On this website, in real life, and everywhere else, I constantly hear about Metal, Rock or Blues guitarists. I listen to these guitarists, but I don't hear other names quite as often. This article is a list of guitarists from genres like Classical, Jazz, Mexican or Folk music, who played notable roles in the music of the guitar.
Agustin Barrios Mangore - Barrios was a classical guitarist born in Paraguay in 1885. At the age of seven, he learned to play the guitar. His love for music and poetry grew, and he later attended a university in Paraguay. He studied the structure of music, and also mathematics and literature.
He is known mainly for his composing. His compositions take influence in 19th century romanticism, folk, baroque and flamenco. Barrios' music is known to be very difficult for guitarists to learn. His work was almost forgotten after his death in 1944, but in the '70s, guitarist John Williams brought his music back to popularity. Now, he is viewed by many to be the greatest composer of guitar music. Once when he was in a church listening to the organ music of Bach, he was inspired to write "La Catedral", which is regarded to be his greatest work. He is often called "The Paganini of Guitar from the jungles of Paraguay".
Notable Compositions: La Catedral, Las Abejas, Vals No. 3, Vals No. 4, Cueca, Una Limosna Por El Amor De Dios
Andres Segovia - When Segovia was born in 1893, instruments like the Cello or Piano were loved among Spain. The guitar was a poor man's instrument. When Segovia wanted to learn the guitar, he was told it was not a respectable instrument. It was a relatively quite instrument, with a relatively small repertoire. Segovia learned to play the guitar, and gave his first public performance at the age of 16.
He transcribed many works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Scarlattie, and other notable composers. The prime of his career is said to be when he played "Chaconne in D Minor" by Bach. It was around 12 minutes, and originally written for violin. Segovia's transcriptions, performances and talent as a musician played the biggest role in bringing the guitar away from bars and streets of Spain, and into the concert halls with classical instruments.
Notable Compositions: Estudio Remembranza
John Williams - Williams is one of the most famous classical guitarists in the world. He was a student of Segovia. Many say that John Williams has easily passed the skills of his teacher. The relationship between Williams and Segovia had many uneasy moments. In an interview, Williams said when he was younger, he was trying to decide whether or not he wanted to be in a guitar competition.
Williams would have most likely won the competition, but he stated he didn't like the idea of competing. When he decided not to enter, he received an angry phone call from Segovia, where he yelled at Williams in Spanish, calling him names. Although he is known to be one of the most famous classical guitarists in the world, he was in a Rock band called Sky. Their fame didn't quite match the success of John Williams classical career, but they had their share of success in Britain and Australia.
Notable Compositions: Aeolian Suite (4 Movements)
Fernando Sor - Sor was born in 1778 in Spain. He is often called the "Beethoven of Guitar". He is one of the first notable guitarist/composers. His family was filled with men of the military. He was expected to continue the tradition, but he was in love with music. He composed many works for the guitar. Two years before his death, his daughter died in 1837. Sor is said to have died extremely depressed.
Notable Compositions: Gran Solo, Variations on a theme by Mozart, Study in B Minor
Mauro Giuliani - Giuliani is another guitarist in the same era as Sor. He was born in 1781 in Italy. Although he was a cellist, he was much more focused on the guitar. He lived in Vienna, where he was a professional composer. He is known for writing music for the guitar, featuring an orchestra in the backround.
Notable Compositions: Grand Concerto, Rossiniana, 120 studies for the right-hand technique
Francisco Tarrega - Along with Segovia, Tarrega is known for playing a huge role in making the guitar a concert instrument. He was born in 1852 in Spain. When he was 10, he ran away to try and build a career. He was a good friend of spanish composer Isaac Albeniz. Tarrega even transcribed some of his music, most notably "Asturias" and "Tango In D". It is said that Albeniz has admitted he prefers the music on guitar, although it was originally for piano. Tarrega was heavily influential as a guitarist. Segovia learned much of his technique and style from Tarrega.
Notable Compositions: Recuerdos De La Alhambra, Gran Vals, Estudio Brillante
Django Reinhardt - Reinhardt was a gypsy jazz guitarist from Belgium. He played stringed instruments such as the guitar or banjo when he was a boy. When he was 18, he was badly burned in a fire. His pinky and ring finger on his left hand were badly burned. He wasn't expected to play guitar and was expected to have his leg amputated. Both expectations were wrong. He eventually could walk again, and he completely changed his technique of guitar-playing. He soloed only using his index and middle finger, and sometimes could use his to other fingers for chords. His music is known for it's strong rhythm and unique guitar solos.
Notable Compositions: Minor Swing, Swing 39, Nuages
Wes Montgomery - Wes was always a fan of Jazz. He didn't start playing guitar until he was 19. He learned quick, and could play music easily by ear. His technique was mainly picking the strings with his thumb. His solos frequently feature octaves being strummed as the strings in between are muted. He is one of the most influential guitarists in modern jazz. George Benson has cited Montgomery as a huge influence.
Notable Compositions: Doujie, Movin' Along, So Do It
Cesar Rosas - Cesar Rosas is in the Mexican band Los Lobos. They do play Rock music, but early in their career they played traditional Mexican boleros. The style is mainly Nylon-string guitars, with Mexican-styled instruments (Bass, percussion, etc.), and often times an accordion or saxophone. Los Lobos are very popular among listeners of the traditional Ranchera Mexican music.
Notable Compositions: Cumbia Raza, Sabor A Mi (Composed by Alvaro Carillo), Estoy Sentado Aqui.