John Williams plays Córdoba (Albéniz)

Australian-born British classical guitarist John Williams plays Isaac Albéniz’s Córdoba, Op. 232, No. 4, originally written for piano as part of Chants d’Espagne (Spanish: Cantos de España, English: Songs of Spain), a suite of originally three, later five pieces for the piano by Albéniz.

Since it has been transcribed for guitar by the Spanish classical guitarist Miguel Llobet (18 October 1878 – 22 February 1938), it has become one of the staples of classical guitar music. John Williams describes the piece as “real guitar music” and which he believes to be partly inspired by the Great Mosque of Córdoba in Córdoba, Andalusia. One author said “The beauty and romance, which is the particular charm of the city of Cordoba, inspired this composition.”

“The titles and music speak for themselves, whether it is the sunny port of Cadiz, the romance of Granada or the wonder and mystery of Córdoba and its mosque – to enhance the mood of this near the beginning we could not resist using an echo effect in the recording as if temporarily opening the door to hear a choir singing from another world.” (John Christopher Williams, 1980)

Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, a World Heritage Site. “Mezquita de Córdoba desde el aire (Córdoba, España)” by Toni Castillo Quero – Flickr: [1]. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mezquita_de_C%C3%B3rdoba_desde_el_aire_(C%C3%B3rdoba,_Espa%C3%B1a).jpg#/media/File:Mezquita_de_C%C3%B3rdoba_desde_el_aire_(C%C3%B3rdoba,_Espa%C3%B1a).jpg
The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba (Spanish: Mezquita–catedral de Córdoba), also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba (Spanish: Mezquita de Córdoba), whose ecclesiastical name is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Spanish: Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción), is the Catholic Christian cathedral of the Diocese of Córdoba dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and located in the Spanish region of Andalusia. The structure is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

It originally was a Catholic Christian church built by the Visigoths. When Muslims conquered Spain in 711, the church was first divided into Muslim and Christian halves. This sharing arrangement of the site lasted until 784, when the Christian half was purchased by the Caliph ‘Abd al-Rahman I, who then proceeded to demolish the entire structure and build the grand mosque of Cordoba on its ground. After the Reconquista, it was converted to a Roman Catholic church, culminating in the insertion of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the 16th century.

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