Since almost before his death Francisco Tárrega became a symbol among his disciples. It is true he was an excellent guitarist and maestro (i.e., teacher), but many achievements for guitar were not only his, and his pupils were ever ready to believe anything good about guitar was the sole merit of their master. It is the fault of -mainly- Emilio Pujol, who did not hesitate to surrogate to his master those merits which were totally his, Pujol's.
Francisco Tárrega did not leave a manual to learn to play his instrument, though he had planned to do so, according to his disciples. He only left us some exercises and studies written by him. He also used some studies written originally by other people. The custom of signing the copy one made by hand of somebody else's music is very old, in fact it dates back from the codices in the Middle Ages. So, we could scarcely regard this custom as present day piracy, but as a cheap way to assert one's ownership on a sheet of paper in a time when even paper was a rare commodity. If we add ignorance about the true authorship of a given musical fragment, we could explain -of course, never excuse- that Tarrega's pupils published their master's papers as his. So, it happened that the guitar researcher and scholar Matanya Ophee found out that the famous Study on a theme by Fossa, attibuted to Tárrega by mistake, really belonged to the French guitarist François de Fossa, being exactly the second variation on the famous theme Folías de España, which many other composers, like Fernando Sor, had already varied. It goes without saying that Francisco Tárrega can't be held responsible for that lie, but his pupils, who attributed it to their maestro partly because of their sheer ignorance, partly out of admiration. Also, in that Spain nobody knew about other guitarists but the Spanish ones, and not all of them. However, we know now about the success of many other guitarists, like Giulio Regondi, the Polish Marek Sokolowski and Stanislaw Szczepanowski (who apparently had written the now lost tremolo Remembrances of Andalousie when visiting Spain together with Franz Liszt and Gottschalk), the Swiss Leonard Schultz, the Italian Luigi Mozzani, the Russian Nikolai Petrovitch Makarov and the Czech Johan Caspar Mertz.
Notwithstanding this, the music by Francisco Tárrega shines on itself. Let's listen to it under a new light, not a god's light, but that of a good man, a prolific author and excellent guitarist.
Cambrils (Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain),
Septembre, 3rd 1999
Jesuo de las Heras