When Spanish-born Joaquín Rodrigo was three years old, he contracted diptheria. The disease left him virtually blind, but this handicap did not prevent him from becoming one of the most well-known and popular figures in contemporary classical music.
Rodrigo studied first in a college for blind children and then in Valencia, Spain. In his late twenties, he moved to Paris to study with the famous Paul Dukas. There, he met other Spanish musicians, artists and writers, including Manuel de Falla, who became a close friend and long-time supporter. In 1933, Rodrigo married a Turkish pianist, Victoria Kamhi, who devoted her life to the career of her husband. In addition to performing and composing, Rodrigo led a very busy life as a professor of music, a music critic and head of music broadcasts for Spanish radio. Governments, universities and musical organizations from many different countries have honored him for his extraordinary contribution to Spanish music.
The music of Rodrigo draws on many different aspects of his native country’s spirit. It is noted especially for its beautiful melodies. He wrote songs, concertos, piano works and music for the theatre and movies. One of his most famous compositions is the Concierto de Arunjuez, a concerto for guitar.