5 of the Greatest Classical Guitarists You Need to Listen To

5 of the Greatest Classical Guitarists You Need to Listen To

Guitar is the most internationalized music instrument. It makes a sound that fits well with every language, every culture, and everybody fall in love with acoustic guitar playing. There are so many classical guitarists you have to listen to, in order to understand what we are talking about. Let us go through different countries.

Mauro Giuliani

Mauro Giuliani was an Italian, born in the 19th century. As a well-known virtuous on the guitar, he had concert tours all over Europe. He loved playing Rossini or Beethoven. While still a teenager, he moved with his brother to Vienna, Austria. It is where his international career had started. In 1808, he was the first one to make a guitar
concert with full orchestra accompanying him. He was also famous for performing in the botanical gardens of the Schonbrunn Palace as the official artist for the Imperial celebrations.

Napoléon Coste

He was one of the most famous French virtuous on the guitar. He is one of the first composers that played music of the 17th century in a modern way. He was taught to play by his mother, but with the age of 24, he moved to
Paris and became widely known. His master was Fernando Sor, with whom he played in duet for many times.

Johann Kaspar Mertz

A Hungarian guitarist and composer became famous for his unusual right hand technique. His music usually followed Romantic styles of piano like Chopin, Mendelssohn or Schubert. He suffered from an illness in the neurological system and had to use strong medicines. Before the end of his life he managed to get better and perform together with his wife, for the Imperial Family in Salzburg. He became famous worldwide only after his death.  Here is some of his music.

Francisco Tarrega

A true magician on the guitar, Francisco Tarrega makes a foundation for the 20th century and we can thank him for the increased interest in this instrument all over the world. He transcribed and composed many works, including
the tone you have definitely heard for a million times – the Nokia ringtone. He was born in Spain, with his dad a guitar player, but also teaching him to play the piano. While he was still young, he began to lose his eyesight, due to an infection. After many disputes with his family, he ran away and started playing in cafés in Barcelona. By the age of 22 he became famous with the help of a wealthy merchant, Antonio Canesa.

Xuefei Yang

And to finish our list with a female guitar player. Xuefei Yang was born in Beijing, China, being the first woman guitar player with an international career. With a soft, sensitive style of playing the guitar, with her favorite interpretations of Spanish music, she graduated at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Her role model is John Williams and she even recorded remakes of some of his famous interpretations. Today she is a worldwide known guitar player, playing at places such as Lincoln Center, and she likes to be called Fey. She likes to change guitars all the time, depending on the sound she wants to produce. Her favorite is the Smallman, but she also uses a Ramirez for playing Spanish music and a Fleta for deep waltzes.

A Bio of Agustin Barrios Mangore

One of the greatest classical guitarists in the past century is Agustín Pío Barrios.  He is a native of Paraguay born in 1885 as the fifth of seven sons, the very larger family were all lovers of music and each of them played a musical instruments.  The family placed a high value on the arts with an emphasis on drama, literature and music.  Agustín’s father, Don Doroteo Barrios hailed from Corrientes, Argentina and was a guitar player himself.  The father and his sons uses to entertain the locals in San Juan Bautista regularly with music.

Agustín’s mother was a teacher, she taught her children the value of literature and encouraged in them a love of theater.  While Agustín may have inherited his love of guitar and playing style from his father it was his mother who gave him the affinity for languages and love of poetry.  Both of his parents created the environment which allowed their child to excel and become a world renowned musician.

Small Town Roots

Barrios grew up in a very small town, to this day you can still walk down unpaved streets.  Although the town has two monuments dedicated to its most famous son, both are located right in the center of town at the main square in San Juan Bautista.  Early on Barrios demonstrated how multi talented he was along with his passion for languages.  He spoke Spanish, Guarini (the native tongue of Paraguay) along with understanding German, French and English.   Aside from music he showed interest in poetry, theology and philosophy.  Barrios also had an affinity for art as he later became a caricaturist and calligrapher.

It isn’t really surprising that Barrios wanted to see the world outside of his small town.  He believed that “One cannot become a guitarist without having bathed himself in the fountain of culture”.  His life would go far beyond the simplicity of a small town in Paraguay and the opportunities provided therein.


Barrios never did study at a formal music conservatory but he was introduced to classical guitar by Gustavo Sosa Escalada.  Escalada would become one of the most influential people in Barrios life.  Barrios was already composing music and performing music written by Alias.  With Escalada, Barrios would study the musical styles of Vinas, Sor and Aguado.  Barrios would eventually move to Asuncion to continue learning classical guitar.

From here Barrios would go on to become one of the most influential classical guitar players of all time.  His work and playing style is still studied by music students today.