by Miguel Saldivar, GSI
(August 8, 1929-September 13, 2001)
August 8, 1929, was a day that left a significant imprint on the history of contemporary guitar pedagogy. It was on this day that a great teacher, author, performer, arranger, and transcriber was born.
Frederick McNeill Noad was born in Blankenburg, Belgium, and grew up in the rural village of Eversley, in England. Although he was originally trained in the violin and the piano, he took up the guitar in his teens; first as a flamenco player, and eventually as a classical player.
The career of Frederick Noad encompassed many fields: he graduated from Wellington College with a Degree in Latin, Greek, Ancient History and Literature. At the age of 19 he enlisted in the Royal Corps of Signals, where he specialized in Intelligence Gathering and Radio Communications. Later, he received an M.A. Degree in Jurisprudence from Oxford University. Of note among his musical mentors was Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, with whom he studied composition.
Shortly after receiving his degree from Oxford University, he moved to the United States to accept a job with ‘J. Arthur Rank Films’. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, for the guitar world) the company downsized and he was temporarily left without a job. This proved to be a pivotal point: for although throughout the years he had been performing part-time as a guitarist, he decided to devote himself to the guitar full-time.
It was also around this time that he met Marilyn Clay Stuart, who was to become his life-long partner. In 1960 they were married, and a few years later they founded the ‘Spanish Guitar Center’ in Hollywood, California. This became not only a venue for guitar lessons, but also a shop where he imported guitars from such important makers as Miguel Rodriguez from Cordoba, and Manuel de la Chica from Granada.
In 1962, Noad participated in the legendary Andrés Segovia masterclasses in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. This was facilitated in part by Joaquin Rodrigo who had heard him perform a year earlier; an equally honorable recognition of his talents.
His success as a teacher was such that in the early 1960’s he was approached by Collier Books, and wrote the tremendously successful ‘Quick and Easy Guide to Playing the Guitar’. Shortly thereafter he approached KCET, aLos Angeles Public Television station, and in 1964 he recorded the black & white series of TV guitar lessons that would earn him worldwide fame. The series was so successful that it was re-filmed in 1981, this time in color. Mr. Noad’s TV lessons are to this day in syndication not only throughout the U.S., but also in many other countries around the world.
Mr. Noad was known to his friends as a man of seemingly unending energy: in 1968 he wrote Solo Guitar Playing, which has become a standard for guitar teachers and beginning students the world over. He published a series of 4 books of period music, for which he did extensive scholarly research in libraries all throughout Europe: The Renaissance Guitar, The Baroque Guitar, The Classical Guitar, and The Romantic Guitar. He taught at the California Institute of the Arts, created a guitar program at the University of Redlands, and later another at the University of California, Irvine. He was an original founder and chairman of the Guitar Foundation of America. Little known to most people is Mr. Noad’s skill as an accompanist with the lute and theorbo – as a matter of fact he is featured as an accompanist with these instruments in a few different recordings on Orion Records and ABC Records. Perhaps even less known is his skill with computers: he is the creator of the music-writing program Speedscore.
Other published works by Mr. Noad include: Playing the Guitar (a re-print of his ‘Quick and Easy Guide to Playing the Guitar’ by a different publishing house), The First Book for the Guitar, Solo Guitar Playing Vol. 2, The New Guitar Song Book, 100 Classical Studies, Frederick Noad’s Classical Guitar Treasury; Heitor Villa Lobos’ Complete Works for Solo Guitar, two TV booklets (12 lessons each) which accompany the television instruction series, The Virtual Guitarist, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Playing the Guitar.
With the anniversary of Mr. Noad’s passing, we wish to pay tribute to a man whose life-long work has helped bring the classical guitar to the homes of virtually millions of people. Through his methods, publications, and innumerable students, his legacy lives on: that of a sincere and passionate devotee of the guitar.
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