Joaquí­n Rodrigo

Blind from the age of three due to diphtheria, Rodrigo undertook early musical studies under Francisco Antich in Valencia and Paul Dukas at the í‰cole Normale de Musique in Paris. While in Paris, Rodrigo befriended many of the great composers of the time, and received particular encouragement from his fellow Spaniard Manuel de Falla. In 1933 he married the Turkish pianist Victoria Kamhi.

After returning to Spain in 1934, Rodrigo won the Conde de Cartagena scholarship that allowed him to return to Paris to study musicology–with Maurice Emmanuel at the Paris Conservatoire and with André Pirro at the Sorbonne. Some of the most difficult years in Rodrigo's life were in the late 1930s during the Spanish Civil War: his scholarship was cancelled, and he and his wife lived in France and Germany, virtually penniless. They made a meager living giving Spanish and music lessons at the Institute for the Blind in Freiburg. But by 1939, they were able to return to Spain.

Rodrigo started composing in 1923, and won a National Prize in 1925 for his Cinco Piezas Infantiles for orchestra.  His real breakthrough as a composer was with the Concierto de Aranjuez, which was acclaimed from its first performance in Barcelona.

In 1953, he was awarded the Cross of Alfonso X the Wise by the Spanish government, and as part of the celebration of his ninetieth birthday in 1991, Rodrigo was raised to the nobility by King Juan Carlos I with the title "Marqués de los jardines de Aranjuez." He was ultimately given Spain's highest international honor, the Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts, in 1996. The government of France also recognized Rodrigo's importance, making him a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 1960 and promoting him to Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres in 1998.