Narciso Yepes

Narciso Yepes

Narciso Yepes (November 14, 1927 – May 3, 1997) was a Spanish guitarist.



Yepes was born into a family of humble origin in Lorca, Region of Murcia. His father gave him his first guitar when he was four years old. He took his first lessons from Jesus Guevara, in Lorca. Later his family moved to Valencia when the Spanish Civil War started in 1936.

When he was 13, he was accepted to study at the Conservatorio de Valencia with the pianist and composer Vicente Asencio. Here he followed courses in harmony, composition, and performance.

On December 16, 1947 he made his Madrid début, performing Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with Ataúlfo Argenta conducting the Spanish National Orchestra. The overwhelming success of this performance brought him renown from critics and public alike. Soon afterwards, he began to tour with Argenta, visiting Switzerland, Italy, Germany and France. During this time he was largely responsible for the growing popularity of the Concierto de Aranjuez.

"A very young Narciso Yepes - not yet enlightened by Argenta's lessons, but surely capable of occupying the hot seat with dignity - gave at least one public performance of "Aranjuez" on 1948" [1]
"[...] great Spanish conductor Ataulfo Argenta (1913-1958).[...] He associated Yepes to his project and he taught the guitarist how to perform Aranjuez note by note. Yepes was humble and intelligent enough to do exactly what Argenta had asked him to do. It was only after that historical recording that Aranjuez became a famous piece, and Yepes an even more famous guitarist." [2]
"Argenta played the shapes at the piano and the guitarist absorbed them with his skilfullness." [3]
"I refer to the interpretation of the piece: in order to have the solo part performed with full consistency to his views (and to the orchestra) Argenta took Yepes under a thorough instruction and he was able to get from him the best. I never implied that Yepes couldn't read pieces himself - he had been given basic music instruction by the composer Vicente Asencio, who had added a lot of knowledge to the rather amateurish musical instruction Yepes had got from his former teacher, the guitarist Estanislao Marco." [4]

In 1950, after performing in Paris, he spent a year studying interpretation under the violinist George Enescu, and the pianist Walter Gieseking. He also studied informally with Nadia Boulanger. This was followed by a long period in Italy where he profited from contact with artists of every kind.

On May 18, 1951, as he leant on the parapet of a bridge in Paris and watched the Seine flow by, Yepes unexpectedly heard a voice inside him ask, "What are you doing?" He had been an unbeliever for 25 years, perfectly content that there was no God or transcendence or afterlife. But that existential question, which he understood as God's call, changed everything for him. He became a devout Catholic, which he remained for the rest of his life.[1]

In 1952 a work (Romance), Yepes claims to have written when he was a young boy[2], became the theme to the film Forbidden Games (Jeux interdits) by René Clément. Despite the fact that Yepes confessed to being its composer, the piece (Romance) has often been attributed to other authors; indeed published versions exist from before Yepes was even born, and the earliest known recording of the work dates from a cylinder from around 1900[3]. In the credits of the film Jeux Interdits, however, Romance is credited as "Traditional: arranged - Narciso Yepes." Yepes also performed other pieces for the Forbidden Games soundtrack. His later credits as film composer include the soundtracks to La Fille aux yeux d'or (1961) and La viuda del capitán Estrada (1991). He also starred as a musician in the 1967 film version of El amor brujo.

In Paris he met Marysia Szumlakowska, a young Polish philosophy student. They married in 1958 and had two sons, Juan de la Cruz (deceased), Ignacio Yepes, an orchestral conductor and flautist, and one daughter, Ana Yepes, a dancer and choreographer.[4]

In 1964, Yepes performed the Concierto de Aranjuez with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, premièring the ten-string guitar, which he invented in collaboration with the renowned guitar maker José Ramírez III[5].

Yepes' 10-string guitar tuning

The instrument made it possible to transcribe works originally written for baroque lute without deleterious transposition of the bass notes. However, the main reason for the invention of this instrument was the addition of string resonators tuned to C, A#, G#, F#, which resulted in the first guitar with truly chromatic string resonance - similar to that of the piano with its sustain/pedal mechanism.

After 1964, Yepes used the ten-string guitar exclusively, touring all six inhabited continents, performing in recitals as well as with the world's leading orchestras, giving an average of 130 performances each year.

