Agustin Barrios Mangoré: Leyenda, Guitar Works of the Southern Lands


  • Artist(s): Ozan Sarıtepe
  • Composer(s): Agustin Barrios Mangoré
  • EAN Code: 7.46160916088
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Instrumental
  • Instrumentation: Guitar
  • Period: Modern
  • Publication year: 2023
SKU: C00770 Category:

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The figure of Agustín Pío Barrios, who at a later time would add “Mangoré” to his family name, is fascinating, original, unique and impossible to frame within the usual schemes of the Western musical tradition. One of the greatest guitarists and composers of the early twentieth century, his biography differs under many viewpoints from that of most of his Western colleagues. In spite of this, or possibly precisely for this reason, he is regarded today as a true lighthouse in the ocean of guitar music.
He was born on May 23rd, 1885, in San Juan Bautista de las Misiones, a small town in Paraguay. His identity and his music, as well as his public persona, would always be bound to his Paraguayan roots, and it can safely be asserted that he was the first great Paraguayan musician to obtain international renown.
The beginnings of his musical activity were not easy, also due to the financial and social conditions of his family; however, by Paraguayan standards of the era, his parents were well-educated and cultivated. His father was born in Argentina, and had a role of responsibility (he was the commercial vice-consul for Paraguay), and was deeply interested in the guitar; his mother taught at school and was passionate about literature – a love she transmitted to her son Agustín. The couple had seven children, and, as an adult, Agustín would frequently perform with one of his siblings. Agustín could speak both Spanish and Guaraní, the language of the Paraguayan natives, but later in life he was also able to read English, French and German.
The milieu in which Agustín grew up was deeply pervaded by music, especially that of the local folk tradition; he became acquainted, from a very young age, with styles and genres such as the Polca Paraguaya, Vals, and Zamba. The first guitar came into Agustín’s hands when he was just seven; his talent was immediately evident, and he quickly gained a widespread local fame as a very gifted musician. In this guise, he was heard by Gustavo Sosa Escalada, a major guitarist who was touring the provinces, and who mentored the child, persuading his parents to let him receive a thorough education in Asunción, where Escalada himself would become his teacher. At the age of just 15, Agustín was one of the youngest University students ever in Paraguay. Agustín also received lessons in music theory from an Italian violinist, Nicolino Pellegrini: the boy’s meeting with a virtuoso of another stringed instrument would prove influential for his future development and his musicianship.
His official debut took place in his late teens. At 18 he performed at the National Theatre in Asunción, where he immediately gained recognition and success, among both the audience and the critics. In parallel, Barrios began to insert within his recital programmes some works he had composed himself. Even though he had never studied composition to a professional level, his works stand on a par with those of the most important European guitarists-composers of the time, thus revealing the major power and inspiration of his talent.
Barrios did not eschew the possibility of performing with others: first and foremost his professor, Escalada, who was evidently proud of his pupil, but also with one of his own siblings, Francisco Martín. Influenced in turn by their mother’s literary interests, Francisco had undertaken a career as a poet, but was also a skilled guitarist: the two brothers ventured in some successful tours of their birthland, performing their own music and reaping successes everywhere.
When Agustín was 25, he went to Argentina for a concert tour, which should have lasted for a week. In fact, he was conquered by Argentina, and settled in Buenos Aires for nearly a couple of years. His initial purpose was to earn and save money in order to get married, but this project never came to realization. Instead of money, Argentina provided him with valuable musical experiences, putting him in touch with the technique and works by great guitarists and composers who were among Argentina’s leading stars. During that time abroad, Barrios also went to other Latin American countries, such as Chile and, possibly, also Peru. Later, in 1912, he toured Uruguay: there, too, he took this opportunity not only for showcasing his talent, but also for perfecting his skills, under the guidance of Antonio Gimenez Manjon.
