I love acoustic guitar, whether the music is classical, folk, pop, or anything from a warm country. Agustin Barrios was a rock star in the classical guitar world; he was a Paraguayan virtuoso and composer, and heralded for both. And thank goodness he wrote things down, as he left behind a wealth of music for future guitarists to perform. Like Sergei Rachmaninoff, with whom he was a close contemporary, Barrios’ music was mainly late-Romantic in nature, even if he lived well into the 20th century. A great deal of influence came from the folk music of South America and Central America, and featured virtuosic passages, all the better to show off his superior technique.
Barrio’s music is comprised of three main parts:
1. Folkloric – Barrios paid tribute to the music and people of his native country.
2. Imitative – Barrios appreciated the Baroque and Romantic periods, and sometimes composed in the style of these eras.
3. Religious – Barrios’ beliefs and experiences was important to him, and was a key component to his compositional process.
“Julia Florida” is a beautiful, short, intimate piece, a “barcarola”, which you may recognize from the word “barcarolle”, or “boat song”. They’re usually in 6/8 time, and have a relaxed, lilting quality, as if to suggest being gently rocked on a boat. Other composers who composed barcarolles include Offenbach, Faure, and Chopin. “Julia Florida” was written in December of 1938 while Barrios was living in Costa Rica. It was not a great time for Barrios, health-wise, and Julia was student of his. Apparently, she remembers him as “smoking a lot, and being a bit nervous”. Based on the heartfelt, yet gentle sincerity of this gem, one wonders if Barrios was at least a little bit in love with her.
Berta Rojas plays “Julia Florida”.
Augustin Pio Barrios was born May 5, 1885 in either San Juan Bautista de las Misiones, or Villa Florida, Misiones, Paraguay, and died August 7, 1945, in San Salvador, El Salvador.