Romance (guitar piece)

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For other uses, see Romance.
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"Romance Anónimo" (Anonymous Romance) is a piece for guitar, also known as "Estudio en Mi de Rubira" (Study in E by Rubira), "Spanish Romance", "Romance de España", "Romance of the Guitar", "Romanza" and "Romance d'Amour" among other names.

Its origins and authorship are currently in question. It is suspected of originally being a solo instrumental guitar work, from the 19th century. It has variously been attributed to Antonio Rubira, David del Castillo,[1] Francisco Tárrega, Fernando Sor, Daniel Fortea, Miguel Llobet, Antonio Cano, Vicente Gómez and Narciso Yepes. The Anónimo (anonymous) part of its name has been incorporated over the years due to this uncertainty. The question of authorship has probably been propagated by three main reasons: the lack of claim by its true author, the desire to avoid paying copyright fees, and the desire of publishing companies to claim the lucrative copyright of this world-famous piece.[2]

The style of the piece is that of the Parlour music of the late 19th century in Spain or South America, having a closed three-part form: the first in the minor key and the second being in the major key, with the third being a restatement of the first.

Early recordings[edit]

The earliest recording of "Romance" is on a cylinder (from the "Viuda de Aramburo" label[3][4]) featuring guitarists Luis and Simon Ramírez, made in Madrid sometime between 1897 and 1901. The work in question is titled "Sort-Estudio para Guitarra por S. Ramirez".[5][6][7] It is highly likely that the name "Sort" — as it occurs on the cylinders's title — refers to Fernando Sor, as Sor's surname is sometimes also spelled "Sort" or "Sorts".[8][9][10] The recording may be heard on the DOREMI release "Tarrega, His Disciples, and Their Students" (DHR-7996).

Possible origins[edit]

Early published versions[edit]

Antonio Rubira[edit]

An early publication of the work, known as "Estudio para Guitarra" de Rovira was published by J.A. Medina e Hijo in Argentina probably in 1913, or with complete certainty before 1925, when the publisher ceased activities;[11] which is attributed to guitarist Antonio Rubira. Guitarist and composer Isaías Sávio (Montevideo, 1900 — São Paulo, 1977) published information which also cites Antonio Rubira as author (see "Violào e Mestres" Junio, 1966 / Sào Paulo, Brasil[12]): Sávio gives information that Juan Pargas (who knew Rubira) gave the Estudio de Rovira to the guitarist Juan Valles in 1876 (1878?). Sávio also mentions that the work became popular in Buenos Aires, and began to be published by some, such as Spaniard Pedro Maza, and that the work appears in the method of Mascaro and Reissig (published in Montevideo in 1919), on page 14, with the title "Conocido por Estudio de Rovira".[11] Publishing company Ricordi of Argentina currently publishes the piece and attributes authorship to Antonio Rubira.[13]


The earliest manuscripts of the song documented so far, are from the late 19th century: one attributing authorship to Antonio Rubira;[14] and an unsigned version which shows a note at the bottom stating "Melodia de Sor" (Sor's melody)[15] arguably attributing the piece to Fernando Sor, though the style is vastly different from Sor's work. A noticeable difference between these manuscripts and the famous version of Yepes is the inverted arpeggio. Both manuscripts, though believed to be from the late 19th Century, have not been formally dated, and are not believed to be in the handwriting of the alleged authors, but rather are believed to be copies made by students or musicians (also note that Fernando Sor died in 1839).

The Ukrainian folk song Nich Yaka Misyachna (Beautiful Moonlight)[16] could be a precursor of the song. Although some correlation can be made between Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (especially the arpeggio), the Romance guitar piece and the Ukrainian folk song, the latter has enjoyed much success through Eastern Europe and Russia, while being vastly different from the Spanish/Argentine song and its various arrangements. Notably, since European music is largely governed by the same harmonic principles, similarities between unrelated original compositions are not only inevitable, but ubiquitous.

Disproved origins[edit]

Narciso Yepes (1927 — 1997) interpreted and is listed as the author of the song in René Clément's 1952 film Jeux interdits (Forbidden Games). The popularity of the film gave the song worldwide fame. Yepes currently has the copyright of this composition in Spain although recordings and manuscripts of this song predate 1952. Newer publications show Yepes as the arranger and being of anonymous authorship, or authored by Fernando Sor.[17]

The official statement from Narciso Yepes[18] and the Yepes heirs[citation needed] is that Narciso Yepes, being a young boy, originally composed the piece for his mother when he was about seven years old (c.1934) and soon thereafter performed it between acts at the Teatro Guerra, in Lorca, Spain. Some time later, he recounts, when he was thirteen years old he attended a performance in Valencia and heard his composition performed by another guitarist, who indicated the authorship as "anonymous". Yepes contends that the melody had been plagiarized (with some changes to the arrangement) by someone who, he assumes, must have attended that first performance.