Together with another early supporter of the young man’s career, Martín Borda y Pagola, Manjon was crucial for convincing him to put his musical works on paper. Up to that moment, Barrios had mainly played by memory, in a kind of oral tradition of his own. This implied an approach to music akin to that of folk music, where the “same” piece could be played in numerous different ways, which would be perceived as significant variants of an original if compared with each other in the form of finished pieces. Barrios’ residence in Uruguay would last for three years, which became a fundamental experience for his musical and personal development.
Four more years (1916-20) were spent by the composer, now in his early thirties, in Brazil, and particularly in Sao Paulo. For the first (but not the last time), Barrios could read his own obituary on the Paraguayan newspapers: though the experience could be slightly spine-chilling, it also gave him some very welcome, and free, publicity.
Barrios’ thirties were a period of extreme artistic fecundity, where he played a number of concerts and recitals, wrote extensively – both transcriptions and original works – and also increased his repertoire with numerous works by other composers. At 34, Barrios was invited to perform for the Brazilian President, thus consecrating his musical activity with an official international recognition.
The following years, in the Roaring Twenties, saw Barrios once again on the move. He journeyed through Uruguay and Argentina, and was able to create both a repertoire and a style in which the European and the Latin-American tradition intertwined smoothly, under the aegis of his powerful musical personality.
In his maturity, Barrios took a new name, Chief Nitsuga (which is Agustín spelt backwards) Mangoré, connected with a novel identification with his Guaraní roots. He would go on stage with the traditional Guaraní attire, at times presenting himself in Western clothes for the first part of his recital, and in the Guaraní costume after the intermission. This move was shrewd, and allowed Barrios to revive a career which seemed to be languishing: in comparison with more modern-sounding colleagues, the style of Barrios’ playing and composing seemed old-fashioned in the ears of some critics. The period of Barrios’ identification with Chief Nitsuga Mangoré was not long lived, though; in 1933 he dropped the traditional props, but maintained the second family name in the subsequent years.
In the 1930s Barrios toured Europe, where he met some of the most important composers of the time, including Stravinsky. Back in Latin America, Barrios suffered a heart attack, and was advised to abstain from the performing career. He subsequently devoted his last years to teaching, becoming a very beloved mentor for countless students.
The religious dimension was also very important for him, and many of his works are inspired by spiritual themes. The priest who assisted him in his last hours stated that his death was that of a saint; doubtlessly, Barrios was a person deeply attracted by the infinite and the transcendent.
His compositional output includes more than 300 guitar pieces; in John Williams’ words, “As a guitarist/composer, Barrios is the best of the lot, regardless of era. His music is better formed, it’s more poetic, it’s more everything! And it’s more of all those things in a timeless way”. His compositional language and his style blend, in a seemingly effortless fashion, the Western tradition with the rhythms, modes and sound of his Paraguayan and Latin American heritage. At times, the “folk” element in his music was almost exploited, in the fashion of a curiosity, of something exotic and picturesque. But, for him, this was genuinely his heritage, his background, his deep roots.
On the concert billboards, he was promoted as “The Paganini of the guitar from the jungles of Paraguay”, but he did not look only to the Paraguayan musical heritage for inspiration (though this is abundantly represented in the pieces recorded in this Da Vinci Classics album, e.g. in Caazapá, Aire de Zamba, Cueca, Maxixe, Danza Paraguaya). He wrote works under the influence of other traditions (Andalusian, “Morisco” tradition, or the Creole heritage, or the Brazilian folklore as found here in several pieces), of specific composers (he had a particular fondness for Bach, but echoes of others, such as Pergolesi, are also observable) and styles. Dance is pervasive, as – for instance – in the waltz Altair.
Together, these works spell out the impressive creativity and fantasy of this composer, who was able to draw inspiration from a variety of sources, but also to project the undisputable mark of his personality on them all. His musical imagination was nourished by all kinds of musical stimuli, but his genius was never passive in adopting and adapting them to create a new language for new contents.
Chiara Bertoglio © 2023


