The classical guitar Oscar Gillia died – His relationship with Greece and Elena Papandreou

Oscar Gillia died in Thessaloniki at the age of 85. The Italian soloist and her lover are one of the largest and most important personalities in classical. The classical guitar meter Oscar Gillia marked generations of musicians around the world, while spending the last twenty years of his life in Greece. “Oskar was a mythical figure for the classical guitar field internationally and in my opinion has influenced its modern history. He has taught at least one lesson to a huge number of guitarists around the planet and has greatly influenced the evolution of the instrument’s teaching mode.” This is what the professor states in the Department of Music Science and Art of the University of Macedonia, Helena Papandreou, a student of his since 17 years and since 2006 wife of the deceased. Video with the leading virtuoso at work: “Oskar Gillia has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the global guitarist community. It was a torrent of musicality that, by vehicle classical guitar, was one of the greatest musical personalities of the 20th century”, confirms Paul Kanellakis, one of the people who had the blessing – as he says – to learn alongside him from a very early age and today, after a long march abroad, he teaches in Switzerland. Oscar Gillia’s artistic course Oscar Gillia, born in a family of artists, with father and grandfather famous painters and mother renowned pianist, was invited to choose between brushes and melodies. From his original selection a series of watercolors and oil paintings emerged, but music won him, thanks to his father, who once asked him to pose with a guitar. This painting was the beginning of a life dedicated to music. He studied at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia, Rome, but the most important inspiration and influence came with his apprenticeship near Andrés Segovia. He contributed to guitar study, establishing guitar schools at important music festivals (Aspen in the U.S., Les Arcs in France, Gargnano in Italy), was a regular visiting professor at separate music centers internationally (Juilliard School in New York, Northwestern University in Chicago etc.), while Hartford University declared him an honorary doctorate. In 1976 he succeeded Andrés Segovia as a professor at Accademia Chigiana, Siena, where for over 40 years he has nurtured talented guitarists, forming their musical outline and interpretation. In addition to solo recital, he has played with some of the most important names internationally (Victoria de Los Angeles, Jean Pierre Rampal, Salvatore Accardo, Yuri Bashmet, Pinchas Zuckerman, Laszlo Varga, Juilliard String Quartet etc.). His last CDs with “Stradivarius” are dedicated to the works of Ponce and Bach. The Mannes School of New York named the 2008 festival “The Ghiglia Legacy”, on the occasion of its seventyth birthday, while a similar celebration took place ten years later, at the Taiwan Festival. Oscar Gillia’s relationship with Greece and Helena Papandreou After his retirement from Basel, Switzerland, where he held the guitar professor seat in Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel from 1983 to 2005, his teaching continued, in various master classes in Greece, Italy and the USA. It was then that he became a couple with Helena Papandreou and with her he chose our country. Since 2005 he lived in Athens and since 2010 in Thessaloniki. “He had been integrated into the field of Greek musicians, everyone loved him, he has given so many lessons, while in the last years he was relatively tired and sick, he could no longer travel and move, offered under scholarship type free lessons to excellent guitar students of the department of Music Science and Art of PAMAK, where I am a teacher,” says Papandreou, presenting a small example of his generosity and contribution. Oscar’s lesson, life lesson for thousands of people From the news of Oscar Gillia’s death, Elena Papandreou did not stop receiving messages of support from people from around the world, who once again expressed their gratitude for meeting with the mythical teacher and stressed how much it affected their lives throughout—and not just music. “There are things I knew, because they told me at times, but I continue to receive very touching comments. He has left an indelible imprint on the lives of many thousands of people. A guitarist was talking to me yesterday and he was telling me that Oscar has influenced his life from every point of view, from his age, even his marriage, even the important professor position he finally took. This is one of the many examples,” Helena Papandreou stresses. “He was not only a great classical guitar teacher. He was a philosopher of music. He was not teaching in order to impress today, but in the thrill and maturity of tomorrow. I learned a lot in private classes with him. I learned more when I watched him teach other students. I learned more when I heard him talk about music. But mostly I learned next to him that talent consists of three elements: Work, work and work and that love and belief in what we do are the most important and the most substantial virtues,” says Mr. Some of the current professors of the world’s most important music schools were students of Gillia, while Elena Papandreou never stopped learning next to him. “For example, a particular album with music by Manuel Maria Ponce, I may have listened to it – without exaggeration- four hundred times. And I learned so much by listening to this play that it changed the way I think, the way I listen, the way I play, and I teach music. Of course like me it has affected too many others,” he says. It is no coincidence that in 2018, on the occasion of the completion of Oscar Gillia’s 80 years old, Netflix presented a documentary entitled “Oscar’s Lesson” (“Oscar’s Lesson”), where the classical guitarist tells his historical career as a musician and teacher, demonstrates his excellent skills, while some of his important students speak about him. RES information and photos – ICM

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