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Jose Ramirez: Myths and Facts
Myth: My guitar was made by the old man himself!
Fact: Very unlikely. My first response is which old man: José Ramirez I, II, III, IV (not so old)? After that, keep in mind that the José Ramirez workshop has employed many workmen in the shop over the years. Of all of the great Ramirez guitars played by Segovia and his students during the 1960s, very few if any were actually made from start to finish by José Ramirez III. This was simply not the practice. Ramirez III acted as maestro of his shop since the 1950s, but his journeymen were the hands-on workers. I do not mean to imply that as a result these great instruments were inferior. On the contrary, it is testimony to a great design that it can be repeated by so many different individuals. However, most of these great guitars were made by people other than Ramirez I, II, III or IV. In short, the signature below the label does not mean the guitar was made by José Ramirez, only that it met his criteria and approval.
It is with pleasure that our friends in Spain, Cristina and Enrique Ramírez – Amalia Ramírez’s niece and nephew – share the first trailer they produced for the upcoming documentary about the José Ramírez guitar-making family. Watch this 2-minute preview below, and you’ll see that the documentary will touch on how the guitar has survived thus far, plus it will undoubtedly detail the stamp that the Ramírez brand has left in the guitar world with 137+ years of work. The trailer was made for the Madrid Flamenco Festival, and the siblings will share with us (and you) all remaining trailers as the September premiere date approaches. We’re really thrilled for this as much as we’ve been for any other movie released this year (including “End Game”)… Stay tuned!Continue Reading
We’re very excited to present the world premiere of Evan Hirschelman’s new piece Unfeathered As We Are. Evan wanted to pair his new piece with the perfect guitar, and after trying out quite a few we wondered how it would sound on the 1969 Ramirez Segovia had owned and played for 11 years. There’s not much that guitar can’t handle beautifully, so we tried it and it turned out to be a perfect fit.
We asked Evan for a few words about the piece and guitar:
“Unfeathered As We Are is a new composition I wrote, exploring a wide range of textures and emotions. It was a joy to perform this work on the legendary historic guitar Segovia owned and performed on. It was interesting to hear what the maestro was looking for in an instrument, while adapting to the timbral sound quality to interpret my own composition and playing style. I actually had the chance to play this guitar when GSI received it over a year ago, and wrote about my experience on my blog. The sheet music for Unfeathered As We Are will be available on my website starting next week.”
As we look forward to the release of Scott Tennant’s CD of Segovia’s music recorded on the 1969 Jose Ramirez 1a ‘AM’ that was owned by Segovia, we came across this video of Segovia himself playing the guitar. The video is from a 1972 documentary apparently made for Italian television, but we were very excited to see that there was Segovia playing the very guitar that wound up in the Russell Cleveland collection and subsequently at GSI, where we recorded Scott’s CD, as well as some other videos with great players (you can see them all here). Scott’s Segovia CD is being published by Guitar Coop and will be released soon! Watch at 0:34 in the video to see the camera zoom in and show the serial number of the guitar – No. 3,339.
Our friend Jiji was back in town – you may remember her amazing performance of Leyenda on a 1925 Santos Hernandez – more or less on her way to her new gig at Arizona State University where se’ll be an Assistant Professor of guitar. This time she played some Scarlatti for us on a Jose Ramirez Centenario in spruce and CSA rosewood and she also played a piece by Ben Verdery called Tread Lightly For you Tread on my Dreams. Jiji studied with Verdery at Yale and the 2003 Greg Smallman that jiji played for the piece also belonged to Verdery originally.
Here’s guitarist Carlos Santi playing Sergio Assad’s Farewell on a 1972 Jose Ramirez 1a in cedar and gorgeous CSA rosewood. Santi teaches guitar and chamber music at the Universidad de Córdoba in Argentina and has toured the world as a performer. We have some more great videos of him coming very soon.
We have more of the Park Brothers, Alex and Wesley, this time playing Drewries Accordes as transcribed by Patrick Russ and Christopher Parkening, with Wesley playing a fantastic 1953 Manuel de la Chica in mahogany and spruce that belonged to Pepe Romero, and Alex playing a great 2009 Jose Ramirez 2a in spruce and Indian rosewood.