However, Yepes was born 1927 and cannot be the author of the work, since it was already recorded in 1900 and published before 1925 (possibly 1913) by J.A. MEDINA e HIJO; and in 1919 in the method of Mascaro and Reissig, etc.[11][19]

Vicente Gomez (1911–2001)[20][21] published it and performed it in 1941 in the Hollywood movie Blood and Sand with Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth, also attributing authorship of the song to himself.

Other arrangements[edit]

  • A vocal version including lyrics, which is called Forbidden Games (Jeux Interdits) (sometimes also Romance of Love) was arranged by B. Parker and Marc Lanjean; and has been performed by artists such as Miriam Makeba [22] and Tom Jones
  • Mireille Mathieu has performed a two vocal versions; one in French (title: Amour Défendu) and one in German (title: Walzer der Liebe)
  • Swedish singer Lill Lindfors covered the piece as "Du är den ende" (Eng: "You are the only one") in 1966,[23] with Swedish lyrics by poet Bo Setterlind, also included on her 1967 album Du är den ende.[24]
  • Ginette Reno has also performed a vocal version, titled Forbidden Games.
  • The Julio Iglesias song Quiero from the 1975 album El Amor used this song as the melody, with added lyrics.
  • American rock band My Chemical Romance included this song on their debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, released 2002.[25] It remains the only instrumental song by the band.
  • Cantopop singer, Eason Chan, included this song on his 2011 album title release, Stranger Under My Skin. It is a bilingual English and Cantonese song with lyrics by Chow Yiu-Fai. Chan also had a Cantonese song based on Fur Elise.
  • Los Niños de Sara, Alabina's French gypsy musicians, did a flamenco version called "Romance Anonimo".
  • The Buck 65 song "The Outskirts" from the 2007 album Situation uses this song as backing.
  • An electronic version of the piece was used as background music for the 1980 arcade game Phoenix.
  • A version called Romanza appears on the 2010 album Five Deadly Venoms by progressive metal band Shaolin Death Squad.
  • Mike Oldfield used a fragment of the piece in his track "Romance" on his 2005 album Light + Shade.
  • Eddie Vedder played a version as an opening for the Pearl Jam song Betterman at an August 18, 2000 concert at the Deer Creek Music Center in Indianapolis, Indiana


  • Herrera, Francisco, Enciclopedia de la Guitarra (Spanish), Piles, Editorial de Música / Valencia, 2004. ISBN 978-84-95026-80-4


  1. ^ Sobre el Romance (mentioning David del Castillo) by Juan Dotras. The work in question is not the one with similar title, called "Romance sans paroles"
  2. ^ "Santiago Porras Álvarez Article (in Spanish)". 
  3. ^ Viuda de Aramburo, Madrid (Príncipe, 12), alt.
  4. ^ another newspaper clipping
  5. ^ Message by Jack Silver (from Doremi Recordings)
  6. ^ Information about Jack Silver and the cylinders - including photograph
  7. ^ Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project (possibly spelling errors...)
  8. ^ Estudios sobre Fernando Sor; by Luis Gásser; page 18; published by Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales
  9. ^ La guitarra en Cataluña, 1769-1939; by Josep Maria Mangado; page 13
  10. ^ Josep Ferran Sorts i Muntades; Enciclopèdia Catalana
  11. ^ a b c Enciclopedia de la Guitarra, Francisco Herrera
  12. ^ English Translation: The Romance of the "Romance" by Isaías Sávio (published in Soundboard Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 1 1988)
  13. ^ "Ricordi publishing company". ; details
  14. ^ "manuscript attributing authorship to Antonio Rubira". 
  15. ^ "manuscript citing "Melodia de Sor"". 
  16. ^ "Ukrainian folk song". 
  17. ^ Jeux interdits - Romance; Éditions Musicales Transatlantiques
  18. ^ Narciso Yepes explains his authorship of the Romance
  19. ^ Rico Stover (2013). Romance variations. Mel Bay Publications. 
  20. ^ "Vicente Gomez Biography". 
  21. ^ "Vicente Gomez IMDB Biography". 
  22. ^ Forbidden Games arranged by B. Parker and Marc Lanjean
  23. ^ "Du är den ende" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 1966. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  24. ^ "Du är den ende" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 1967. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  25. ^ "I Brought You My Bullets You Brought Me Your Love" (in Swedish). Amazon. 2002. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 

External links[edit]