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Best Classical Guitarists of All Time – Part 1

11 Best classical guitartists

Choosing the best classical guitarists has been a big challenge because there are so many distinguished guitarists throughout the ages and choosing between them is a very difficult task.

Also, the history of classical guitar goes back to 4 centuries ago, and delving into its history and preferring players over others is something I have not done before writing this article.

This list includes a mixture of great guitarists from the 20th century and a few before this. Players who had a different style of expressing through the guitar the music, whether it was Baroque or contemporary Spanish music.

There are many accomplished guitarists other than those I will mention, but these are the ones who have made their mark on the classical guitar scene and continue to make their mark.

I will add other musicians from time to time, but I would like you to share your opinion with me after you read the list and maybe add a player I left.

Andrés Segovia (1893-1987)

best classical guitarists

One of the most important classical guitarists of his time. (André Segovia) is a Spaniard who is considered the person responsible for showing the guitar as a musical instrument suitable for solo playing on stage.

He arranged many of Bach’s pieces for violin and cello into guitar and played them on stage, which made him world-famous. He continued to play and present concerts until he exceeded the age of 90!
For some, they consider him to be one of the best classical guitarists of the 20 century.

John Williams (1941)

best classical guitarists

A talented Australian guitarist, one of Segovia’s students. He began recording Bach’s guitar pieces at the age of seventeen! He is best known for giving concerts for classical guitar as well as spreading guitar culture all over the world.

He won a Grammy Award in 1973 as Best Classical Instrumentalist (shared the award with his friend Julian Bremm). One of the music historians said of him, “John is probably the best technical player the world has ever known.”

He currently heads the guitar department at the Royal College of Music in London.
John Williams official website.

Julian Bream (1933 – 2020)

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He is considered by many as one of the best classical guitarists and lute (an instrument like the guitar) of the 20th century.

He was born in London in 1933, and after completing his studies at the Royal Academy of Music, he appeared on the scene in the fifties and very quickly gained wide fame for his skill and ability to play various musical styles.

Jason Vieaux (1973)

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2015 Grammy Award winner for Best Classical Guitar Album. Gramophone magazine said about him:

“Jason Vieaux is one of the few remaining elite classic guitarists of our time.” As the Guitar Foundation of America put it, “He’s probably the most meticulous and sensual guitarist of this generation.”

He is also one of the teachers that you can communicate with on the Internet and even take lessons with them, Jason’s official website.

Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909)

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Francisco Tarrega was an important Spanish composer, and his music and style of guitar playing became powerfully influential in the early twentieth century.

He is considered by many to be the person who made the guitar what it is now, as his compositions, which amounted to about 80 guitar pieces, are considered one of the most important pieces written for the guitar!
He is credited with making the guitar a recognized instrument as a solo instrument in recitals or concerts before Segovia.

One of his finest works of all time is the Recuerdos de la Alhambra, which some call (the national anthem of the classic guitar)!

You can imagine that (Andre Segovia) was one of his students, and from him, he learned how to write piano music for guitar, as Tarrega wrote more than 100 pieces for Chopin and Beethoven and arranged them for guitar.

Pepe Romero (1944)

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Born in Málaga (Spain) in 1944. The effects of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War were still lingering, and staying alive was all that mattered at the time. Despite this, his parents planted in him and his brothers the love of music to ease the misery that surrounds them.

One of his most famous sayings is “I was born with the guitar in my hand, and I will die with the guitar in my hand.”

He is one of the best classical guitarists in Spain at the moment and the one who plays most concerts with a full orchestra.

David Russell (1953)

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Scottish guitarist David Russell, his parents moved at the age of five to an island in Spain. His father was a guitarist, so it was natural for him to teach his son how to play.

David doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t play the guitar before he knew how to read the notes he played by ear, his favorite guitarist is (Andre Segovia).

David is a universal artist and can play the violin and the French trumpet.

Xuefei Yang (1977)

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Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang (Fei as they call her) began learning guitar at the age of seven. Three years later, when she was ten, she made her first appearance on the art scene at the first Chinese guitar festival, and she won the admiration of the masses at the time.

After that, Fei did not stop playing in festivals inside and outside China.

She played in Madrid for the first time at the age of fourteen, and among the audience was (John Williams) who was so impressed with her playing that he gave her two of his guitars (Greg Smallman), each costing 10,000 British pounds!

Christopher Parkening (1947)

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Christopher Parkening is considered one of the pioneers in the world of classical guitar. The New York Times described his playing as “so skillful and sensual that you’ll forget everything but the music.”

He has won many international awards and is the author of many guitar teaching books. He is one of the most popular guitar teachers on American television.

Ana Vidović (1980)

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Croatian guitarist, Anna Vujevic, started playing the guitar at the age of five. At the age of seven, she gave her first show, and at the age of eleven, she was playing internationally.
At the age of thirteen, she became the youngest student to enter the Academy of Music in Croatia.

Her talent and reputation in Europe made the legendary guitarist and teacher (Manuel Barucho) invite her to his school, where she graduated in 2005.

This article cannot limit the number of prizes Anna has won, but she always wins first prize in any competition she enters, for example, the Augustin Festival, the Fernando Sor Festival, the Francesco Tarrega competition, and the Mauro Giuliani competition in Italy.

Paco De Lucia (1947 – 2014)

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Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia was a guitarist, composer, and music producer. It is very unlikely that there will be another guitarist at the level of Paco de Lucia. He started playing in his childhood at the age of five and continued playing until his death at the age of 66.

He is the first flamenco guitarist to combine flamenco, classical, and jazz into his music.

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Richard Chapman and Eric Clapton, who published Guitar: Music, History, and Players, said he was the Titanic in the world of flamenco music. In the book Atlas of Guitar, it is written that he is considered one of the greatest guitar players in history.

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