Andrés Segovia’s Compositions Are Celebrated—on the Master’s Guitar

October 12th, 2016

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Within a few minutes, it was clear to Tennant that he’d found the guitar with which he could record that album of Segovia pieces he’d started thinking about years before. But who would put the album out? Tennant got in touch with Marcelo Kayath, one of the principals of a Brazilian-based website/record label called GuitarCoop. The two men first met in 1984 at a guitar competition (Kayath came in first, Tennant second), and they’ve been friends ever since.

Kayath’s back story is worth an article in itself. A vaunted classical guitarist in his youth, he gave up the profession at 24, got his MBA at Stanford, and in time became a high-ranking executive at Credit Suisse in Brazil. Between 2005 and 2012 alone, he oversaw more than 60 IPOs that raised a combined $17 billion. Less than a year ago, at 52, he retired from banking and is now once again devoting his life to musical endeavors. “Finance,” he says, “is incredibly easy compared to playing the guitar.”

Kayath loved the Segovia album concept and suggested that Tennant come to Brazil for the recording. But fate intervened: The Ramírez at GSI got sold. “This one guy hammered us relentlessly to buy it,” Collett says, “and just wouldn’t take no for an answer. But we knew we had to hang on to the guitar so Scott could complete his project. Segovia’s been gone now nearly 30 years [he died in 1987]; he’s becoming a shadow today, and we need to retell his story. So we made a deal. The guitar was purchased, but the buyer agreed to wait until we were ready to hand it over to him.”

Now that the guitar was someone else’s property, Tennant no longer thought it advisable to take it out of the country. “If something were to happen to it, I’d be that guy who had it when it disappeared,” he says. The album, therefore, would have to be recorded in California. However, that would be a more expensive proposition for GuitarCoop. And so Kayath reached out to the most appropriate potential sponsor he could think of: Augustine Strings, a company that had, in close consultation with Segovia, developed the first marketable nylon guitar string in the Forties. (Luthier and company founder Albert Augustine had begun experimenting with nylon during World War II, when traditional gut strings became hard to acquire. Seeing promise in this new material, Segovia helped Augustine connect with nylon manufacturers at DuPont and became one of his main product testers.)

Kayath’s instincts were correct. Augustine agreed to sponsor the project—provided, of course, that the Ramírez would be strung with Augustine Classic/Blacks and Regal/Reds, Segovia’s preferred types. The next consideration was material. With help from fellow Segovia disciple Michael Lorimer, Tennant compiled a master list of all of Segovia’s known compositions. Several proved impossible to find, so Collett contacted Angelo Gilardino, Segovia’s archivist in Italy, in hope of tracking them down. “Within days,” Collett says, “Angelo had sent Scott all the pieces we’d asked about, and six new ones besides.”

Gilardino also alerted them to the existence of another “new one,” which had long seemed more a rumor than an actual composition. “Fandango de la Madrugada” (Fandango of the Dawn) was written in 1945 while Segovia was living in Montevideo, Uruguay, with the pianist Paquita Madriguera. He’d apparently played it once or twice in concert, then gave the piece to his companion. Two years later, their relationship fell apart and Segovia departed abruptly for New York, leaving behind many possessions, including three guitars and the “Fandango” manuscript…

This is a feature from the November/December 2016 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine. For this complete story and more photos, plus features on actor Kiefer Sutherland and his debut country-rock album, Jerry Garcia’s famed Doug Irwin Tiger and its encore appearance with Warren Haynes and the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration, electric guitar pioneer Charlie Christian and his impact on the instrument’s importance, the annual Guitar Aficionado Holiday Gift Guide and much more, pick up the new issue of Guitar Aficionado at your newsstand, or online by clicking anywhere in this text.

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