donkey, to take solfege and guitar lessons from his first teacher, Jesús Guevara.
When he was 12 years old, the family moves to Valencia, where Narciso studies the bachelor’s degree besides of going deeper in his musical studies at the Conservatory of Music. His teacher, Vicente Asensio, forces him to make up his own self-technique. In 1943 he made his debut at the Teatro Serrano in Valencia.
The family moves back to live in Lorca, and here he plays for the famous conductor Ataúlfo Argenta, who proposes him to move to Madrid, where he meets the composers Regino Sainz de la Maza and Joaquín Rodrigo, who has just finished the composition of the «Concierto de Aranjuez», work with wich Yepes started his career as soloist when he performed it in 1947, with the Orquesta de Camara under Ataúlfo Argenta’s baton, in the Teatro Español of Madrid.
In 1948 he plays very succesfully in Genève, Swiss, and since that his activity as concertist is overwhelming.
He moves to Paris where, even though the tributes he receives for his art, he thinks he must go deeper into his study, work and research, and so he would act for the rest of his life. There he meets such great personalities from the musical world like Nadia Boulanger, George Enesco and Walter Giesekmg, wich will help to complete his artistic personality.
Also in Paris he meets a young woman of Polish origin, student of philosophy at the Sorbonne, Marysia, and they married in 1958 and had 3 children, Juan de la Cruz (death in accident), Ignacio, orchestral conductor, and Ana, choreographer at the Opera in Paris.
He receives the public gratitude when he composes and performes in 1952 the music for René Clement’s film «Jeux Interdits», prize in Cannes and Venice festivals and Oscar to the foreign film that year.
His recordings are worldwide sold, but his endless research interest leads him to invent in 1964 the 10 strings guitar, and at the same time that he goes on his big career as concertist all over the world, he constantly works in the recovery and edition of old unpublished scores from the Renaissance, Baroque, etc., with more than 6000 works.
Applauded by the audiences all along the world, he has been a tireless traveller, giving concerts around the world. In 1980 he tours by the first time the former Soviet Union. From there he goes to Japan, where he gives 40 concerts and his art is really revered.
Concertist and teacher worldwide well know, he got many distinctions during his life:
- 1964 Favourite Son of the Town of Lorca
- 1964 Laurels of Murcia
- 1977 Doctor Honnoris Causa by the University of Murcia
- 1977 Member by Chapter and Honnour of the Royal Academy Alfonso X El Sabio from Murcia
- 1978 Favourite Son of the Region of Murcia
- 1984 Prize of the General Authors Society of Spain
- 1985 Prize of the Spanish Radio and TV Broadcasting
- 1986 National Prize of Music
- 1986 Counselor of the Higher Council for Culture and Fine Arts
- 1989 Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando
- 1989 Gold Medal of Lorca
- Many other Spanish and foreign distinctions
Thanks to this universal lorquino and Murcian, as well to other great concertists from the 20th Century like Andrés Segovia and Emilio Pujol, the guitar has reached a big prestige as instrument.
Many composers made works for solo guitar or guitar and orchestra for Narciso Yepes, and he gave many premières.
As you can see in the distinctions mentioned above, and using Yepes’own words, he was and felt «prophet in his homeland» In the town of Murcia, on the occasion of his last public appearance, he received a warm homage the 26 January 1997, giving his name to the symphonic hall of the Auditorium and Congress Center.
In Lorca, the Town Council, on behalf of all the citizens, has always persisted for perpetuating his name and memory and since many years ago there are a street and a Public Elementary School with his name, and since the 31 March 1995, the Conservatory of Music is called under his name and, in the Simón Mellado Square there is a beautiful monument with his sculpture, made by the lorquina artist Mª Dolores Fernández Arcas.
SELECTION OF RECORDINGS
for guitar and orchestra:
-S.Bacarisse: «Concertino in a minor»; Ernesto Halffter: «Concert for guitar and orchestra». Orquesta Sinfónica de RTVE, Odón Alonso.
-Mauricio Ohana: «Tres gráficos»; A. Ruiz Pipó: «Tablas». London Symphonic Orchestra, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.
-Joaquín Rodrigo: «Concierto de Aranjuez» y «Fantasía para un Gentilhombre». Orquesta Sinfónica de RTVE, Odón Alonso.
-A. Vivaldi: «Concert in D minor»; Manuel Palau: «Concierto levantino». Orquesta Nacional de España, Odón Alonso.
for solo guitar
-Five Centuries of guitar music; L. de Milán: «Seis pavanas»; L. de Narváez: «Canción del Emperador y diferencias»; D.Pisador: «Pavana y Villanesca»; G.Sanz: «Suite Española»; A.Soler: «Dos Sonatas»; Albéniz: «Malagueña»; Falla: «Homenaje a Debussy»; Halffter: «Madrigal»; M. Torroba: «Madroños»; Montsalvatge: «Habanera»; Ohana: «Tiento».
-Fernando Sor: «24 Studies».
-H.Villalobos: «12 Studies and 5 Preludes»
-Bach: «Preludio», «Chaconne in D minor», «Zarabande and Double»; S.L.Weiss: «Fantasy in E mInor and Suite in E minor».
-Música Iberoamericana; H.Ayala: «Suite»; Bacarisse: «Suite»; Poulenc: Zarabanda; Asencio: «Homenajes»; Gombau: «Tres piezas de La Belle Époque».