FRANCISCO TARREGA Pepita
Guitar Techniques|February 2022
Declan Zapala brings you this upbeat polka, full of quintessential Spanish flavour, packed full of arpeggiated runs, punchy rhythms, and busy melodies to improve and refine your classical guitar skills.

Francisco de Asís Tárrega y Eixea, or ‘Quiquet’ (Frank) as his friends called him, was born November 21st, 1852, and had a somewhat complicated start in life after a traumatic incident as an infant left him partially blind. One version of this backstory published by his pupil, one Emilio Pujol, is he was thrown into a river and left for dead by his nursemaid. He was ultimately saved by neighbours but the trauma left him with lifelong eye damage that he required surgery for, for the rest of his life.

Owing to this medical implication Tarrega’s journey into music started out with him learning piano and guitar exclusively with music tutors who were themselves blind. Tárrega quickly excelled at both, though his prodigious talent for guitar made him fall in love with the instrument to the point where he ran away from home as a teenager to be a travelling guitarist. His father subsequently found him and brought him home where he settled back into his music studies. As a young man Tárrega accepted a place at the Madrid Royal Conservatory to study guitar and piano. The guitar at the time was not yet established as a serious concert instrument so, like many other great players throughout the 19th and 20th century, it was necessary for them to learn a more ‘mainstream’ instrument so as to get their foot in the door. Tárrega’s situation was possibly Tárrega’s situation was possibly helped by the fact he commenced his studies on a superior instrument by the Spanish luthier Antonio de Torres; a luthier we all know well today (whether we realise it or not) as his 1812 Spanish guitar model became the standard Classical concert guitar design globally adopted by luthiers.

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