'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Monday, December 31, 2007

Be Inspired in 2008

As 2007 draws to a close, many of you will be reflecting on the year, and thinking about ways to change your lives in 2008.
So, I have found a couple of quotes, that hopefully will inspire everyone to fulfill their resolutions:

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."
Thomas Jefferson


"Simply seek happiness, and you are not likely to find it. Seek to create and love without regard to your happiness, and you will likely be happy much of the time."
Dr.M.Scott Peck - American psychiatrist.

We have an exciting, and challenging, year ahead.
Exciting in that there are a lot of projects underway, which will be revealed as the year goes on, but challenging as we face long periods of time apart, with Robin travelling to far flung places.
You'll have to keep checking in to find out where he is, and what he is up to, but for now, we wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Barrios, Miss Bimps and Milly, the Musical Dogs

We have decided that we have very musical dogs.
It isn't surprising really, since puppy hood they have grown up surrounded with all types of music.
This morning was a prime example.
Robin was practising in the music room and my faithful friends were by my side as I worked.
The music stopped, the dogs pricked their ears up, then Robin appeared, with guitar and sat down.
The dogs sat down.
Robin started to play.
He wanted to run through 'La Catedral' by Agustin Barrios, to an audience of one (which was me) and two Labradors.
Miss Bimps and Milly put their heads on their paws resigned to the fact that their morning walk was about to be delayed.

La Catedral is in three movements, Preludio, Andante Religioso and Allegre Solemne.
At the end of the fist movement I was spellbound and the dogs didn't move.
The second movement, still nothing.
At the end of the final movement both dogs got up, and did the nearest they could to clapping their paws, by wagging their tails and circling Robin as if they were rounding up a flock of sheep.
As they used to power of positive thinking to stalk their prey, Robin gave in to the pressure, put his guitar away, and took them for a walk.
But how did they know the piece had finished?
I can only assume that we have very knowledgeable and musical hounds...

Here they are, Miss Bimps:

and Milly:

Friday, December 28, 2007

The iPod nano and the Rehydrated Alien...

I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying the lull before the New Year festivities get under way.
We have had a great time and enjoyed a relaxing break, spending time with the family, and playing with all the new toys that have accumulated around the house.
Son number one is now the proud owner of an iPod nano, and I must say that I have been delighted with his choice of music.

As you would expect he has added the soundtrack for 'Doctor Who' and 'The Simpsons Movie', but, there are also many fantastic tracks, that I'm proud to say he has chosen.
The artists are diverse, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Cecilia Bartoli, Genesis, Green day, Santana, Tower of Power, Van Morrison and John Rutter, to name a few.
But I happened to notice one piece that has found its way on to the iPod, much to son's amusement, John Cooper Clarke, 'Evidently Chickentown', which, whilst not particularly suitable for a boy of 10, (although it is the cut version) it is an incredible poetic accomplishment.

Today alone he has requested 'Walton: Crown Imperial', oh, and of course, not only his Dad's 'Virtuoso', but, also his 'Concerto Primavera', but then it was composed for him.

We have also been enjoying a very generous gift of a voucher for iTunes. So far, Flora Purim has made her way to our collection, and we are enjoying the sound immensely.

Whilst we listen to 'the beats' as son number one now refers to his music..., I can also report that son number two received a triangle, which he did request on his Christmas list, and is now practicing daily...for lengthy periods.....

But now, I have to rehydrate an alien that we are currently growing in a test tube, another Christmas gift....

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sleigh Ride - Robin Hill

I'm taking a few days off over the Christmas period to spend some time with the family.
So, here is a Robin Hill special.
It's a jovial arrangement of 'Sleigh Ride' for your amusement.
Thank you to everyone, from all over the world, for your support over the last year, and, everyone at Hillhouse wishes you a very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Descant Singing - Hark The Herald...

Since I wrote this post a couple of days ago, I have had a lot of people searching for the descant voices in, 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!'.

So, I've had a look around YouTube, and found this rather nice version, with 'St.Paul's Cathedral Choir', to get you all in the festive mood.
The descant voices appear in the third verse, about 2 minutes 24 seconds in.

Enjoy and feel free to sing along.

Hark the Herald Angels sing

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Unusual Google Searches for Robin Hill

Robin has decided to start his Christmas shopping.
I wish him the very best of luck as he fights his way through the bear garden that any town and city will be today.
No, I really do wish him luck, as the only person he has to buy for, is me...

