NILS CHEVILLE – Aire de Zamba (Agustín Pío Barrios)

Agustín Pío Barrios (1885-1944), also known as Agustín Barrios Mangoré, or Nitsuga—Agustin spelled backward—Mangoré, was a Paraguayan virtuoso classical guitarist and composer, largely regarded as one of the greatest performers and most prolific composers for the guitar.

As a child, Barrios developed a love of music and literature, two arts that were very important to his family. Barrios would eventually speak two languages (Spanish and Guarani), and read three others (English, French, and German).

Barrios began to show an interest in musical instruments, particularly the guitar, before he reached his teens. He went to Asunción in 1900, at the age of fifteen, to attend Colegio Nacional de Asunción, thus becoming one of the youngest university students in Paraguayan history. Apart from his studies in the music department, Barrios was highly appreciated by members of the mathematics, journalism and literature departments. He was a skilled graphic artist and worked for a time in the Agricultura bank and the Paraguayan Naval office.

After leaving the Colegio Nacional, Barrios dedicated his life to music, poetry, and travel. He composed more than 100 original works and arranged another 200 works of other composers. Barrios made several friends during his many trips across South America. He was known for giving his friends and fans signed copies of his poems. As a consequence, there are several versions of his poetical works that have surfaced across the Americas. Many current collectors warn potential buyers to be careful when they come across a work reportedly autographed by Barrios because an individual has been known to create forgeries.

Barrios was famed for his phenomenal performances, both live and on gramophone recordings. Eye witness testimony from Lope Texera in Caracas Venezuela on April 18, 1932, declared that Barrios was “superior to Segovia whom I saw in London last year”. Barrios has been credited as the first classical guitarist to make recordings, in 1909/10, but the earliest known recording were by guitarists Luis and Simon Ramirez, onto cylinders, for the “Viuda de Aramburo” label, in Madrid, between 1897 and 1901.[2] Barrios at times performed in concert in traditional Paraguayan dress (he was partly of Guaraní origin), beginning in 1932 using the pseudonym of Nitsuga Mangoré (‘Nitsuga’ being Agustín spelled backwards, and ‘Mangoré’ being the name of a cacique of the South American indigenous group Timbú).[citation needed]

His works were largely late-Romantic in character, despite his having lived well into the twentieth century. Many of them are also adaptations of, or are influenced by, South American and Central American folk music. Very many of them are of a virtuosic nature.

After touring Europe in 1934-35, Barrios performed in Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Several writers have suggested that Barrios revisited Mexico in 1939, but his immigration file with the Mexican government did not include an entry for him or his wife Gloria that year. He fulfilled his dream to reach the United States after getting an entry visa at the US Embassy in Maracaibo Venezuela on December 23, 1936. Ship passenger lists reveal that Barrios and his wife travelled as diplomats and arrived in Puerto Rico, a US territory, in January 1937.

He reportedly suffered a myocardial infarction in front of the US Embassy in Guatemala City on October 27,1939, after it was discovered that he was travelling with phony diplomatic papers issued by his lifetime friend and Patron Tomas Salomoni.[citation needed] Having recently been in Germany, at the lead-in to the Second World War, Barrios was never again able to use his diplomatic connections. He was sent an invitation to leave Guatemala because of his political leanings. He accepted the invitation of Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, then President of El Salvador, to move to El Salvador and take up a position in the Conservatory and Declamation Rafael Olmedo.

He was never to leave El Salvador. Past biographers suggested that he suffered a second myocardial infarction on August 7, 1944, causing his death, but the case is still open. A forensic physician has suggested that his death was more likely due to poisoning.[6] At the time, Barrios’ wife was carrying on an open affair with the Italian coffee plantation owner Pasquale Cosarelli, who was also residing in the Barrios household. Cosarelli was soon to marry Barrios’ widow, and had both the motive and the chemicals to carry out the murder. Barrios was buried at Cementerio de Los Ilustres, having been carried there in the hottest week of the year on the shoulders of his students. In the hours after his death, his handwritten scores were stolen by his students along with his scrapbooks. (Wikipedia)


GUITARE: Nils Cheville
SON: Hervé Faivre et Gautier Serre à ImproveTone Studio
IMAGES: Svarta photography

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