Apart from being a consummate musician, Yepes was also a significant scholar. His research into forgotten manuscripts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries resulted in the rediscovery of numerous works for guitar or lute. He was also the first person to record the complete lute works of Bach on period instruments (14-course baroque lute). In addition, through his patient and intensive study of his instrument, Narciso Yepes developed a revolutionary technique and previously unsuspected resources and possibilities.

He was granted many official honours including the Gold Medal for Distinction in Arts, conferred by King Juan Carlos I; membership in the Academy of “Alfonso X el Sabio” and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Murcia. In 1986 he was awarded the Premio Nacional de Música of Spain, and he was elected unanimously to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando[6].

In the 1980s, Yepes formed Trio Yepes with his son Ignacio Yepes on flute and recorder and his daughter Ana dancing to her own choreography.

After 1993, Narcisco Yepes limited his public appearances due to illness. He gave his last concert on March 1, 1996, in Santander (Spain).

He died in Murcia in 1997, after a long battle with lymphoma.

Press quotes

Positive and negative reviews of Yepes' performances, as with any artist, can be found:


  • "Narciso Yepes gave a most delicate account of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. The range of timbres he can produce, to contrast phrases and to shape them, is astonishing . . . The work is not worthy of such playing." (Paul Griffiths [author on new music, writer, librettist, critic] 1974, The Times, London, 6 Nov., p. 11)
  • "Mr. Yepes' playing was distinguished by its clarity of detail, particularly in the ornaments, and facility of the passage-work. He was also able to sustain contrapuntal lines by some devilish trick, and he used color, not like Segovia, for its sensual appeal, but to help underline phrases and structural details ... Yepes had poetry and power in large measure and flexibility of rhythm that was a total contradiction to the tight beat he kept. Mr. Yepes' startling performing magnetism is a natural product of his technical mastery..." (Musical America)
  • "With a rare intelligence and sensibility, Narciso Yepes conveyed to his audience that powerful silencing of all the critical spirit that only really great performers can bestow." (Le Soir, Brussels)
  • "Such incomparable artistry, coupled with staggering technical virtuosity, is rare among artists today." (Records and Recordings)
  • "Yepes is more than a brilliant virtuoso and more than a consummate musician ... he is a magician who needs no more than a rhythm or a chord to bring all under his power." (Aux Écoutes, Paris)
  • "He is a consummate technician and a knowledgeable interpreter in a variety of guitar idioms, from the Renaissance and Baroque to the Modern ... His attributes as a well-disciplined master of the guitar are of the first rank." (The New York Times)
  • "Other fine guitarists have visited Japan, but none of them, not even Segovia, revealed such delicacy and beauty in the instrument." (Sankei Shinbun, Tokyo)
  • "...We consider Yepes the most complete guitarist of our times." (El Mercurio, Santiago de Chile)
  • "An admirable musician, a master of his instrument ... his interpretations are solidly built up and are not affected by the slightest trace of sentiment ... The audience showed their enthusiasm by their eager and well-deserved applause and foot-stomping. Certainly merited". (Journal de Genève, Geneva)
  • "His musical personality is of the widest possible scope. It took no more than three opening pieces to establish Mr. Yepes as a vibrant, sensual, searching and highly articulate performer". (New York Herald Tribune)