So, whilst he is out, I decided to make a list of 10 of the most unusual ways that people have come across this site, through google searches.
As I have written them is exactly as they appeared in the search, it amazes me that some of them found their way here!

In no particular order:

1) Mozart's dog
2) Pump it or dump it
3) Fava soup
4) Musicians have larger brains
5) Cat called Lovejoy
6) Jeckyll & Hill
7) Thatcher idiosyncrasies
8) If you can keep your head
9) Albert Einstein daydream theory of relativity
10)Home improvement blogspot

Strange but true, all these searches arrived at 'Life of a Musician' one way or another!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dowland and Dickens

We have now reached Friday and John Dowland continues to ring through the house. At least we have progressed from one or two bars to the entire piece.
I'm still at the stage of enjoying it, which is a relief, but then, I haven't actually been around much to hear it...

As far as the recording in the music room goes, it hasn't been the children that are the problem, but me.
Why is it that when you really try to do something quietly it just doesn't happen?
There I was walking past the room, or rather creeping, (I can tell the difference between practice and recording sounds coming from the room) when I dropped the 'phone and there was a dreadful clattering sound followed by silence from the music room.
The music just stopped.
The silence more deafening and menacing than any noise, so I beat a hasty retreat.
Only to find the same 'phone rang a total of three times in the next 20 minutes....

I think at this point Robin realised that he may have to revert to plan A and move the equipment back upstairs.

Meanwhile we have allowed ourselves some time to relax and have been thoroughly enjoying the BBC adaption of 'Oliver Twist'.
We have been so surprised to read a couple of highly critical reviews. As far as we are concerned the casting is excellent, with all the characters truly convincing.
The filming is beautifully done and one of its greatest strengths is the squalor, filth and general dinginess of Fagin's place, in contrast to the opulent radiance of Mr.Brownlow's Georgian town house.
The music also works very well, who would have thought of using an accordion and banjo, together, in a Dicken's drama?
The reason I'm mentioning it is that I feel it is easy to be critical, yet difficult to achieve such high standards, and in our opinion, the story has been vividly realised and is a welcome change to the mind numbing drivel that is usually on T.V.

We are also in the process of preparing a Christmas treat for you all, so, watch this space.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

John Dowland and a Man Possessed

Robin has become a man possessed.
He has re-found the music for a beautiful piece by John Dowland (1563-1626), 'Sir Henry Gifford's Almaine'.

The piece itself is superb, inspired, and has some very difficult acrobatic work, for the left hand in particular.
Anyone who can conceive of such a piece must have been an outstanding player.

Dowland was a contemporary of Shakespeare, and you can get a real sense of the times whist listening to it.

Some of the ideas in the variations on the theme are very adventurous harmonically, and would have originally been played on the lute.
To achieve a similar effect, Robin plays with a capo at the third fret.

When I say possessed, I do mean possessed.
I can't walk past the music room without him calling out, "Come and listen to this bit", and as I try to sidle past unnoticed, he adds, "I know you're there".

This is what happens to a musician when they fall in love with a piece of music all over again.
Every note is analysed, and a process of interpreting the music commences.
Then there's the fingering.
"Does this sound better, or this?"

Many hours are given over to finding the most economical positioning to enable the piece to flow smoothly.

Meanwhile, the rest of us in the house, have a crash course in Dowland and all things connected.
But that's OK, it's all very interesting, and luckily I love the music of Dowland.
Ask me again by the end of the week though, when I've heard the same piece for 3 days, and none of the pre-Christmas jobs have been dealt with as Dowland has intervened....

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Digital World

I came across this article, 'Diving into the digital', by George Varga of 'The San Diego Union Tribune'.

It's an interesting read for us, particularly today, as I have been preparing a new CD, of Robin with his jazz quartet, to be released on CD Baby very soon. More details will follow shortly.

The article discusses the changing face of music distribution, for both the industry itself, and for musicians.
There has been such a change over the last few years that at times it's hard to keep up with it all.
Sites such as CD Baby, iTunes, YouTube, MySpace, and many others, have resulted in a lifestyle change for listeners, and for the artists.

Musicians can no longer rely on record companies to distribute their music, and have to nurture their fan base in a very different way.

The article has many interesting points and it's worth having a look, plus, there are a few thoughts from Sir Paul McCartney.

In some ways digital downloads make life easier for the musician, but, caution is required.
Radiohead's recent experience is rather frightening.
1 million fans ordered their new album in the 10 days prior to release, but paid nothing. Whilst 500 000 fans downloaded it for free from illegal sites, even though they could get it free from Radiohead's own site.
This is a disturbing situation.

