Who was Antonio de Torres Jurado? Antonio de Torres Jurado was a Spanish luthier who is considered to be the father of the modern classical guitar. He was born in La Cañada de San Urbano, Almería in 1817, and died in Almería in 1892.
He was born in La Cañada de San Urbano, Almería in 1817 as the son of tax collector Juan Torres and his wife Maria Jurado. He spent his youth as carpenter apprentice, and was briefly drafted into army at the age of 16 before his father managed to relieve him from service under the fasle pretext of him being medically unfit. Young Antonio was immediately pushed into marriage with 3 year younger Juana María López, who gave him 3 children. Of those three children, two youngest died, including Juana who died later at the age of 25 from tuberculosis.
It was believed (but is not verified) that in 1842 Antonio Torres Jurado started learning the craft of guitar making from José Pernas in Granada. He returned in Seville and opened shop where he created his own guitars. It was there that he came in contacts with many musicians and composes, who pushed him to innovate and create new guitars that they could use in their performances. Famously, Antonio took advice from renowned guitarist and composer Julián Arcas and started his early work on modern classical guitar.
He remarried in 1868, and continued working in Sevile all up to 1870 when he and his wife moved to Almería where they opened china and crystal shop. There he started to work on his last and most famous guitar design, the Torres model. He died in 1892, but his guitars are still played today.
The Life and Legacy of Antonio Torres Jurado
Early Life and Marriage
Antonio Torres Jurado was born in La Cañada de San Urbano, Almería in 1817. He was the son of tax collector Juan Torres and his wife Maria Jurado. At the age of 16, Antonio was drafted into the army, but his father managed to get him out of service under the false pretext of him being medically unfit. Soon after, he married Juana María López and had three children, two of whom sadly passed away.
The Birth of the Modern Classical Guitar
It’s believed that in 1842, Antonio started learning the craft of guitar making from José Pernas in Granada. After returning to Seville, he opened up his own shop and started creating his own guitars. Here, he came into contact with many musicians and composers who pushed him to innovate and create new guitars. He took advice from renowned guitarist and composer Julián Arcas and started work on the modern classical guitar.
In 1868, Antonio remarried and moved to Almería with his wife, where they opened a china and crystal shop. Here, he started part-time work on building guitars, which he continued full-time after his wife’s death in 1883. For the next nine years, he created around 12 guitars a year until his death in 1892.
Guitars made in Antonio’s final years were regarded as incredibly superior to any other guitar made in Spain and Europe at the time. His model of guitar soon became the blueprint for all modern acoustic guitars, which were imitated and copied all across the world.
Today, guitars still follow the designs set by Antonio Torres Jurado, with the only difference being the building materials. His legacy lives on in the music of today, and his influence on modern music history is undeniable.
Antonio de Torres: Crafting an Enduring Guitar Legacy
How many instruments did Torres himself build? Nobody knows for sure, but Romanillos estimates the number at around 320 guitars. So far, 88 have been located, with several more discovered since then. Rumor has it that Torres even crafted a collapsible guitar that could be put together and taken apart in minutes – but did it actually exist? Is it one of the 200+ instruments that have been destroyed, lost, or remain hidden away?
The Price Tag
If you’re ever tempted to bid on a Torres guitar, be prepared to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a bit like the prices of violins made by Antonio Stradivari – fewer than 600 of his violins survive, and they come with a hefty price tag. Collecting old classical guitars didn’t really take off until the 1950s, while the market for older violins has been strong since the early 20th century. So, who knows – maybe one day we’ll see a Torres sell for seven figures!
But what makes these instruments so special? Is it their history in guitar design, their provenance, or their ability to make beautiful music? It’s likely a combination of all three. Arcas, Tárrega, and Llobet were all drawn to the Torres guitars for their sound, and to this day, those with trained ears agree that a Torres doesn’t sound like any other guitar. One reviewer in 1889 even described it as “the temple of emotions, the Arcanum of abundance that moves and delights the heart escaping in sighs from those threads that seem guardians of mermaids’ songs.”
Sheldon Urlik, who has four Torres guitars in his collection, says of one of them: “The clarity of tone, purity of timbre, and concentrated quality of the music from this guitar seem miraculous.” Players have also noted how easy Torres guitars are to play, and how responsive they are when a string is plucked – as David Collett puts it, “Torres guitars allow you to think something, and the guitar does it.”
So what’s the secret behind these instruments? Both Antonios – Torres and Stradivari – achieved a level of artistry that can’t be fully replicated. Stradivari violins have been studied with x-rays, electron microscopes, spectrometers, and dendrochronological analysis, but the results have been inconclusive. Torres’ instruments have been similarly analyzed, but there’s still something missing that can’t be copied. Torres himself offered his own thoughts on this, saying at a dinner party: “I don’t use any secret tools, but I do use my heart.”
And that’s the real mystery behind these instruments – the passion and emotion that goes into crafting them.
