Eliot Fisk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eliot Fisk
Eliot Fisk with his mentor Andrés Segovia
Eliot Fisk with his mentor Andrés Segovia
Background information
Born (1954-08-10) August 10, 1954 (age 69)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, teacher
Instrument(s)Classical guitar
Years active1976–present
LabelsMusical Heritage Society, MusicMasters, Naxos, Albany, Nimbus, Wildner

Eliot Hamilton Fisk (born August 10, 1954) is an American classical guitarist.[1]

Music career[edit]

Education and teaching[edit]

Fisk was born into a Quaker family in Philadelphia.[2] He finished high school in DeWitt, New York, and then studied music at Yale University with harpsichordists Ralph Kirkpatrick and Albert Fuller.[3][4] He received both B.A. and M.S. degrees, and in 1977 started Yale's guitar department.[5] He was a student of guitarists Oscar Ghiglia, Alirio Díaz, and Andrés Segovia. He received private lessons from Segovia over the years and was his last private student.[5] Segovia became his mentor and one of his biggest admirers.[4]

In 1989 Fisk became an instructor at the Mozarteum University of Salzburg in Austria and in 1996 at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.[4] He created the Boston GuitarFest and is its artistic director.[5]


Fisk has performed with orchestras around the world, including Orchestra of St. Luke's, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, and the Pro Arte Orchestra. In chamber music settings, he has performed with the Juilliard String Quartet, Miró Quartet, Chilingirian Quartet, and Shanghai Quartet. He has performed and recorded with flautist Paula Robison; violinist Ruggiero Ricci, jazz guitarists Joe Pass and Bill Frisell, flamenco guitarist Paco Peña, and singer Ute Lemper.[5] Early in his career he was in recitals with soprano Victoria de los Ángeles.[6]

Transcriptions, commissions[edit]

Fisk has increased the amount of material available to classical guitarists by transcribing music written for other instruments. This increased repertoire includes his transcriptions of Bach, Scarlatti, Paganini, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Haydn and Schubert.[5]

He has also expanded the body of music for classical guitar by commissioning new pieces from composers, such as Leonardo Balada, Robert Beaser, Luciano Berio, William Bolcom, Nicholas Maw, Xavier Montsalvatge, George Rochberg, and Kurt Schwertsik.[6]

The volume and impact of his transcriptions, as well as of his teaching, has led him to be called "the Liszt of the guitar."[7]


In the 1990s, Segovia's widow gave Fisk unpublished compositions by Segovia. Fisk turned these compositions into Segovia: Canciones Populares, which became a bestseller on the Classical Album chart of Billboard magazine.[4] His transcription of violinist Niccolò Paganini's 24 Caprices also entered the chart and was widely praised. He collaborated with Ernesto Halffter, at the request of Segovia, on Halffter's Concierto for Guitar and Orchestra, which was performed with the Spanish National Orchestra and then turned into an album. With flutist Paula Robison, he recorded Robert Beaser's Mountain Songs, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1987.[8]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • First place, International Guitar Competition, Gargnano, Italy (1980)
  • Grammy Award nomination, Mountain Songs (1987)
  • Grand Cross of Isabel la Cátolica, for contribution to Spanish music (2006)
  • Teacher of the Year, New England Conservatory (2010)
  • Best Classical Guitarist, Guitar Player magazine Readers Poll

Views on guitarists[edit]

Eliot Fisk has said:

