María Luisa Anido at the guitar | Photo by Castella Conservatory/La Nación
About Open Ears: So many people who made invaluable contributions to classical music have been nearly lost to history or are underappreciated in their time. That’s why KUSC is starting Open Ears, a series of stories about composers, musicians, and conductors who deserve more recognition. You can learn more and explore other articles here.
Every human being sometimes needs a kind of spiritual dialogue with the infinite, he needs to dream of that ever-moving immaterial beauty of poetry or music, recreating with colors or sonorities the mysterious impressions that awaken in his soul. -María Luisa Anido
Here’s one of the most famous pieces ever written for the guitar.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra, by Francisco Tárrega, reflects the emotional soul of the instrument. It’s also extremely difficult to play. A good performance of this piece, like the one above, requires equal parts spontaneity and control. To pull that off without sounding aimless or overwrought is nearly impossible, but when an artist does it, the audience is transported.
María Luisa Anido was such an artist. Born in the Morón province of Buenos Aires in 1907, Anido started playing guitar at age 10. She took to the instrument extremely quickly and within a few months, her father realized she deserved a great instrument. He bought her a guitar made in 1864 that had once belonged to Francisco Tárrega.
Composing is a wonderful task because of the sincerity it carries within, because of the act of creation […] because it reveals the greatest depths of the human soul. -María Luisa Anido
But performing wasn’t enough for Anido. At age 20, she composed her first piece of music: Barcarola. She sent a copy of the score to the Catalan guitar virtuoso Miguel Llobet, who quickly wrote back, saying, “I have read and played your Barcarola; the voices are carried magnificently with admirable taste of their natural characteristics; the tone colours are perfect. Bravo, very well done. I think you should continue writing your excellent inspirations.”
Anido did. She became one of the leading guitar performer-composers of the 20th century–and one of the only women. Known as “The Lady of the Guitar,” or to fellow Spanish-speaking friends and fans, “Mimita,” María Luisa Anido studied with Llobet and eventually formed a guitar duo with him–one of the first-ever such ensembles that achieved any kind of success.
María Luisa Anido with Miguel Llobet
In the 1950s, Anido made her London debut, performing at Wigmore Hall. She would also spend several years performing and teaching in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. It is from that time that we get one of just a few videos available of Anido performing.
Here’s an audio-only video of María Luisa Anido performing her composition El Misachico, also known as Procesión Coya, which Anido dedicated to her mother.
And what about that very first composition by María Luisa Anido? Here it is: