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Emilio Pujol (Composer)

Emilio Pujol Vilarrubi (1886-1980) was a composer and the leading twentieth century musicologist and classical guitar teacher.
Emilio Pujol was born in the little village of Granadella just outside Lerida, Spain. He began his studies with Francisco Tarrega at the Conservatory of Barcelona in 1901, when he was fifteen years of age. At this time, Miguel Llobet was making his debut as a concert artist outside Barcelona. Pujol fondly remembered his first encounter with Tarrega and in his biography of his teacher, he described his mestre in very endearing, romantic terms.

During the war years 1914-1918 he did not travel much and mainly remained in Catalonia. In 1918 he undertook his first tour of South America, starting in Buenos Aires. The only major interruptions in his concert travels were his marriage to Matilda Cuervas in Paris, an Andalusian singer and guitarist, and the period of time he devoted to historical research in Paris into the instrumental predecessors of the guitar. The beginning signs of World War II, also prevented him from continuing his concert career.

From 1935 through 1940, Pujol continued giving a few concerts and lectures as well as pursuing his research in Spain, London and Paris. By 1941, he was back in Spain until 1946, preparing the volume covering the composer for vihuela Luis de Narvaez for the series Monumentos de la Musica Espanola (Vol. III). The volume was eventually followed by volumes covering Alonso Mudarra (1949) and Valderrabano (1963) in the series. Prior to his death, Pujol had begun work on the largest of vihuela music books, the Orphenica Lyra by Miguel Fuenllana, published in 1554. He considered this book to be the pinnacle of the vihuela school and regarded Fuenllana as the final spokesman for this brief courtly instrumental period in Spanish music.

In 1946, Pujol began his guitar classes at the Lisbon Conservatory of Music which continued through to 1969, perhaps the first instance of guitar instruction being included in an academic institution. During this period he was involved in giving master classes (in 1953 he was personally invited by Andres Segovia to give classes at the Academia Chigiana) and adjudicating guitar competitions. Also at this time, Pujol`s first wife Matilde Cuervas died (1956) and seven years later he married Maria Adelaide Robert, a noted Portuguese pianist and singer who greatly assisted him in his final years.

Beginning in the summer of 1965, Pujol launched his International Courses of Guitar, Lute and Vihuela in the city of Lerida, Spain. This event became quite popular and was attended by students and teachers from throughout the world. It was repeated every summer over a ten year period, and in 1972 it was moved to the thirteenth-century village of Cervera.

His words on Tarrega`s School of Guitar are also applicable to his own spirit which constantly strived to “resolving in advance all the problems which can arise out of the diverse elements which contribute to the performance of a work: instrument, hands and spirit.”

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