  • "It's true that Segovia didn't get compositions from Bartók, Stravinsky, Prokifiev and a lot of composers we would like to have pieces from. Maybe he was in a position to have done that, but on the other hand, who among us has done as much as he did? If other people were interested, they could've tried to commission them. Besides, this criticism of Segovia is pointless. If you disagree with what Segovia did, take that energy and go out and do something positive. Otherwise, shut up."[1]
  • "Now, it's different when John Williams, who studied with Segovia, says he wasn't a good teacher and the like. There is a difference in generation. [...] I didn't have Segovia butting into my life, telling me to do this and that. That's why John needed to rebel violently."[1]
  • "My rebellion is in truth against Bream and Williams; because I have to confess I'm a bit disappointed in both of them. From time immemorial, it has been the practice of one generation to pass on to the next what it learned. But my generation has almost no guitar fathers. Ghiglia and Diaz taught and were accessible, but Bream and Williams were not. [...] They've both given immensely. But growing up, I was very saddened by their inaccessibility. I feel that my generation lost a lot because of that. In a way, we all need to rebel. The next generation will rebel against us. It's one thing I encourage when teaching. I want to give my students the strength to tell me to go to hell. 'Cause if they can tell me to go to hell, they can tell the world. Ultimately, that will help them, not to be difficult but rather to have conviction for the long struggle."[1]


Year Album Label
1981 Eliot Fisk: Guitar Virtuoso Musical Heritage Society
1985 Eliot Fisk Performs Works by Baroque Composers MusicMasters
1986 Eliot Fisk Performs Baroque Guitar Transcriptions Musical Heritage Society
1989 Eliot Fisk Plays Guitar Fantasies MusicMasters
1993 Paganini: 24 Caprices MusicMasters
1991 Bell'Italia: Four Centuries of Italian Music MusicMasters
1993 Latin American Guitar MusicMasters
1993 Vivaldi Concertos & Other Works MusicMasters
1994 Mountain Songs: A Cycle of American Folk Music with Paula Robison MusicMasters
1994 Rochberg:Caprice Variations MusicMasters
1995 Sequenza! MusicMasters
1995 The Best of Eliot Fisk MusicMasters
1995 Eliot Fisk: Für Eliot GSP
1996 Segovia: Canciones Populares Musical Heritage Society
1998 Bach: The Trio Sonatas MusicMasters
1999 Canciones Latinas Musical Heritage Society
2000 George Rochberg: Eden: Out of Time & Out of Space Arabesque
2001 Concert Music for Guitar and Mandolin Orchestra, Vol. 2 MDG
2001 Bach: The Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin Musical Heritage Society
2002 The Artistry of Eliot Fisk Musical Heritage Society
2003 Scarlatti: 18 Sonatas Vgo
2004 Castelnuevo-Tedesco: Guitar Concerto No. 1; Guitar Quintet; Other Works Musical Heritage Society
2005 Françaix, Ponce, Rodrigo: Guitar Concertos Essay
2006 Ernesto Halffter: Sinfonietta; Guitar Concerto Essay
2009 Eliot Fisk Performs His Own Guitar Transcription of Works by Baroque Composers Musical Heritage Society
2010 A Tribute to Andrés Segovia Nimbus
2010 The Red Guitar Wildner
2010 Ein kleines Requiem Wildner
2014 Paco Peña & Eliot Fisk in Duo Recital Nimbus
2014 Songs Without Words: From Bach to Bachianas Albany
2015 Ralf Yusuf Gawlick: Kollwitz-Konnex, Song Cycle for Soprano & Guitar Musica Omnia[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Tosone, Jim (2000). Classical guitarists : conversations. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0813-8.
  2. ^ Eichler, Jeremy (June 10, 2011). "Searching in the guitar for all the colors of the orchestra". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  3. ^ Johnson, Melinda (March 8, 2013). "Guitarist Eliot Fisk to perform with Symphoria on Saturday night". Syracuse Post Standard.
  4. ^ a b c d Morita, Patsy. "Eliot Fisk | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Biography". Eliot Fisk. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Serinus, Jason Victor (April 2007). "Interview: Eliot Fisk - Classical Guitarist". Home Theater Hi-Fi. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Introduction to Fisk's concert on November 6th, 2021, at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, San Francisco. See for instance [1], accessed September 2, 2023.
  8. ^ "Eliot Fisk- Bio, Albums, Pictures". Naxos. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
  9. ^ "Eliot Fisk | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved September 25, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]