  • "Compared with the more flowing style of his older contemporary, Andres Segovia [...], Mr. Yepes's style could sound oddly clipped, yet his admirers pointed out that his approach allowed counterpoint to emerge with a clarity unusual on the guitar." (THE NEW YORK TIMES; Narciso Yepes, Spanish Guitarist And an Innovative Musician, 69; Allan Kozinn; May 4, 1997)
  • "Yepes is, of course, a thoroughly accomplished performer, but in this repertory he seems a bit too cool and, at times, even mechanical. Certainly his account of the famous Chaconne, if more rhythmically stable than Segovia's, has none of the rich panoply of colors that Segovia produced. Then, too, the three-note figurations that comprise the E Prelude are plucked out with a stiff rigidity lacking the nuance and legato phrasing that Julian Bream [...]" (Fanfare, 1984; Joel Flegler)
  • "Yepes, for all his wonderful technique, seems quite removed from the music." (The Music journal, 1969; University of Michigan)
  • "[...] [other guitarist's] exciting and perceptive performances of the lute works, which were recorded between 1981 and 1984, are light years better than the stilted, drab, and often utterly stillborn interpretations of Narciso Yepes, who does not sound by any means comfortable playing the lute." (American record guide; 1984)
  • "Spanish guitarist Narciso Yepes (1927-97) was one of the oddest high-profile players active in the second half of the century. He adhered to no school and seems to have had few followers. His playing on his numerous Deutsche Grammophon recordings is almost always inexplicably quirky, with crisp, staccato articulation, square phrasing, metronomic rhythms, and interpretations that can be eerily devoid of expression." (American Record Guide; Steven Rings; 1 September 2001)
  • "The Yepes interpretive hallmarks are all here: crisp articulation, square phrasing, and metronomic regularity. It always struck me as very odd that this elder statesman among Spanish guitarists could produce such mannered and stiff renditions of these Iberian favorites. It seems almost as though Yepes deliberately sought to position himself as the antidote to Segovian excesses. [...]
    But the guitar world is richer for having had a Yepes. Such polar opposites stir things up and encourage critical reappraisals of interpretive traditions.
    [...] his approach just falls flat, as in most of the other Spanish standards by Albeniz, Granados, and company. Yepes often seems determined to make this music neither exciting nor romantic.
    [...] if you are interested in building your library, there are dozens of other recordings of this standard fare that you would be better off with." (American Record Guide; Steven Rings; 1 September 2003)
  • "Narciso Yepes is a clean-fingered (though not infallible) player with a rather academic approach" (The Gramophone; Compton Mackenzie, Christopher Stone; 1954)
  • "Respectfully, I cannot place Yepes on the same level with Segovia and Bream." (Angelo Gilardino, Guitar Review, Issue 115/Winter 1999)
  • "controversially different" (The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians)
  • "The Spaniard Narciso Yepes, now, is famous, as much for his occasional lapses as for his occasional excellences. Both sides of Yepes are usually on display" (American record guide, 1986)
  • "Yepes can be downright unmusical in his pedantic interpretations of some pieces [...], yet stunning - musically and technically - in other pieces." (Classical Music: The Listener's Companion by Alexander J. Morin, Harold C. Schonberg; ISBN 0879306386)
  • "The suite by Falckenhagen and the two Scarlatti sonata transcriptions - both clean and cool in their symmetry - seemed burdened to the point of stumbling by Mr. Yepes's rhapsodic pauses and surges. [...] In three Villa-Lobos studies, however, Mr. Yepes's generosity of phrase found sympathetic and grateful recipients [...]" (THE NEW YORK TIMES; Music Noted in Brief; Narciso Yepes Plays A Guitar Recital at Met; Bernard Holland; November 10, 1986)
  • "In meiner Jugend in den Siebzigern war die „Hifi Stereophonie” das absolute Flaggschiff der gehobenen Musikrezension und eine wichtige Quelle der Information in meinem Klassik geneigten Umfeld. ... Als ich die 12 Etudes von Villa-Lobos zu spielen begann, kaufte ich von meinem schmalen Taschengeld jene Aufnahme von Narciso Yepes, die in nämlichem Blatt in allen Kriterien die Höchstbewertung erhalten hatte und als ewige Referenz bejubelt worden war. Und was hörte ich dann? Ein schon für meine damalige völlig ungebildete Wahrnehmung musikbeamtenhaft herunterbuchstabierte hölzern uninspirierte Pflichtübung ..." (Prof. Frank Bungarten; Pressto 1.2007 (German)
  • Wenn es nur die Wahl des Instruments wäre, müsste man heute Narciso Yepes neben Gustav Leonhardt und Nikolaus Harnoncourt als Pionier der Alten Musik nennen, denn er hat ja das Bach’sche Lautenwerk auf einer Barocklaute aufgenommen ... eine mehr als peinliche Aufnahme bei der Archiv-Produktion (2708030) übrigens, die nie wieder neu aufgelegt worden ist, weil man sich ihrer offenbar schämte. Diese Produktion auf zwei Vinyl-Schallplatten ist auch noch gut besprochen worden, weil Yepes als Gitarrist ein bekannter Mann war und seine Meriten hatte und weil die Deutsche Grammophon mit ihrer Archiv-Produktion Garant für Qualität war. Aber sie beweist, dass die Benutzung eines historischen Instruments aus Musik noch keine Alte Musik macht. (Peter Päffgen; GITARRE & LAUTE XXX/2008/Nº 1) (German)

