Extract from the interview published in Guitar aktuell, IV 2009
Question: What is your impression of the current guitar scene? What has changed, what new trends are there? How well accepted is the classical guitar when you compare it worldwide?
E.F.: First of all, I have to say that I am not so familiar with the German guitar scene and that some of the things I am going to say may not be true for Germany. I am going to exaggerate to make my point clear. Just take what I’m going to say as a provocation, intending to cause a reaction. It may be a caricature of reality, but let’s see if the principal statement becomes clear.
In general, what I am observing is a refusal on the part of guitarists to go deeply into the music, and also the rejection of the guitar by the music scene. Let me put it this way: many guitarists (luckily not all) are turning a blind eye to what’s going on outside the so-called guitar scene, by which I mean guitar festivals, competitions, guitar concerts, guitar magazines.
In an alarming way this applies not only to contemporary music, but even more to ANY type of historical music. The consequence is that you may hear somebody play Giuliani, seriously wondering how Giuliani could ever have been taken seriously by Beethoven, which is obviously not Giuliani’s fault.
The same happens with Sor and that entire musical period. Or you may hear a guitarist play Bach in a way that even trained musicians wouldn’t recognize it as Bach’s music – and then these guitarists get applause from that guitar scene and nobody seems to have any objections.
I don’t know why such things are going on, and I also don’t understand why guitarists are preoccupied with would-be compositions that are nothing but scripted improvisations with little if any compositional substance; or how the programme is supposed to benefit from pop or folk music being slipped in.
Please don’t get me wrong: I am not a snob, and no doubt these things have their justification, but they also have their own place, and I am saying this as a Beatles fan. I also like other things apart from Bach!
What I’m trying to say is that in my opinion we’ve got our priorities wrong: we are running the risk of alienating the small number of aficionados to artful music that we guitarists have, and we may end up playing only for colleagues.
The scene for artful music refuses to acknowledge that the guitar is a serious instrument (and maybe that’s its revenge); at least, since Segovia and Yepes have passed away and Bream is no longer making any public appearances, the scene seems unsure whether there is still a serious concert guitarist with anything to express. Of course there are exceptions, but these are exceptions.
You could also think that Segovia never existed if it weren’t for the many compositions dedicated to him, but as far as his impact on the world of music is concerned, which was overwhelming while he lived, he might simply be a fictitious character. It seems as if the world of music thinks the guitar died with Segovia.
And thus we are finding ourselves in a situation today where the guitar world exists practically disconnected from and parallel to the rest of the world of music. It is a relationship similar to that between science fiction and the rest of literature.
Despite all this, there ARE serious artists among the guitarists. The level of their technical skill has risen dramatically over the last few decades, there are more guitar festivals than ever and new ones seem to be materializing on a weekly basis.
The guitar is being taught worldwide at a high academic level. We could say “we’re alive, so what?”
There is a functioning guitar world, it gives us work, so why worry if concert series usually avoid the guitar. It’s up to you: is your glass half full or half empty? Or do we just have a general marketing problem? I really don’t know.