‘Best’ living classical guitarist

My last post featured John Williams, and although many commented favourably, there were one or two critical of John’s virtuosity. When I searched the threads in the Delcamp forum,  I soon realised that there are as many opinions on the ‘best’ living classical guitarist as there are on what constitutes ‘best’.

The criteria for judging ‘best’ appear to fall into four categories: musicality, technique, tone production, and emotional impact. However, what interested me more was the sheer number of CG players listed among the top three picks… 38 in total!

So, I have compiled a list of just the top 10 candidates. I have done this as a basis for further research, learning, and listening pleasure. I have arranged the list based on the number of different people identifying them as part of the top three living players. Of course, the list is not meant as any sort of definitive ranking, but rather as an inspiration for run-of-the-mill classical guitarists like me. Along with each name are links to their websites and a video of them playing.

Of the 10 maestros listed, seven are over 60 years of age, and so the fear for many is that the era of classical guitar greats is passing. Not so! In my next post, I intend to highlight 10 great players between 40 and 55 years old. Then in a 3rd post I intend to feature another 10 fabulous players 35 years old and under. The future of the classical guitar looks bright to me!

1.  Julian Bream (84 years old)

http://www.julianbreamguitar.com/

Grand Solo by Fernando Sor

2.  David Russell (64 years old)

http://www.davidrussellguitar.com/

Choro No 1 by Villa-Lobos

3.  John Williams (76 years old)

http://www.johnwilliamsguitarnotes.com/

Sevilla by Albeniz

4.  Ana Vidovic (37 years old)

http://www.anavidovic.com/

La Catedral by Barrios Mangore

5.  Marcin Dylla (41 years old)

http://www.marcindylla.com/

la Alborada by Francisco Tárrega

6.  Jason Vieaux (44 years old)

https://www.jasonvieaux.com/

Bach: Lute Suite No. 3 in E minor, BWV 996

7.  Manuel Barrueco (65 years old)

http://www.barrueco.com/

Variations on a Theme of Mozart

8. Pepe Romero (74 years old)

https://peperomero.com/

Pepe Romero plays Zapateado & Fantasia from ‘Suite Andalucia’ by Celedonio Romero

9. Christopher Parkening (70 years old)

http://parkening.com/

Christopher Parkening plays Koyunbaba at Harvest Crusade

10. Sharon Isbin (61 years old)

http://www.sharonisbin.com/

Sharon Isbin plays Waltz by Agustin Barrios Mangore

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“Torija” from Castillos de España by Federico Moreno-Torroba.


Level/Grade 4 (Guitarburst level 7)

The castle of Torija is in the Guadalajara province, located just off the road between Madrid and Barcelona. Torroba (1891-1982) also composed operas, but he is best remembered for his works written for the classical guitar.

Per-Olov Kindren plays with his usaul style and sensitivity.

HERE is the musical score for this lovely piece

Tarrega: “Adelita” – by Per-Olov Kindgren

Adelita is one of Tarrega’s most well-known compositions and is played by amateurs and professionals alike. Apparently, Tárrega named the piece Adelita because he dedicated the piece to the illegitimate daughter King Alfonso XII, Adela Aimerich.

Here Per-OLov Kindgren plays the piece, which I have graded as Level 6 (Higher exit).

Winter(largo) by Vivaldi played by Steven Law

This is a Level/Grade 5 (Intermediate) piece composed by Vivaldi for the violin and transposed for the guitar. Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was an Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher and cleric. Born in Venice, he was as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe.

The piece is played by Steven Law, a member of a new breed of musical star who connect with fans directly through the Internet. His hundreds of guitar videos often feature tunes from modern pop songs and anime, and have been freely shared millions of times by grateful fans all over the world.

Garden steps by Andrew York played by Brian Farrell


In my scheme of things, this is a Level/Grade 4 (Lower exit) piece.

Andrew York ‘is one of today’s best loved composers for classical guitar and a performer of international stature. His compositions blend the styles of ancient eras with modern musical directions, creating music that is at once vital, multi-levelled and accessible.’ Taken from www.andrewyork.net

Brian Farrell is largely self-taught, however he initially took lessons with the late Barry Lawlor who was  one of Ireland’s finest guitar teachers and Barry’s teaching had a profound impact on Brian’s career.

Un dia de Novembre by Leo Brouwer

I have placed this haunting little piece at Grade 4 (Lower Exit) in my system, and Guitaburst have assigned it to Level 8 . It is an advanced beginner or entrance intermediate piece. Here it is played by Tatyana Ryzhkova

Lagrima by Tarrega

I usually post virtuosa performances of professional concert level pieces to provide us all with inspiration, pleasure and something to aspire to.  However, for the next few posts, I want to deviate from this and post performances, and lessons where available, of beautiful pieces that the average amateur guitarist can manage.

I have already featured a professional performance of the Tarrega’s lovely tune ‘Lagrima’ in the intermediate section of this site, but I neglected to include an actual lesson. So here is Simon Powis giving an excellent lesson on how to play this haunting little piece. I have also now included this in the Intermediate Music section.

The score I use is transcribed by Bradford Werner and you can find it HERE.

Lagrima is graded either as Advanced Beginner or Intermediate yet it is often performed by top-class players as part of their extended repertoire.

J.S.Bach Air on a G string played by Per-Olov KIndgren

Air on a G String is an arrangement for the violin from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major. Bach originally wrote the suite for Prince Leopold of Anhalt in the early 18th century. It only became known as Air on a G String in 1871 when the German violinist August Wilhelmj made a violin and piano arrangement of the second movement of this orchestral suite. By changing the key into C major and transposing the melody down an octave, Wilhelmj was able to play the piece entirely on the G string of his violin.