Ozan Sarıtepe is a renowned classical guitarist from Turkey, who has been praised by leading guitarists and critics for his virtuosic performances and musical interpretations. His passion for music began around age 15 when he started playing the classical guitar. Today, he is a successful recitalist, soloist, and chamber musician who captivates audiences with his powerful and passionate performances.
His musical brilliance has been praised by renowned classical guitarists and professors. Aniello Desiderio said, "When I heard him playing, he reminded me why I love music." Prof. Enno Voorhorst commented, "Ozan Sarıtepe instantly struck me as a brilliant artist with a bright and elegant future," while Prof. Kagan Korad added, "The interpretations of Sarıtepe are sensitive, deep, colorful and fresh leaving no doubt that his music touches our hearts." Prof. Jorge Oraison remarked, "Ozan’s musical phrase is never 'trendy' but fresh and personal, enjoying every note he plays, like he was improvising."
Sarıtepe's academic journey began at the Rotterdam Conservatoire under the guidance of Prof. Jorge Oraison, where he earned his bachelor's degree. Later, he continued his master's studies at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague in the Netherlands, studying with Prof. Enno Voorhorst, and also received his soloist diploma from the Koblenz Guitar Festival and Academy in Germany under Prof. Aniello Desiderio.
During his studies, he has had the opportunity to work with many of the world's leading classical guitarists in masterclasses. Sarıtepe has been recognized with numerous scholarships and awards from The Netherlands and Germany.
Throughout his studies and since graduation, Sarıtepe has been invited to perform and give masterclasses at concert halls, festivals, and conservatories across Europe. In addition to his accomplishments as a performer and teacher, Sarıtepe has made several appearances on radio and tv programs in Turkey, North Cyprus, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Uruguay. He released his first solo album, "Sonidos de Paisajes-Music of Spain," to great success, receiving excellent reviews from critics worldwide. Such as; “... Sarıtepe has achieved a rare thing by creating a musical concept free from cliché; the music of Spain is as exciting as it ever was and should continue to be so. It is delivered here with unpretentious flair and skillful artistry...” Tim Panting, Classical Guitar Magazine, USA
Since 2017, Sarıtepe has served as the artistic co-director of the Cyprus Guitar Festival. His talent, dedication, and passion for music have established him as one of the most accomplished classical guitarists of his generation.


Agustin Barrios: (b San Juan Bautista de las Misiones, 5 May 1885; d San Salvador, 7 Aug 1944). Paraguayan guitarist and composer. In his youth in Asunción he studied the guitar with Gustavo Sosa Escalada and composition with Nicolo Pellegrini, and practised his compositional skills by transcribing works by Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. In 1910 he left Paraguay intending to give a week of concerts in Argentina, but such was his success that he was away for 14 years, playing in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay (where he studied with Antonio Giménez Manjón). He found a patron in the diplomat Tomás Salomini, who arranged recitals for him in Mexico and Cuba. His first real successes date from about 1919, when he played for the President of Brazil. In 1930 he adopted the pseudonym Mangoré (after a legendary Guaraní chieftain), and in 1934 he went to Europe with Salomini, living in Berlin and visiting Belgium and Spain. In 1936 he returned to Latin America, and taught at the conservatory in San Salvador from 1939 to 1944. Critics compared Barrios Mangoré with Segovia as an interpreter and with Paganini as a virtuoso. He was the first Latin-American guitarist of stature to be heard in Europe, and made numerous recordings between 1913 and 1929.

Although he lacked a formal musical education, Barrios Mangoré wrote guitar music of high quality that combined many of the characteristics of his predecessors, Sor and Tárrega. He reputedly composed about 300 works for solo guitar, of which over a third have been located either in manuscripts or from his recordings. These include La catedral, Danza paraguaya, Un sueño en la floresta, Preludio, op.5 no.1, Julia Florida, Una limosna por el amor de dios, Mazurka apasionata, Vals, op.8 nos.3 and 4, and Variations on a Theme of Tárrega, all of which have become part of the repertory.

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