For My Father
Joaquín Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez
One night, when I was sixteen, I could not sleep. I turned on my radio, low—and picked up a classical station out of San Francisco (oh, to live in a place where they had such radio stations, I thought!). I tuned in as they played one of the most beautiful pieces of music I had ever heard: but I lost reception before it finished and before the announcer told what piece it was. It sounded Spanish, and it featured guitar and orchestra. I picked out the melody from the Adagio on the piano the next morning, and I remembered it.
I searched for that piece of music for years. I tuned in late many nights to that station from San Francisco, hoping that they would play it again. Finally, driving back to college after a visit home, and, again late at night but this time able to pick up KBYU (the classical station from Brigham Young University), I heard it again: and when it had finished, I heard the announcer tell what it was—Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. The melody I had picked out on the piano—that astonishment of beauty—was, indeed, from that concerto.
Joaquín Rodrigo (1901 - 99) was born in Sagunto, Valencia, in Spain. The Wikipedia article about Rodrigo states that his music is among "the most popular [classical] music of the 20th century. In particular, his Concierto de Aranjuez is considered one of the pinnacles of Spanish music and of the guitar concerto repertoire."
Rodrigo went nearly blind after contracting diphtheria as a child. He wrote his compositions in Braille. He composed his Concerto de Aranjuez in Paris in 1939, after the miscarriage of his first child. He received numerous awards throughout his life, and, in 1991, King Juan Carlos I of Spain bestowed on Rodrigo the hereditary title of "Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez."
In 1995, I heard the great guitarist Christopher Parkening perform this concerto with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. There is no recording of that concert. But here is a link to Christopher Parkening performing the Concierto de Aranjuez, with Andrew Litton conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra:
After I came out, my father made a real effort to stay connected with me, and to let me know he still cared. On one visit home, he asked me to pick out eight or ten pieces of classical music I thought he might enjoy. He even gave me money to buy the CDs and send them to him. He said he wanted to know more about classical music. I knew what he was doing; still, I found music for him, and we shared that good experience. The first piece I sent him was the Concierto de Aranjuez. He loved it, or at least he claimed to, but I believe he really did. I found it often in the CD player of his truck.
I created "Compassion," the image above, in 2006; it is based on Mandelbrot fractals; the title is from Luke 15:20 (KJV): "But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran [to him]."