Francisco Tárrega (1852 – 1909) was perhaps the most important Spanish composer and guitarist of the late nineteenth century. The young Tárrega took an interest in guitar very early and by the age of 10 he ran away from home several times in an attempt to begin a musical career. Eventually he settled back at home before beginning musical studies at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid in 1874. It was around this time that he purchased a guitar in Sevilla by the luthier Antonio de Torres.
After conservatory, Tárrega began performing throughout Spain and composing his own works. Around this time he also began teaching. His pupils included some of the most important guitarists and composers of the burgeoning early modern era: Miguel Llobet, Daniel Fortea, and Emilio Pujol.
While Tárrega only published 19 compositions during his lifetime, more than 80 original compositions survive. Among the most important are a prelude called “Lágrima” and a serenade called “Capricho Árabe.” In addition, he wrote more than 100 transcriptions and arrangements of other composers’ works, including those of J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and other Spanish composers.