Usually I do not let myself be carried away by the wave of commemorations on social networks when a famous person passes away, but this time I would make an exception.
On the afternoon of Tuesday July 5th, Alirio Díaz Leal has died in Rome at 92 years old.
A short biography
The eighth of eleven children, Díaz was born on November 12, 1923 in Caserio La Candelaria, a small village near Carora in western Venezuela.
From childhood he showed a great interest in music.
His uncle was his first guitar teacher.
At age 16 he ran away from home to Carora, where he sought better schooling.
He later went to Trujillo in the Venezuelan Andes and studied saxophone and clarinet under Laudelino Mejías while working as a typesetter in a newspaper.
He also studied English before going to Caracas in 1945 to study the guitar at the Escuela Superior de Musica José Ángel Lamas under Raul Borges.
When the young Venezuelan musician concluded his studies, he traveled to Europe for a post-graduate degree.
Soon after his arrival he was welcomed by a large group of representative figures of Venezuelan culture, and the Ministry of Education responded by approving a grant for Díaz.
He attended the Conservatory of Music of Madrid, hosted by Regino Sainz de la Maza.
Studying here had an excellent effect on Díaz and he gave successful recitals in the most important centers of Spanish culture including Ateneo de Madrid, Teatro Español, Palau de la Música in Barcelona, the Alhambra in Granada, Teatro Principal in Valencia.
In Siena (Italy), Díaz continued his studies with Andres Segovia at the Chigiana Academy.
A couple of years later Díaz became not only the disciple of the Segovia but also his assistant and substitute at the Chigiana Academy.
His last years were spent in Italy, considered his second homeland.
The musical research
Díaz has always held in high esteem the value of popular music and, following in the footsteps of the Master Sojo, during his travels in Venezuela began to devote himself to the collection of songs of popular origin.
Many of them have been carefully harmonized for guitar by Díaz, then published and recorded, and are performed even today in front of audiences around the world.
Worth mentioning are also the research of a musicological point of view of the popular theme, reported largely in his book “Música en la vida y lucha del pueblo venezolano”, in articles written for several newspapers and magazines in Venezuela, and in his autobiography “Al divisar el humo de la aldea nativa”.
Invocación y Danza
In 1961, Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo’s piece Invocación y Danza, dedicated to Alirio Díaz, won the First Prize at the Coupe International de Guitare awarded by the Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF).
In turn, Díaz obliged and the next year performed this very difficult solo piece.
It has also been recorded by Díaz.
This was the first of many compositions subsequently dedicated to Alirio Díaz.