Romance (guitar piece)

Romance (guitar piece)

"Romance Anónimo" (Anonymous Romance) is a piece for guitar, also known as "Estudio en Mi de Rubira" (Study in E by Rubira), "Spanish Romance", "Romance de España", "Romance of the Guitar", "Romanza" and "Romance d'Amour" among other names.

Its origins and authorship are currently in question. It is suspected of originally being a solo instrumental guitar work, from the 19th century. It has variously been attributed to Antonio Rubira, David del Castillo[1], Francisco Tárrega, Fernando Sor, Daniel Fortea, Miguel Llobet, Antonio Cano, Vicente Gómez and Narciso Yepes. The Anónimo (anonymous) part of its name has been incorporated over the years due to this uncertainty. The question of authorship has probably been propagated by three main reasons: the lack of claim by its true author, the desire to avoid paying copyright fees, and the desire of publishing companies to claim the lucrative copyright of this world-famous song.[2]

The style of the piece is that of the Parlour music of the late 19th century in Spain or South America, having a closed three-part form: the first in the minor key and the second being in the major key, with the third being a restatement of the first.


Early recordings

The earliest recording of "Romance" is on a cylinder (from the "Viuda de Aramburo" label) featuring guitarists Luis and Simon Ramirez, made in Madrid sometime between 1897 and 1901. The work in question is titled "Estudio para Guitarra".[3][4]

Possible origins

Early Published Versions

Antonio Rubira

An early publication of the work, known as "Estudio para Guitarra" de Rovira was published by J.A. MEDINA e HIJO in Argentina in 1913, or — with complete certainty — before 1925 (which is the date when the publisher ceased activities)[5]; which is attributed to guitarist Antonio Rubira. Guitarist and composer Isaías Sávio (Montevideo, 1900 — São Paulo, 1977) published information which also cites Antonio Rubira as author (see "Violào e Mestres" Junio, 1966 / Sào Paulo, Brasil.[6]): Sávio gives information that Juan Pargas (who knew Rubira) gave the Estudio de Rovira to the guitarist Juan Valles in 1876 (1878?). Sávio also mentions that the work became popular in Buenos Aires, and began to be published by some, such as Spaniard Pedro Maza, and that the work appears in the method of Mascaro and Reissig (published in Montevideo in 1919), on page 14, with the title "Conocido por Estudio de Rovira"[5]. Publishing company Ricordi of Argentina currently publishes the piece and attributes authorship to Antonio Rubira[7].


The earliest manuscripts of the song documented so far, are from the late 19th century: one attributing authorship to Antonio Rubira[8]; and an unsigned version which shows a note at the bottom stating "Melodia de Sor" (Sor's melody)[9] arguably attributing the piece to Fernando Sor, though the style is vastly different from Sor's work. A noticeable difference between these manuscripts and the famous version of Yepes is the inverted arpeggio. Both manuscripts, though believed to be from the late 19th Century, have not been formally dated, and are not believed to be in the handwriting of the alleged authors, but rather are believed to be copies made by students or musicians (also note that Fernando Sor died in 1839).

A Ukrainian folk song Nich Yaka Misyachna (Beautiful Moonlight)[10] could be a precursor of the song. Although some correlation can be made between Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (especially the arpeggio), the Romance guitar piece and the Ukrainian folk song, the latter has enjoyed much success through Eastern Europe and Russia, while being vastly different from the Spanish/Argentine song and its various arrangements. Notably, since European music is largely governed by the same harmonic principles, similarities between unrelated original compositions are not only inevitable but ubiquitous.

Disproved origins

Narciso Yepes (1927 — 1997) interpreted and is listed as the author of the song in René Clément's 1952 film Jeux interdits (Forbidden Games). The popularity of the film gave the song worldwide fame. Yepes currently has the copyright of this composition in Spain although recordings and manuscripts of this song predate 1952. Newer publications show Yepes as the arranger and being of anonymous authorship, or authored by Fernando Sor[11].

The official statement from Narciso Yepes[12] and the Yepes heirs[citation needed] is that Narciso Yepes being a young boy originally composed the piece for his mother when he was about seven years old (c.1934) and soon thereafter performed it between acts at the Teatro Guerra, in Lorca. Some time later, when Yepes was thirteen years old, he recounts that he attended a performance in Valencia and heard his composition performed by another guitarist who indicated the authorship as "anonymous". Yepes contends that the melody had been plagiarized (with some changes to the arrangement) by someone who, he assumes, must have attended that first performance.

However, Yepes was born 1927 and cannot be the author of the work, since it was already recorded in 1900 and published before 1925 (possibly 1913) by J.A. MEDINA e HIJO; and in 1919 in the method of Mascaro and Reissig, etc.

Vicente Gomez (1911 - 2001)[13][14] published it and performed it in 1941 in the Hollywood movie Blood and Sand with Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth, also attributing authorship of the song to himself.

Other arrangements

  • A vocal version including lyrics, which is called Forbidden Games (Jeux Interdits) (sometimes also Romance of Love) was arranged by B. Parker and Marc Lanjean; and has been performed by artists such as Miriam Makeba [15] and Tom Jones
  • Mireille Mathieu has performed a two vocal versions; one in French (title: Amour Défendu) and one in German (title: Walzer der Liebe)
  • Swedish singer Lill Lindfors covered the piece as "Du är den ende", with Swedish lyrics by Bo Setterlind, for her 1966 album Du är den ende.
  • Ginette Reno has also performed a vocal version, titled Forbidden Games.
  • The Julio Iglesias song Quiero from the 1975 album El Amor used this song as the melody, with added lyrics.
  • My Chemical Romance included this song on their first album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, released 2002. It is also the only instrumental song by the band.
  • Cantopop singer, Eason Chan, included this song on his 2011 album title release, Stranger Under My Skin. It is a bilingual English and Cantonese song with lyrics by Chow Yiu-Fai. Chan also had a Cantonese song based on Fur Elise.
  • The Buck 65 song "The Outskirts" from the 2007 album Situation uses this song as backing.


  • Herrera, Francisco, Enciclopedia de la Guitarra (Spanish), Piles, Editorial de Música / Valencia, 2004. ISBN 978-84-95026-80-4


External links

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