Classical Guitarist Spotlight – Gasper Sanz

A Brief Look Inside The Life of Gasper Sanz

Gaspar Sanz was born in Spain in 1640, he died in Madrid in 1710.

He was one of the most interesting Baroque guitarists. He was an ordained priest as well as “professor of guitar” Sanz left us an important body of compositions for guitar.

Canarios by Sanz is one of the most likeable and happy pieces written for guitar and is really something special in the modern guitar repertoire.

The great Spanish composer, Joaquin Rodrigo, used themes from “Canarios” and themes from other pieces by Sanz for composition written for Segovia “Fantasia Para un Gentilehombre” which is a Fantasia for guitar and orchestra.

As an interesting note, Rodrigo’s other great work for guitar and orchestra “Concerto De Aranjuez” is probably the best known work for guitar and was the inspiration for Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain”.

I first heard Canarios as a teenager when my guitar teacher lent me a John Williams record – it made a huge impression on me.

The album was an all Spanish affair with works by Granada’s, Albeniz, De Falla, Torroba & of course Gaspar Sanz.

Here was one guitarist playing music that sounded big, full and magical all on one solo guitar.

It was a revelation.

I’d heard all the great rock guitar players making great music in a band context which I loved but this was something else. I was intrigued and listening to someone else playing this music was not enough for me.

I wanted to play it myself

so I set out on my mission to learn to master solo guitar.

Canarios And What You Need To Know To Play This 6th Grade Piece

Canarios is graded as a 6th grade Trinity piece & to play it we need a full knowledge of the fretboard because it covers the whole 3 octaves of the guitar neck.

Rhythmically it’s a “Hemiola” which means we have two time signatures, 3/4 & 6/8 which gives an infectious rhythmic feel.

“America” by Leonard Bernstein from West Side Story is also a hemiola.

The strummed section builds the piece to a great climax & rounds out one of the most likeable and happy pieces written for guitar.


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