Léonie Sonning Awards 1974

Andrés Segovia

The guitarist Andrés Segovia received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 65,000 at a concert held at 8pm on Thursday, 30 May 1974 at Falkoner Teatret.

The music prize was presented by Børge Friis, Dr.Phil.

The programme

Luis Milán Three Pavanes
Luis de Narváes The Emperor’s song and Diferencias (based on a Spanish theme)
R. de Visée Suite in D major
J.S. Bach Sarabande and Gavotte
Fernando Sor Introduction and Allegro
M. Castelnuovo-Tedesco Capriccio
F.M. Torroba Allegretto grazioso
Joaquín Turina Fantasía
Isaac Albéniz Torre Bermeja

Andrés Segovia, guitar


The Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 65,000 is hereby awarded to Andrés Segovia in profound admiration of his life-long and indefatigable efforts to preserve and renew the tradition of the Spanish guitar, to give it a respected position in concert halls around the world, to revive valuable earlier music cultures and to encourage new works. Andrés Segovia’s work has inspired young people, and in Denmark as in the rest of the world it is seen as the expression of the highest ideals in the art of music.

Segovia and Denmark

In 1927 Segovia gave two concerts in the Odd Fellow Palæet in Copenhagen – on 3 May and on 28 July 1927. When the previous year – in 1926 – a large concert had been organised to pay homage to Carl Nielsen in Paris, here the Danish composer met, Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel and Arthur Honegger. It is said – according to the guitarist Erling Møldrup – that Carl Nielsen, after having been to a concert by Segovia, expressed the wish to write a guitar concerto. Danish guitarists would give a great deal for that wish to have become a reality.

Segovia came to Denmark already in November of the year before the prize-giving ceremony. He invited the foundation chairman and secretary to lunch at Store Kro inn in Fredensborg along with Segovia’s Danish friends and the official Spanish representatives in Denmark. It proved easy to reach agreement. Segovia was to give a solo concert, preferably in Tivoli Concert Hall (which was not available – so the concert was moved to Falkonércentret). A short time after the Prize Concert in 1974, there also came a letter from Segovia, in which he place his entire fee from the concert in Falkonérteatret at the disposition of the Music Foundation. But it was only nineteen years later that the Music Foundation recalled the amount Segovia had donated to young Danish guitarists in 1973. Plus interest, this fee had now increased from Kr. 16,020 to approx. Kr. 36,000, and the decision was taken to call the amount the Segovia Prize, which was awarded to Skandinavisk Guitar Duo (Jesper Sivebæk and Per Pålsson), who also won the Danish Radio’s P2 Chamber Music Competition in 1993.

Like so many other foreign artists, Segovia lost his heart a little to Copenhagen. He made close Danish friends, and in November 1984 he returned to give a concert at Odd Fellow Palæet, at the age of almost 92.

Selected Music by Andrés Segovia

The daily press

wrote, among other things:

"[…] Four centuries of music, interpreted and expressed by a master of the instrument that causes young people of today to listen entranced. With his classical guitar, Andrés Segovia has brought together young and old, past and present, and has never compromised but managed to retain his ideals. A unanimous Falkonércentret enthusiastically applauded the old maestro between the five encores. A music evening characterised by clarity and strength. A young cherry tree in full blossom."

(Claus Seidel, Land og Folk, 1 June 1974)

"For half a century, Segovia has given concerts here in Denmark, but until a decade or so ago, only a small circle turned up each time he made an appearance. After the guitar has become young people’s favourite instrument, things have changed, and even Falkonérteatret is now too small to contain all his fans. As an artist he is unparalleled, his playing is a world of subtle beauty of sound and his phrasing elastic."

(Nils Schørring, Berlingske Tidende, 31 May 1974)

"[...] The fact that today there are a great number of concertos for guitar and orchestra, guitar and string quartet, etc. is first and foremost due of Segovia, just as he must take a great deal of the credit for the classical guitar now being taught at most academies of music. Today, Segovia has come so far in his crusade against the stock-conservative view that consigned the guitar to bars and rustic idyll that his work has changed from being a personal matter to a ‘movement’ that will not die out the day the maestro himself stops playing."

(Torben Thune, Fyens Stiftstidende, 31 May 1974)