Recordings (partial)

Recordings at Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft

  • "La Fille aux Yeux d'Or" (original film soundtrack) (Fontana, 460.805)
  • "Narciso Yepes: Bacarisse/Torroba" (Concertos) (London, CCL 6001)
  • "Jeux Interdits" (Original film soundtrack) (London, Kl 320)
  • "Narciso Yepes: Recital" (London, CCL 6002)
  • "Falla/Rodrigo" (Concierto de Aranjuez) (London, CS 6046)
  • "Spanish Classical Guitar Music" (London, KL 303)
  • "Vivaldi/Bach/Palau" (Conciertos & Chaconne)(London, CS 6201)
  • "Guitar Recital: Vol. 2" (London, KL 304)
  • "Rodrigo/Ohana" (Concertos) (London, CS 6356)
  • "Guitar Recital: Vol. 3" (London, KL 305)
  • "The World of the Spanish Guitar Vol. 2" (London, STS 15306)
  • "Simplemente" (re-release of early recordings) (MusicBrokers, MBB 5191)
  • "Guitar Music Of Spain" (LP Contour cc7584)
  • "Recital Amerique Latine & Espagne" (Forlane, UCD 10907)
  • "Les Grands d'Espagne, Vol. 4" (Forlane, UM 3903)
  • "Les Grands d'Espagne, Vol. 5" (Forlane, UM 3907)
  • "Fernando Sor - 24 Etudes" (Deutsche Grammophon, 139 364)
  • "Spanische Gitarrenmusik aus fünf Jahrhunderten, Vol. 1" (Deutsche Grammophon, 139 365)
  • "Spanische Gitarrenmusik aus fünf Jahrhunderten, Vol. 2" (Deutsche Grammophon, 139 366)
  • "Joaquín Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez, Fantasía para un Gentilhombre" (Deutsche Grammophon, 139 440)
  • "Rendezvous mit Narciso Yepes" (Deutsche Grammophon, 2538 106)
  • "Luigi Boccerini: Gitarren-Quintette" (Deutsche Grammophon, 2530 069 & 429 512-2)
  • "J.S. Bach - S.L. Weiss" (Deutsche Grammophon, 2530 096)
  • "Heitor Villa-Lobos" (Deutsche Grammophon, 2530 140 & 423 700-2)
  • "Música Española" (Deutsche Grammophon, 2530 159)
  • "Antonio Vivaldi" (Concertos) (Deutsche Grammophon, 2530 211 & 429 528-2)
  • "Música Catalana" (Deutsche Grammophon, 2530 273)
  • "Guitarra Romantica" (Deutsche Grammophon, 2530 871)
  • "Johann Sebastian Bach: Werke für Laute" (Works for Lute - Complete Recording on Period Instruments) (Deutsche Grammophon, 2708 030)
  • "Francisco Tárrega" (Deutsche Grammophon, 410 655-2)
  • "Joaquín Rodrigo" (Guitar Solos) (Deutsche Grammophon, 419 620-2)
  • "Romance d'Amour" (Deutsche Grammophon, 423 699-2)
  • "Canciones españolas I" (Deutsche Grammophon, 435 849-2)
  • "Canciones españolas II" (Deutsche Grammophon, 435 850-2)
  • "Rodrigo/Bacarisse" (Concertos) (Deutsche Grammophon, 439 5262)
  • "Johann Sebastian Bach: Werke für Laute" (Works for Lute - Recording on Ten-String Guitar) (Deutsche Grammophon, 445 714-2 & 445 715-2)
  • "Rodrigo/Halffter/Castelnuovo-Tedesco" (Concertos) (Deutsche Grammophon, 449 098-2)
  • "Domenico Scarlatti: Sonatas" (Deutsche Grammophon, 457 325-2 & 413 783-2)
  • "Guitar Recital" (Deutsche Grammophon, 459 565-2)
  • "Asturias: Art of the Guitar" (Deutsche Grammophon, 459 613-2)
  • "Narciso Yepes" (Collectors Edition box set) (Deutsche Grammophon, 474 667-2 to 474 671-2)
  • "20th Century Guitar Works" (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • "Guitar Music of Five Centuries" (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • "G.P. Telemann" (Duos with Godelieve Monden) (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • "Guitar Duos" (with Godelieve Monden) (BMG)
  • "Leonardo Balada: Symphonies" ('Persistencies') (Albany, TROY474)

Works composed for or dedicated to Narciso Yepes (partial)

  • Concepción Lebrero: Remembranza de Juan de la Cruz
  • Estanislao Marco: Guajira
  • Tomás Marco: Concierto "Eco"
  • Joaquín Rodrigo: En los trigales (1939)
  • Manuel Palau: Concierto levantino
  • Manuel Palau: Ayer
  • Manuel Palau: Sonata
  • Salvador Bacarisse: Concertino in A-minor
  • Salvador Bacarisse: Suite
  • Salvador Bacarisse: Ballade
  • Maurice Ohana: Tiento (1955)
  • Maurice Ohana: Concerto "Trois Graphiques" (1950-7)
  • Maurice Ohana: Si le jou paraît... (1963)
  • Cristobal Halffter: Codex 1 (1963)
  • Leo Brouwer: Tarantos
  • alcides lanza: modulos I (1965)
  • Leonardo Balada: Guitar Concerto No. 1 (1965)
  • Antonio Ruiz-Pipó: Cinqo Movimientos (1965)
  • Antonio Ruiz-Pipó: Canciones y Danzas (1961)
  • Leonardo Balada: Analogías (1967)
  • Antonio Ruiz-Pipó: "Tablas" Concerto (1968-69/72)
  • Vicente Asencio: Collectici íntim (1970)
  • Vicente Asencio: Suite de Homenajes
  • Bruno Maderna: Y después (1971)
  • Leonardo Balada: "Persistencias" Sinfonía-concertante (1972)
  • Jorge Labrouve: Enigma op. 9 (1974)
  • Jorge Labrouve: Juex op. 12 (Concertino) (1975)
  • Luigi Donorà: Rito (1975)
  • Francisco Casanovas: La gata i el belitre
  • Miguel Ángel Cherubito: Suite popolar Argentina
  • José Peris: Elegía
  • Xavier Montsalvatge: Metamorfosis de Concierto (1980)
  • Xavier Montsalvatge: Fantasía para guitarra y arpa (1983)
  • Federico Mompou: Canço i dansa no. 13

External links





  1. ^ Urbano, Pilar (1988). "Interview with Narciso Yepes", Época, no. 147 (January 1988) (in Spanish)
  2. ^ Narciso Yepes speaks on Forbidden Games Romance
  3. ^ Romance (song)
  4. ^ Compagnie Ana Yepes
  5. ^ Ramirez III, Jose (1994), "The Ten-String Guitar" in Things About the Guitar, pp. 137-141.[ISBN 8487969402], Bold Strummer 
  6. ^ Narciso Yepes official website (in Spanish)

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См. также в других словарях:

  • Narciso Yepes — Narciso García Yepes[1] (* 14. November 1927 in Lorca; † 3. Mai 1997 in Murcia) war ein spanischer klassischer Gitarrist, Lautenist, Arrangeur und Komponist. Neben Andrés Segovia und Miguel Llobet gilt er als einer der größten Gitarristen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Narciso Yepes — Nacimiento 14 de noviembre de 1927   …   Wikipedia Español

  • Narciso Yepes — Narciso Yepes, guitariste espagnol (né à Lorca le 14 novembre 1927, mort à Murcie le 3 mai 1997). D une famille paysanne modeste, Narciso obtint une guitare et retrouve des airs populaires dès son jeune âge. Il étudia au… …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Yepes (surname) — Yepes is a surname, and may refer to:* Mario Yepes * Narciso Yepes * Tomás de Yepesee also* Yepes, Spanish town …   Wikipedia

  • Yepes — Bandera …   Wikipedia Español

  • Yepes — Yepes, Juan de Yepes, Narciso ► Mun. de la prov. española de Toledo; 4 360 h …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Yepes —   [ jepes], Narciso, spanischer Gitarrist, * Lorca 14. 11. 1927, ✝ Murcia 3. 5. 1997; debütierte 1947 mit dem spanischen Nationalorchester und spielte seit 1964 auf einem Instrument mit zehn (statt sechs) Saiten, auf dem auch ursprünglich für… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Yepes, Narciso Garcia — ▪ 1998       Spanish classical guitarist and composer who was known for both his brilliant technique and his interpretations and who designed a 10 string guitar to aid him in arranging music; his arrangements, compositions, and performance for… …   Universalium

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