Maybe this is a reflection of society.
Everyone wants something for nothing, but we should beware.
Musicians need to make a living.
If their music continues to be 'stolen' in this way, then how are they supposed to survive?

We have had this conversation with many people over the years. It's surprising how frequently people really don't think they are doing anything wrong.
When we have tried to explain, they often reply, "Well, I'm a student, I don't have much money", to which our response is, "Is that what you would say in a shop as you helped yourself to their wares?"

Whatever their reasoning, the general public need to realise that the music they listen to, is created by someone, who needs to pay the bills in just the same way that they do...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

It has been a busy and very festive week here.
As son number two has now started school, we had a nativity to attend, in which he played a very brightly shining star.
Son number one has also had a busy schedule with the school choir.
Nerves were in tatters as we waited for his junior school concert, as he was reserve soloist for 'Once in Royal David's City'.
We watched the health of the main chorister over the week, and as it became apparent that he was fit and well, son number one could relax.
It did mean we had excellent seats for the performance though, and it was a wonderful evening.

Also, the same son had been asked, with a number of other choir members, to join the senior school this year for their Christmas service, in order to supplement the descant section.
Again, this was a fantastic event, there's nothing like good choir singing beautifully to really get you in the festive mood.

The descant voices came into their own in 'Hark! The Herold Angels Sing!', in one of the most popular arrangements of this piece by Sir David Willcocks in which the descants are added in the third verse.
Originally the lyrics were written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley, who founded the Methodist Church in 1739.
But initially it was sung to a different tune, and it wasn't until 100 years later that Felix Mendelssohn composed a Cantata, in 1840, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press.
The English musician William Cummings then adapted the music to fit the lyrics already written.

Strange really, as Mendelssohn had requested the music not be used for any religious events, but, as was practice at the time, his wishes were obviously ignored!
I'm very pleased they were, as it is such a moving occasion to observe all those freshly scrubbed, youthful and innocent faces, singing so enthusiastically.

Then there was the Christmas Fair, and, not to mention helping out at the infants Christmas party, in which 200 very excited, and very loud, small children awaited the arrival of one 'Father Christmas'...

Whilst all this has been going on Robin has continued with his recording. He has, however, made a change to his positioning.
He has moved from the studio, which is quite separate from the rest of the house, to try out the music room.
The sound is better, and warmer, but the concern is that this is on the ground floor of the house, opposite the front door, next to the kitchen, and not far from the lounge.
School breaks up on Tuesday, so this could make for some interesting recording...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Listen To The Music

Ivan Hewett has written an interesting article, 'Open your ears and let the magic in', which is worth reading.
The general gist is highlighting the importance of really listening to music and giving it our full attention.

The report was prompted after 'hearing' some youths 'listening' to music through their mobile 'phones, and realising just how dreadful the sound actually is.

As Hewett says, "When listening intently sounds and music take on a special glow. When mingled with the world's noise and bustle, they shrink down to just another annoying distraction that has to be filtered out if we want to hang on to our sanity." Well said.

From a musician's point of view, sound quality is all important. Such a lot of time and effort goes into creating the best possible sound from your instrument, which isn't an easy process in the recording studio, especially for the guitar.

Listening to music intently is something we are very used to in our house.
Especially at the moment.
As Robin records another track for the new CD, each piece is scrutinized and agonized over.
Has the sound been captured?
Does it have the right feel?
Are there any extraneous noises?

This is a long process which requires many, many takes of each track to get it just as Robin wants it.
I'm sure it is the same for most musicians.

People listen to music in different ways.
They may have sit down purely to listen, or, in the background whilst socialising.
For Robin, a life time of dedication to music makes it very difficult for him to join in a conversation when music is on in the background, as his ear is naturally drawn to the music.
If we play music at home it is to listen to, not to supplement an atmosphere. If we have friends round for a meal, naturally we will play music, but invariably the conversation is drawn to the piece currently playing.
Years of intense listening seem to have affected our ability to 'filter out' the sound.

But we do realise that often people want to listen in this way and that is fine.
But do take the time to sit back and 'really' listen to music. The benefits are incredible.
You will 'hear' so much more than you initially realised was there.
Apart from that, we owe it to our musicians to listen to the music in which they have invested so much time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who is the Mystery Blogger?

So far there has been a lot of interest in the new 'Robin Hill' site which is excellent news.
We have even had a comment in the guest book.