The Revolutionary Model of Antonio de Torres Jurado
The Influence of Antonio Torres Jurado
The Spanish guitar as we know it today owes a lot to Antonio de Torres Jurado – his instruments have been praised and recognized by great guitarists such as Francisco Tarraga, Federico Cano, Julian Arcas, and Miguel Llobet. His model is the most appropriate for concert guitar, and is the foundation for the making of this type of guitar.
The Early Life of Antonio de Torres Jurado
It’s believed that Antonio de Torres Jurado had the opportunity to meet and learn to play guitar with the famous Dionisio Aguado when he was very young. In 1835, he started his carpentry apprenticeship. He married and had four children, three of whom sadly passed away. Later, his wife also passed away after a 10-year relationship. Many years later, he remarried and had four more children.
The Legacy of Antonio de Torres Jurado
The legacy of Antonio de Torres Jurado lives on through his revolutionary model of the Spanish guitar:
– His instruments have been praised and recognized by some of the greatest guitarists of all time.
– His model is the most appropriate for concert guitar, and is the foundation for the making of this type of guitar.
– He had the opportunity to learn from the famous Dionisio Aguado when he was very young.
– He faced many calamities in his life, but his legacy will live on..
Antonio de Torres Jurado: A Master of Woodcraft
It’s believed Antonio de Torres Jurado perfected his woodworking skills in Granada, in the workshop of Jose Pernas – a renowned guitar maker of the time. The heads of his first guitars bear a striking resemblance to those of Pernas’.
In 1853, Antonio de Torres Jurado advertised his services as a guitar maker in Seville. At a handicraft exhibition in the same city, he won a medal – bringing him fame and recognition as a luthier.
He moved between Seville and Almeria, where he made a guitar in 1852. He also made a guitar called “La Invencible” in 1884, in Almeria. In 1870, he returned to Almeria permanently and acquired a property to sell porcelain and glass pieces. From 1875 until his death in 1892, he focused on guitar-making.
In 2013, the Antonio de Torres Jurado Spanish Guitar Museum was created in Almeria to honour this great guitar-maker..
Antonio de Torres’ 1884 “La Invencible” Guitar
The Father of the Modern Spanish Guitar
Antonio de Torres Jurado was a master luthier from Almeria, Spain who is widely regarded as the father of the modern Spanish guitar. He revolutionized the traditional standards of guitar making, experimenting and developing his own methods to create instruments of superior quality. His skill and creativity earned him the top spot among guitar makers, and his guitars were praised by some of the best guitarists of his time, such as Francisco Tárrega, Julián Arcas, Federico Cano, and Miquel Llobet.
The 1884 “La Invencible” Guitar
This 1884 guitar was one of the most remarkable pieces in the collection of the guitarist Federico Cano, which was featured in the International Exhibition in Sevilla in 1922. It was crafted with select woods that are impossible to find today, and features a three-piece spruce top, two-piece Brazilian rosewood back and sides, and a silver nameplate with the monogram “FC” and the name “La Invencible” (The Invincible One).
The Sound of this Guitar is Unparalleled
The sound of this guitar is simply unparalleled. It has an incredibly deep bass, sweet and penetrating treble, and an unrivaled sustain and scope. Its harmonics are pure magic, and the tension is soft and comfortable to play. It’s no wonder this guitar is declared National Heritage!
There are some longitudinal cracks on the back and sides of the guitar, some of which have already been repaired by master luthiers Ismael and Raúl Yagüe. The remaining cracks will be repaired soon, and then we’ll be able to show its full potential without risking any damage from the guitar strings..
Torres’ guitars are known for their:
– Rich, full sound
– Beautiful craftsmanship
– Unique fan bracing system
– Highly sought after by collectors and musicians.
How did Antonio Torres invent the guitar?
Antonio Torres Jurado invented the modern classical guitar by taking traditional European forms of guitars and innovating them, based on advice from renowned guitarist and composer Julián Arcas. He continued to refine his designs until his death in 1892, creating a blueprint for all modern acoustic guitars.
Who was the first player composer to enjoy and celebrate Torres guitars?
Julián Arcas was the first player-composer to enjoy and celebrate Torres’ guitars. He offered Torres advice on building, and their collaboration turned Torres into an inveterate investigator of guitar construction.
How many Torres guitars are there?
There are a lot of Torres guitars, as his design has shaped the work of every guitar maker since and is still used by classical guitarists today. His instruments made the guitars of other makers before him obsolete, and he was sought after by important guitar players in Spain.
What did Antonio Torres do to make the guitar sound better?
Antonio Torres perfected the symmetrical design of the guitar’s soundboard, making it larger and thinner with fan bracing for strength. He also proved that it was the top, and not the back and sides of the guitar that gave the instrument its sound, by building a guitar with back and sides of papier-mâché.
Antonio de Torres Jurado was a revolutionary luthier who changed the way guitars were made and played. He was a master craftsman who created some of the most iconic instruments in the world. His legacy lives on today in the form of his guitars, which are still played by some of the world’s greatest musicians. His influence on the guitar world is undeniable and his legacy will continue to inspire generations to come. If you’re interested in learning more about Antonio de Torres Jurado and his amazing work, there are plenty of resources available online. So, don’t hesitate to dive in and explore the world of this incredible luthier!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
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