As regular readers of the blog will know I have recently been diving into learning the gorgeous La Maja de Goya by Spanish pianist and composer Enrique Granados. Granados was heavily influenced by the musical styles of his home nation, writing in a very Spanish style, with La Maja de Goya being no exception. The title of this piece roughly translates as “the woman of Goya” or possibly slightly more accurately “the really hot/ pretty woman of Goya“.
La Maja de Goya, so the legend goes, references two of Goya’s most well-known paintings – La maja desnuda and La maja vestida (the naked and clothed maja, respectively). The former is said to be the first secular life-size, depiction of a totally nude woman. Apparently in 1813 the Inquisition confiscated both of the paintings due to their obscenity!
To say that Granados was inspired by the Spanish Old Master Francisco Goya is a little of an understatement. He went through an entire period where his works were heavily influenced by the painter, referencing Goya and his works in Tonadillas for voice and piano, a piano suite (Goyescas), and an opera (Goyescas) amongst a host of other works.
La Maja de Goya is such as stalwart of the classical guitar repertoire, and such guitaristic music that suits the instrument so well, that we can sometimes tend to forget that it wasn’t written for our beloved instrument. This wonderful piece was actually originally a song written for piano and voice and has been transcribed for guitar by Miguel Llobet (and many others over the years), so it now nestles beautifully within the classical guitar repertoire.
I’ve found a wonderful version of the original song performed by two Spanish greats – soprano Pilar Lorengar and pianist Alicia de Laroccha. Here it is for you:
And of course, I can’t go past my all-time favourite guitar version of the piece…. Take it away Mr Bream: