Narciso Yepes ( 1927-1997) The Innovator of the Ten-String Guitar
In 1964, Yepes performed the Concierto de Aranjuez with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, premièring the ten-string guitar, which he invented in collaboration with the renowned guitar maker José Ramirez. Yepes was the greatest proponent of the 10-string, an instrument that made it possible to transcribe works originally written for baroque lute without deleterious transposition of the bass notes. However, the main reason for the invention of this instrument was the addition of string resonators tuned to C, A#, G#, F#, which resulted in the first guitar with truly chromatic string resonance - similar to that of the piano with its sustain/pedal mechanism.
After 1964, Yepes used the ten-string guitar exclusively, touring to all six inhabited continents, performing in recital as well as with the world's leading orchestras, giving an average of 130 performances each year.
Aside from being a consummate musician, Yepes was also a significant scholar. His research into forgotten manuscripts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries resulted in the rediscovery of numerous works for guitar or lute. He was also the first person to record the complete lute works of Bach on period instruments (14-course baroquelute). In addition, through his patient and intensive study of his instrument, Narciso Yepes developed a revolutionary technique and previously unsuspected resources and possibilities.
He was granted many official honours including the Gold Medal for Distinction in Arts, conferred by King Juan Carlos I; membership in the Academy of “Alfonso X el Sabio” and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Murcia. In 1986 he was awarded the National Music Prize of Spain, and he was elected unanimously to the Spanish Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
Since 1993 Narcisco Yepes limited his public appearances due to illness. He gave his last concert on March 1st 1996, in Santander (Spain).