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Reminiscing on Andrés Segovia

Philippe de Montebello with Andrés Segovia, 1986

Former Director Philippe de Montebello in the galleries with Andrés Segovia, 1986. Photograph © Richard Lombard

February 21 marks the birthday of classical guitarist Andrés Segovia (1893–1987). The Museum is home to two of his instruments—including the famed 1937 guitar made by Hermann Hauser, an instrument that Segovia called "the greatest guitar of our epoch."

In early 1986, I had the privilege of being invited to lunch with Maestro Segovia to help prepare for the donation and presentation of his guitars to the Met later that year. Nervous at the opportunity to meet a true musical genius and childhood hero, I was almost speechless during the hour and a half repast.

Segovia cheerfully filled the time with stories of his extensive travels, the guitar's universal appeal, people he played for and with, composers who wrote for him, and concerns about the continued interest in modern guitar studies. He told me how honored he and his wife, Emilita, were to present his precious instruments to the Museum—a thank you to New York City for helping to establish his career in 1927.

Of course, it has been our honor to be able to showcase his historic instruments for an international audience of makers, players, and Segovia fans. In the end, he needn't have worried about his legacy, as the classical guitar is studied now more than ever.


Related Link
Explore the guitar built for Segovia by Hermann Hauser in Jayson Kerr Dobney's 82nd and Fifth episode, "String Theory."

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