I originally mentioned Manuel Cubedo on my Players page, as a no-nail player who made a beautiful recording of Casteluovo-Tedesco’s Guitar Concerto in Re, and once won an important guitar competition. Well, it turns out that the player he pushed into second place was non other than the great John Williams. I thought we should know more about this wonderful player. To my surprise, I one day got an email from his son, Javier Cubedo, who generously gave me all the following information and photographs, to which I’ve added a few more videos of Manuel’s playing. Javier is not an English speaker, and used an online translation service before sending me the following, which I have left unedited for now. My own textual additions are in square brackets.
My father was born in (Castellón de la Plana, 1937) he died on June 7, 2011 in Barcelona. His father was his first guitar teacher and he stood out since childhood because of his exceptional skills as a performer. In successive years he received the teachings of Daniel Fortea and Emilio Pujol, especially the latter, who came to consider him his most outstanding disciple.
With, second from left, his teacher, Emilio Pujol and his (Pujol’s) wife. The man on the left is unidentified.
In 1956, he won the highest award given to the guitar at the XII International Musical Interpretation Competition, in Geneva. The members of the jury were none other than Andrés Segovia, Alexandre Tansmann, Luisa Walker and Jose de Azpiazu, among others. There he competed among others with John Williams (the guitarist, not the composer of film soundtracks (many people confuse them), he [Williams] was in second place and was for years my father’s friend, and he [Cubedo] received the First Prize in the International Competition of Interpretation of Ancient Music and for Vihuela, at the Conservatorio de Lisboa, it was the Extraordinary End of Career Award of the Valencia Conservatory and at the Ecole Normal de Paris.
[“Segovia suggested that Gagnebin – then president of the Geneva International Music Competition – admit the guitar as a competition instrument for the first time in 1956, two years before the O.R.T.F. competitions in Paris.
“This first guitar competition in history turned out to be a summit meeting of some of that generation’s most prominent composers and guitarists. In addition to Andrés Segovia and Henri Gagnebin, there were also Hans Haug, Hermann Leeb, José de Azpiazu, Luise Walker and Alexandre Tansman (see photo). The repertoire for the competition was demanding. Among the required pieces were Chansons from Gagnebin’s set and the guitar concerto of Swiss composer Pièrre Wissmer.
“The winner was Manuel Cubedo.” [Source
From a young age he traveled the world offering concerts. And he studied guitar in several conservatories obtaining the highest grades. He also studied violin.
Already consecrated, he was part of the jury in different contests and countries. He was president in the XXXIV International Guitar Competition “Francisco Tárrega” and jury in different occasions of this contest. He offered concerts in the most important cities of Europe and America, as a soloist and accompanied by orchestras such as the English Chamber, the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra or the Brussels Philharmonic.
He recorded 14 albums and collaborated on projects by Montserrat Caballé, Josep Carreras, and many other Spanish artists.
The most remarkable characteristic of my father is that he was from the school of playing with the yolk [flesh of the fingertip], not with the nail, hence that warm sound, this coupled with his great sensitivity, give his interpretations a very personal style, there is no more than listening to Romance Anónimo, or his Concierto de Aranjuez or any composition by Francisco Tárrega: Capricho Árabe, Recuerdos de la Alhambra …
His last recording was an LP that produced for Montserrat Caballé opera singer, in which he played the vihuela.
In the 60s because in Spain you could not survive playing classical music, he began to practice as a professional musician accompanying dozens of artists playing electric guitar such as the Duo Dinámico and touring around the world. He also played in nightclubs and on radio and television. He started working as a studio musician and his recording hours can be counted by thousands.
From there he quickly entered the record market and was Artistic Director (what today they call A & R, Artists and repertoire) of Belter Records, the biggest record company of that time in our country. This in turn allowed him to compose for many artists and be his Producer at the same time.
My father used several pseudonyms to sign his creations either as a composer (F. Lapardi) or sometimes as a lyricist (C.Cuevas). You can find about 50 songs from a children’s group called “Parchis” which was the bomb in Spain and Latin America, a Rumba group called “Rumba Tres” for which he composed many songs among which is the one that generated the most money in Copyright around the world called “Period Amor”. He collaborated in hundreds of projects and was Producer of many renowned artists in our country such as Manolo Escobar, Braulio, Emilio José … and on at least 5 occasions his artists were chosen to represent Spain in Eurovision (song contest).
He also composed film soundtracks for “Parchis”, “Manolo Escobar”, “Regaliz” (another children’s group) and some more that I do not remember anymore.
After many years of A & R on Belter Records, he became General Director of the Editorial (of Belter Records) but he was still producing. Years later the record company went bankrupt, and my father was hired by RCA / Columbia, which later merged with Ariola and later with BMG. His position there was A & R as well. You would be surprised by what a classical concertist came to do to survive in the market. If he had been born in the USA for example, would have been very famous, this does not happen here.
He also had an independent record label with his brother. You probably did not know all this facet in the record market.
Manuel with his wife, the concert pianist and composer, Ana Fort i Comas, who sadly passed away in March, 2019. The photo was taken in the house of Emilio Pujol.
Unfortunately he had several cerebral embolisms (blood clots and paralysis) I think 5 in about 7 years overcame several paralysis. and finally fell ill with many ailments. Basically, my father sank when he was unable to touch [play] and could [not] do his job, he was almost not around and that led him to not be able to recover.
There you have practically a summary of almost everything I remember. Not in vain, my parents separated at the end of the 70s and for several periods I did not live with him, hence my memories are increasingly scarce.
Thanks to Javier for that information – much appreciated.
Here is a recording Manuel Cubedo made of the central movement of the famous Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo. You will find the playing delightful, but also the Super 8 home movies made by Javier’s elder sister – he is the second of five children.
Here are some other videos which feature Manuel Cubedo’s playing:
The wonderful Concertino for guitar and orchestra by Salvador Bacarisse (1898-1963):
From an album by the castanets player, Emma Maleras, the Spanish Dance No.5 by Enrique Granados:
The first of 15 tracks from an album of Spanish music, unfortunately poorly recorded:
Here’s a performance by Ana Maria Archilés Valls of a piece dedicated to Manuel by his teacher, Pujol: