Sketches of Rodrigo

Although raised Catholic, Cecilia Rodrigo, daughter of composer Joaquín Rodrigo, has strong bond with Judaism.

Cecilia together with her father, Joaquín Rodrigo 390 (photo credit: Courtesy of PR)
Cecilia together with her father, Joaquín Rodrigo 390
(photo credit: Courtesy of PR)
It’s been a long time in the making, but Cecilia Rodrigo’s visit to this country next week will be something of a homecoming. If the family name sounds familiar you are probably one of the many millions of people around the world, avid music fans and occasional listeners alike, who have been seduced by the haunting sonorities of the ever-popular Concierto de Aranjuez.
The work was written for classical guitar and orchestra by Cecilia’s father, Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo, in 1939 and forms part of the Rodrigo and Mozart program which will be performed by the Ra’anana Symphonette at the Municipal Music and Arts Center in Ra’anana between March 19 and March 21.
The Mozart side of the double-header repertoire includes the overture from the opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, and Symphony No. 31 in D Major. In addition to Concierto de Aranjuez, the Spanish part features Rodrigo’s Violin Concerto, Solierana and Tres Viejos Aires De Danza.
Although she was raised a Catholic, Rodrigo says she has a strong bond with Judaism, and is delighted to be finally making it over to this part of the world.
“My mother was Jewish and she was very active in the Jewish community. She observed all the religious holidays, so that was part of my life too. It has been my dream to come to Israel for many years and I am so happy I am coming,” she said.
This will not be the first performance of Concierto de Aranjuez in Israel. The composer and his wife came here in 1965 for the premiere of the work.
“My father was very happy to be in Israel that time, and the concert was a great success,” says Rodrigo. “My parents were supposed to go back to Israel in 1982, for another performance of the concerto, but my father became very ill at the time so they had to cancel.”
For Rodrigo, the concerto is much more than just a captivating piece of music.
“I think it represents Spain, the beautiful Spain, not the Spain of the sunshine and Sangria, all over the world,” she declares.
The work has also appealed to generations of musicians from a wide spectrum of genres. Iconic jazz trumpeter Miles Davis incorporated the second movement in his 1960 record Sketches of Spain, jazz pianist Chick Corea used the start of the second movement in his popular number “Spain,” Led Zeppelin’s keyboardist-bassist John Paul Jones introduced parts of the concerto during an improvised sector of “No Quarter” during the band’s 1977 tour, “La Bairut” by Lebanese singer Fairuz feeds off the work and our very own Rita’s “Shir Hakeshet” (Rainbow Song) contains the melody of the second movement.
RODRIGO SAYS that her father never quite fathomed the across-the-board appeal of his composition.
“It is a mystery. My father always said that if he had known why it was such a success, he would have used the approach again.”
She says it is down to the emotive side of the work, rather than pure quality.
“It does not depend on how good the music it is. It is the way the music touches the heart of the audience.”
The enduring success of Concierto de Aranjuez notwithstanding, Rodrigo says there is much more to her father’s output.
“The concerto has not really been the soundtrack to my life, that is the whole body of my father’s works. The concerto is only one of his works and I think that all his other works deserve greater attention. That is what I am working for. In a way the concerto draws too much attention from my father’s other works. No doubt the Israeli audiences in Ra’anana will realize how beautiful the other things my father wrote are.”
Rodrigo says she also experts the cultural bonds between Spain and Israel to come into play in the audiences’ response to next week’s concerts.
“Both Israel and Spain have lots of different parts in their culture. We have Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other parts, and so do you.”
She adds that her mother’s roots also influenced her father’s creativity.
“My mother came from Istanbul and many of my father’s works are inspired by Sephardi culture.”
Rodrigo Sr. also fed off an eclectic range of musical sources.
“He was very cultured and he listened to everything,” says Rodrigo.
“He was very much interested in contemporary music and, in a way, he was very avant-garde. He was also a professor at the university in Madrid, and he played all kinds of music to his students.”
The composer died in 1999, at the grand old age of 98, and Rodrigo says her father would have been delighted to know that his famous concerto, as well as other works, was getting another airing here.
“Both my parents loved Israel very much and felt close to it. What I really hope is that the music of my father becomes, from now, much more known in Israel. I am really looking forward to coming to Israel and being at the concerts in Ra’anana. My father would have been very proud.”
The concerts will take place at 8:30 p.m. on March 19-21. For tickets and more information: (09) 745-7773 and