I have also had an email requesting a wedding photo to be added to the gallery as no-one out there knows what I look like.

So who is this mystery blogger?
Lets look at the facts.
You know my name is Anna.
You know I'm the wife of a musician.
You can even see my legs in this previous blog, 'Dogged Devotion to J.S.Bach', when I was going through a Hitchcockian phase.

But am I ready to reveal the true identity of the mysterious 'wife of a musician'?
Well, OK, here's a picture of me taken a few months ago:

I should explain that at the time of this picture I was feeling a little ratty.....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Robin Hill's New Site - Download Sheet Music for 'Return to Islay'

We are very pleased to announce the launch of a new site today, 'Robin Hill', which has many exciting features.

You can access this blog, read all about Robin in his biography, look at a few pictures in the gallery, watch some videos, and, feel free to leave a message in the guest book!

One of the most exciting aspects is the store.
For more than 30 years Robin has arranged, and composed, many pieces for solo guitar, duo guitar, guitar and flute, orchestra and original compositions.
We have literally hundreds of scores to hand.
So, we have decided to gradually add them to the site, so any aspiring guitarists can download the piece of their choice, and start some serious practice.

This will be a gradual process and I'll update as we go along and inform you of any new pieces we have added.

We have started with one of Robin's most popular solo guitar pieces, 'Return to Islay', so the sheet music is now available to download. In fact, in various parts of the world, people have already done so!

We are often asked if Robin's music is available in tablature form. So, due to popular demand, he is arranging each piece, so you will have normal notation, with fingering, and tablature.
That's why the pieces will be appearing gradually, but you can't play them all at once anyway...

As I have severe technophobic tendencies, I would like to add that all this couldn't have been achieved without the help of our friend, Andre.
So thank you Andre!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Led Zeppelin Review and Robin Hill on Electric Guitar

Led Zeppelin have reformed for a 'one off' reunion gig which has gone down a storm.
So successful was it that there are rumours that more will follow.
To read an ecstatic review, by David Cheal, of their concert at the O2 arena, here it is, 'Led Zeppelin: Then it got better still'.

This was enough to prompt us to play 'Good Times Bad Times', from Led Zeppelin 1, a favourite of Robin's as it has Jimmy Page playing some triplet scales, ascending and descending, which was quite unusual at the time it was recorded.
We thoroughly enjoyed listening to it and I hope our neighbours did too...

If you have found yourself on this site due to the references to Led Zeppelin, then you may be interested to see that some classical musicians do have the ability to play rock.
Check out these links from previous blog entries I have made of Robin playing electric guitar with various groups over the years.
First, 'Palace of the Kings', with Ian Paice, Jon Lord, Maggie Bell and Paul Martinez.

Then there's, 'Wizard of Waukesha' with his band 'Hooper'.

Or maybe, 'Fast Forward', again with 'Hooper', this time playing his Travis Bean guitar.

Finally, there's another band of Robin's, 'Force 10', here you can read all about them and follow the links for more playing.

So, some players have many facets to their musical character...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Robin Hill plays Agustin Barrios

The final track to discuss on 'Virtuoso' is track 16, 'Villancico de Navidad' , by Agustin Barrios.
I saved this one until the end to get you all in a festive mood as it is an arrangement of a Paraguayan Christmas song.

Agustin Barrios (1885-1944) was born in San Bautista de las Misiones, Paraguay, and was a guitarist and composer.
In 1910 he left Paraguay for a week of concerts in Argentina but was so successful that he was away for 14 years playing in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.
I do hope that Robin doesn't do the same thing...

By 1934 Barrios travelled to Europe where he gave concerts in Brussels, Germany and Spain, and in 1936 he returned to Latin America where he taught in the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica, San Salvador.

Barrios composed over 100 works, many attributed to obscure European composers, as he believed they would be taken more seriously.
He's not alone in this practice, somewhere out there is a piece of music played on two guitars, by the composer 'Anna Naneek'.
I'll give you a clue, my maiden name was Keenan, and so far, only one person has spotted this...

Barrios is thought to be the first classical guitarist to make a record, in 1910, and also to have played a complete Bach Suite (Lute Suite No.1).
He was quite a character and in the later stages of his career he reinvented himself as 'Nitsuga Barrios Mangore', the Paganini from the jungles of Paraguay, and appeared on stage in full South American Indian costume!

