Alexandre Lagoya (21 June 1929 – 24 August 1999) was a classical guitarist and composer. His early career included boxing and guitar, and as he cites on the sleeve of a 1981 Columbia album, his parents hoped he would outgrow his predilection for both.
Life and career
Lagoya was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to a Greek father and an Italian mother. By 1955, when he married the French guitarist Ida Presti, his career had already begun. On the sleeve of his 1981 record with Columbia, Lagoya pays deep tribute to Presti and admits that after her premature death he was unable to play for years. He returned to the guitar as a teacher, tutoring among other famous guitarists the Canadian virtuoso Liona Boyd (who claims in her autobiography that she was also his lover). In the early 1980s, at the advanced age of 52, he burst back on the international scene with a record for Columbia and an international tour.
Lagoya played a variety of works for guitar, performing concerts and recording albums, often collaborating with Presti and also with other musicians. Lagoya was also a successful teacher. He taught at the Paris Conservatory and, in Canada, and developed a new method of hand positioning which he believed helped people learn to play the guitar better. He also added the use of the little finger to plucking and claimed to have invented a method for maximizing the sound coming from the classical guitar.
Concerning the right hand, Alexandre Lagoya preferred the technique of plucking from the right side of the nail, and he believed it gave a more powerful sound.
A number of composers wrote works for the duo, including:
- Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonatina canonica, Op. 196 (1961); Les Guitares bien tempérées, Op. 199 (1962); Concerto for Two Guitars and Orchestra, Op. 201 (1962).
- Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur: Élégie (1956).
- Pierre Petit: Tarantelle (1959); Toccata (1959).
- Joaquín Rodrigo: Tonadilla (1959). Rodrigo finished another piece for two guitars, the Concierto Madrigal, in 1966, but Presti died before she and Lagoya could perform it. Angel and Pepe Romero subsequently gave the first performance of it in July 1967. In addition, Rodrigo wrote Fuga elegiaca (1967) on the occasion of Ida Presti's death, following a request by John W. Duarte.
- Pierre Wissmer: Prestilagoyana (1969).
- Six Études (Paris: Max Eschig, 1958)
- Caprice (Paris: Ricordi, 1959)
- Rêverie (Paris: Ricordi, 1959)
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Gavotte et musette (from BWV 808) (Paris: Ricordi, 1959), for 2 guitars
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Gavotte (from BWV 1012) (Paris: Ricordi, 1959), for solo guitar
- Georg Friedrich Händel: Sarabande (Paris: Ricordi, 1959), for solo guitar
- Domenico Scarlatti: Sonata (Paris: Ricordi, 1959), for 2 guitars
- L'Art de Alexandre Lagoya avec Ida Presti (6-CD set)
- Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez - Fantasía para un gentilhombre - Antonio de Almeida, conductor - Philips
- Some photos of LP covers (Oviatt Library Digital Collections)
- Obituary: Alexandre Lagoya, in: The Independent, 1 Oct 1999, by Martin Anderson
- Alexandre Lagoya Dies at 70; Innovative Classical Guitarist, in: The New York Times, 26 August 1999, by Allan Kozinn
- In memoriam by Richard Sagala (French)
- "Artist Interview: Liona Boyd". Mel Bay.