This thesis argues that the context within which prominent Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999) composed for the guitar was largely affected by the role of neoclassicism between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. This will be traced through an examination of the events and figures that contributed to the development of Spanish neoclassicism during the period. While a substantial body of literature exists regarding the engagement of French and Spanish musical nationalism with Stravinsky’s neoclassicism, little has been written about how these events came to affect composers of the classical guitar after the Spanish Silver Age in the 1920s. A key composer in linking the neoclassicism of Stravinsky and the French with the development of Spain’s musical landscape was Manuel de Falla (1876-1976).
His works, now studied in the sphere of prominent neoclassical composers of the time, inspired a generation of composers prior to and following the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to utilize the classical guitar in their neoclassical compositions removed of Andalusian cliché. The instrument itself came to represent the neoclassical movement with its combining of modernist elements and ties to Spain’s rich musical past. In the Spanish Silver Age, the affect of Falla’s music was substantial. His explorations of using the guitar and other historical instruments from La Vida Breve (1904), El Corregidor y la Molinera (1919), through to El Retablo de Maese Pedro (1923) and The Harpsichord Concerto (1926) affected how audiences internationally and locally received the new identity of Spanish music. Rodrigo’s compositions were greatly affected by Falla’s output. Combined with the recognition and popularity of the classical guitar through the concerts of Andrés Segovia, Rodrigo’s guitar works launched the neoclassical aesthetic on the classical guitar to an international scale. He remains the composer of hugely important works of the classical guitar repertoire.