Thankfully, as Robin is from Huddersfield, I can't think of any national dress that he may choose to wear on stage, and anyway my needlework skills would probably not be up to it.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Stockhausen, Stravinsky and Danza Brasilera

The influential yet controversial German Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has died. You can read about his life, in one of many obituaries, here.

On a lighter note we enjoyed a fabulous evening yesterday watching the London Symphony Orchestra, with their Principle conductor, Valery Gergiev.
Unfortunately we weren't actually there but BBC4 aired the first of three concerts by the LSO.
It was a fantastic programme with classic works by Debussy and Prokofiev, but the highlight of the evening was Stravinsky's, 'The Rite of Spring'.
Gergiev is a flamboyant conductor and a delight to observe, and he managed to get every last ounce (or should that be milligramme?) out of each and every musician.

If you get the chance to see him at work be sure to take it.

'Danza Brasilera', is track 6 on 'Virtuoso', and is a wonderful samba by the Argentinian guitarist and composer, Jorge Morel.
Robin has added his own introduction but the rest of the piece is as the original.

Friday, December 07, 2007

"The Divine Giuliani" - Beethoven

Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) was born near Bari and was an Italian guitar virtuoso and composer.
He studied the cello and counterpoint, but the six-string guitar became his principle instrument early in life.
Earlier the five string guitar, known as a 'French guitar' was popular, but the instrument lagged behind the more popular lute and mandora. Once the sixth string was added, bottom E, the 'modern' guitar could at last reach the rank that the mandora had held in the musical world.

There were many fine guitarists in Italy at the beginning of the 19th century (Agliati, Carulli, Gragnani, Nava, etc), but many moved north in order to make a living.
Public interest at the time lay with opera and the guitar was seen as an accompaniment instrument. Giuliani did in fact write many works for voice and guitar throughout his life.
At this stage Italy didn't reward the talented individuals who chose to play the guitar as a solo chamber instrument.
Also, the sound level of a classical guitar circa 1800 was diminutive compared to other contemporary instruments, therefore making it difficult to be heard in the typical Italian theatre.
There was also widespread political instability at the time causing many conservatories to close, and along with a lack of competent publishing houses, there were enough reasons for Giuliani, and many others, to leave.
He settled in Vienna in 1806 and quickly became famous as the greatest living guitarist and a notable composer.

In 1808 Giuliani gave the premiere of his guitar concerto, with full orchestra, to great public acclaim.
From then on he led the classical guitar movement in Vienna, teaching, performing and composing a huge number of works for the guitar.

Giuliani moved in elite circles, in 1813 he played the cello in the premiere of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, in the company of Hummel, Mayseder and Spohr.

Giuliani had two talented children, Michel, who became a 'professeur de chant' at the Paris Conservatoire, and Emilia, who was also a famous guitar virtuoso and composer.

'Esercizio' by Giuliani, track 20 on 'Virtuoso', is, as it says, an exercise, or study. But like all the best studies it has huge musical value and isn't purely concerned with the mechanical aspects of playing the guitar.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

It is a rare threat that Robin is home at the moment especially as it is our wedding anniversary today.
Luckily we appear to have a more positive approach to marriage than Gustav Mahler. He was quoted as saying:

"Both my marriages were failures! Number one departed and number two stayed."

After 16 years I think you can safely say we know each other pretty well.
I knew from the beginning that the guitar would always play a major part in our lives, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
As Leo Brouwer has said:

"The guitar is a jealous mistress, she will not love you if you don't spend time with her."

Fortunately I love the guitar as much as Robin - nearly, and the time he spends in practice has never been an issue.
The art of living with a musician is something I have frequently been asked about, and, over the last few months had a number of emails.
So I am currently working on a series of blogs for the near future to cover this area.
But for now we shall just celebrate the day.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

'Yesterday' and Robin Hill

'Yesterday' by Lennon and McCartney has to be one of the most well known songs ever recorded.
The song was written by Paul McCartney after the music came to him in a dream. He then used the words 'scrambled eggs' until he later worked out the lyrics!

This version of 'Yesterday', is an arrangement of Robin's, for two guitars, and is track 9 on Virtuoso.
Over the years the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo have recorded many Beatles tracks, which they always arranged themselves.
Often they would add little musical quotes from other well known songs, somewhere in the arrangement, and we have often wondered if anyone noticed them. Some are more obvious than others, and they aren't necessarily from other Beatles songs.

There is in fact one in 'Yesterday', but you would have to hear the whole track, to see if you could identify the musical quip.
Can anyone spot it?

Other news, there was an interesting article in the Telegraph today, by Simon Heffer.
Heffer gives an excellent review of a new film about the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. It sounds like it will be well worth watching, and you can see it in the UK on Channel 5 on January 1st. As the film is three hours long it should give you plenty of time to recover from any overindulgence the night before.
If you can't wait until then to see it, it's available on DVD form tomorrow, at,

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Xodo da Baiana - Dilermando Reis

'Xodo da Baiana' by Dilermando Reis is another piece on Virtuoso, track 19, with a truly South American feel.

Dilermando Reis, (1916-1977) was a Brazilian guitarist born in Sao Paulo. He studied the guitar from an early age with his father, Francisco Reis, and by the age of 15, Dilermando was already known as the best guitarist in Sao Paulo.

By 1933 Reis had moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he lived for most of his life, and was prolific in recording over 40 albums.
He enjoyed many kinds of music and recorded pieces from composers as diverse as Bach, Barrios, Tarrega and Gnatalli, among others.
However his first love was for the traditional Brazilian style of music, featuring mainly waltzes and choros full of melodic invention, syncopated rhythms and pleasing modulations.

He was equally prolific as a composer with over 100 of his own compositions, many of which have become standards of Brazilian guitar playing.

'Xodo da Baiana' is typical of his style.
The use of pizzicato in the opening section is highly effective and overall the piece combines melodic and rhythmic invention.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Robin Hill and 'Recuerdos de la Alhambra'

'Recuerdos de la Alhambra' is the 18th track on 'Virtuoso' and was composed by Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909).
Tarrega was born in Villarreal, Spain, but as a child had an accident, fell into an irrigation channel and permanently damaged his eyes.
His parents were concerned that he may loose his sight completely, so, they moved to Castellon, so that Francisco could take music lessons and would therefore be able to work as a musician if he did go blind.
Thankfully he didn't lose his sight but he did become a highly influential musician.

When Tarrega began his studies on the guitar, the instrument was at a low ebb throughout Europe, overshadowed by the louder and more resonant piano.
So Tarrega's father insisted he learn both instruments, in which he quickly became accomplished, in order to keep his options open.

It was in 1869 when Tarrega acquired an unusually loud and resonant guitar, made by Antonio Torres, the famous luthier, that Tarrega was able to prepare the way for the rebirth of the guitar in the 20th Century.

Tarrega transcribed many works for guitar by Spanish composers Albeniz and Granados, along with adapting movements from Beethoven's piano sonatas and many preludes of Chopin.
In all, Tarrega composed approximately 78 original works and 120 transcriptions for solo guitar, along with 21 transcriptions for two guitars. He also composed many varied and extremely taxing exercises which have tormented generations of guitarists ever since but which are extremely effective in the development of technique.

Recuerdos de la Alhambra was composed around the turn of the century. The theme was conceived on a visit to Grenada and the music is evocative of the famous Moorish palace there.
The piece is a tremelo study which requires great technical ability. To maintain a fluent and smooth tremelo, whilst executing clear accompanying notes, and also conveying the emotion of the piece, is not an easy task.

Robin is often asked if his hands ache after playing a piece like this. But years of right and left hand exercises have ensured he is quite able to maintain the tremelo for the required 3 minutes and 16 seconds on this recording. In fact, just like any athlete, the training is all important, so when it comes to the event itself, you really don't consider finger fatigue!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Genius...a Bit of Fun

Well our busy weekend has nearly come to an end, and, as expected, I have had to put on my 'kid gloves' to deal with the younger generation in Hillhouse...
We have survived though, and, Robin has been working hard, so we shouldn't complain.

A lot of blogs have been taking the 'blog readability' test, which up to now I hadn't got round to.
But, last night, whilst waiting for Robin to come home, I decided to have a go.
This is what it came up with:

cash advance

So congratulations to all our regular readers for being so intelligent!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

'Rakes of Kildare' - Robin Hill

Track 17 on 'Virtuoso' is 'Rakes of Kildare', which is a traditional, lively and well known Irish jig.
It is difficult to know for sure the background of the piece and title, but, 'Rakes' could be short for 'rakehell' which stems from the Icelandic word 'reikall' meaning 'wandering or unsettled'.
But 'Rakes' also refers to stylish and spirited young men, whilst 'Kildare' can mean 'Church of the Oaks'.

Whatever the meaning of the title, the piece is a double jig in the Dorian mode.
The version heard here is for guitar and orchestra, one of the movements from Robin's 'Celtic Concerto'.